FEMA Obligates $47.9M to Hire 955 Nurses in Hawaiʻi Amid Omicron Surge
The Federal Emergency Management Agency on Wednesday, Jan. 19, announced that it has obligated the advance of more than $47 million to pay for nearly 1,000 state-contracted medical staff to assist hospitals in Hawai‘i that are struggling with the omicron surge of COVID-19.
The advance funding represents half of the $95.8 million sought by the Hawai‘i State Department of Health at the request of the Healthcare Association of Hawai‘i. The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency managed and facilitated the emergency funding request to FEMA as part of the State’s COVID response.
The funding is part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program to reimburse eligible costs for emergency personnel assisting with COVID response work. Allowable expenses covered by 100% federal funds during the pandemic include medical surge personnel to supplement existing staff at hospitals to reduce or eliminate the spread of the virus.
DOH sought the funding to deploy 955 medical personnel from Jan. 10, 2022, until April 1, 2022. Personnel hired under the DOH contract with ProLink Healthcare began deploying to Hawaiʻi hospitals in the past week.
DOH and HIEMA asked to have 50% of the funding – $47.9 million – obligated in advance to expedite payment to the medical personnel, whose services have been in high demand as the omicron variant has sent COVID infections rocketing to new highs around the world. FEMA on Wednesday confirmed that those advance funds have been obligated.
“We really appreciate all the partners on the (FEMA) Region IX Team,” stated Luke Meyers, HI-EMA Administrator. “These resources will be vital as we continue to battle the current COVID-19 wave.”
Today’s funding follows last month’s announcement of more than $37 million in federal funding under the American Rescue Plan for 391 health care providers to provide care for families across the state.
“As we continue fighting the pandemic, it’s critical that our hospitals have the resources and staffing they need to provide high-quality care to families across Hawai‘i,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “This new federal funding will help hospitals hire more nurses and medical staff and keep people healthy.”