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Health care, state workers get $75M recruitment, retention fund

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WILMINGTON – Gov. John Carney on Wednesday announced more than $75 million in financial support for Delaware hospitals, long-term care facilities, and state of Delaware-operated 24/7 facilities. Funding can be used to make recruitment and retention payments to Delawareans working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic in facilities that are facing significant staffing shortages.

The new support, which will help address potential staffing shortages in front line industries, is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that was championed in Congress by members of Delaware’s congressional delegation — Sens. Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester — and signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11.

“This new funding from the American Rescue Plan will help Delaware hospitals, long-term care facilities and state of Delaware facilities keep workers who have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis – and recruit qualified new workers into these critical roles,” Carney said in a statement. “That’s exactly how this federal funding was meant to be used, and it will help these industries stabilize their workforces so we can continue fighting the COVID-19 pandemic at full strength. Most importantly, I want to thank our health care workers, emergency response personnel, and all those Delawareans who have gotten us through a difficult 19 months. Let’s make sure we’re all doing our part. Getting vaccinated is the best thing you can do to finally put an end to this pandemic. Find a vaccination provider near you by visiting de.gov/getmyvaccine.”

“As a nurse, I know how difficult it has been on our frontline health care workers as we have battled the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to thank all of our health care workers for their tireless effort and dedication to keep our families and communities healthy and safe every day,” Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long said in a statement. “This $75 million investment from the ARPA funding will support the workforce of our hospitals and long-term care facilities that continue to take care of Delawareans. Thank you to the federal Delegation for this additional recruitment and retention tool to ensure we have a robust and qualified healthcare workforce in Delaware.”

“Delaware’s frontline health care workers have been critical in keeping Delawareans safe and healthy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Delaware’s federal delegation said in a statement. “We applaud Governor Carney for allotting $75 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, a bill your federal delegation voted to pass in March of this year, to fund hospitals, long-term care facilities, and state-operated 24/7 facilities. This funding can be used for the recruitment and retention of health care staff throughout the state, a critical step to ensure that Delaware’s health care facilities have the staff necessary to continue their essential work.”

“We are grateful that the governor is recognizing the tremendous burden COVID-19 response continues to visit upon our hospitals and health care facilities through provision of these funds,” Wayne Smith, president and CEO of the Delaware Healthcare Association, a trade organization that represents Delaware hospitals, said in a statement. “Having the needed amount of front line workers to care for all who access our facilities is not optional. This announcement is a great help and very much appreciated.”

“Today’s announcement is another example of how the state and federal government have responded to the impact of the pandemic on long-term care residents, staff and facilities,” Cheryl Heiks, executive director of the Delaware Health Care Facilities Association, which represents long-term care facilities, said in a statement. “Caring for our seniors should be one of our top priorities; this funding demonstrates a further commitment to caring and will help facilities to continue the goal of providing quality care during a time of unprecedented challenges.”

The Delaware Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) on Tuesday announced a plan to use ARPA funds available to Medicaid programs to recruit and retain Direct Support Professionals (DSPs) who provide home and community-based services to Delawareans with disabilities. Under DHSS’ plan, new DSPs employed on or after May 1, 2021, and existing DSPs who were employed prior to April 30, 2021, would be eligible for a one-time $1,000 payment if they work a minimum of 25 hours a week.

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