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Coronavirus

Maryland Gov. Hogan to introduce legislation to address hospital staffing shortages during COVID

In an effort to alleviate the ongoing staffing shortages in Maryland hospitals, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday he plans to introduce emergency legislation to help fill the gaps in the health care workforce.

The legislation, he said, would make permanent some of the provisions authorized by the Republican governor during the coronavirus pandemic, such as allowing nurses licensed in other states to work in Maryland and giving nursing school students more responsibilities inside hospitals.

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Such legislation is the latest attempt to ease the state’s health care labor shortage, which continues to plague not just hospitals but also nursing homes, urgent care centers, laboratories and health departments throughout the country. The staffing crunch has persisted through much of the coronavirus pandemic, which has drained staffs over the last several months as demands mounted and workloads intensified.

Hogan said the latest rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations motivated him to provide health care centers with “more tools.”

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“We’re increasingly concerned by the sharp rise in hospitalizations, which have doubled over the last three weeks,” Hogan said at a Thursday news conference in Annapolis. “Health officials are also warning that the convergence of the flu and the delta and omicron variants could lead to further spiking metrics and hospitalizations.”

Hogan also said the state would be working with hospitals to “aggressively” promote monoclonal antibody therapy, which he said the state strongly recommends as a way to stave off severe bouts of COVID-19 and ease the strain on the health care system.

As of Thursday, 984 people in Maryland were hospitalized for COVID-19, the highest such patient volume since early May. The increase in hospitalizations likely can be traced to the surge in coronavirus infections detected in the wake of the Thanksgiving holiday as well as the spread of more contagious variants.

Earlier this week, the University of Maryland Medical System pledged to spend $5.1 million to attract nurses and other clinical graduates of two-year community colleges in the region to its hospitals. Those funds will help offset the cost of community college for new graduates, system representatives said, adding that demand to fill positions was at an all-time high.

Baltimore Sun reporter Bryn Stole contributed to this article.


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