Help extended for hospitals, nursing homes hit hard by COVID
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly signed a bill Friday extending executive orders that help address crippling shortages of medical personnel and nursing home workers.
One order allows hospital staff to perform a broader range of duties. The other makes licensing of nursing home workers more flexible so homes can hire people whose licenses have lapsed and fill less-skilled jobs with workers who have relatively little or no previous training.
Kelly announced the orders earlier this month as COVID-19 cases soared, but they could only remain in place for 15 days unless lawmakers took action. The bill Kelly signed extends the orders through next January.
“Our front-line health care workers have been overwhelmed by the highly contagious Omicron variant, and they need our support now,” she said.
The situation is so bad that many hospitals have been forced to cancel surgeries. The University of Kansas Hospital announced Friday that it is treating 203 COVID-19 patients, a new pandemic high.
Dr. Tim Williamson, the hospital’s vice president of quality and safety, said the emergency department is full and that the morgue at capacity, with highest number of deaths since beginning of pandemic.
“There is no doubt that for any hospital in the region it is not business as usual.” he said.