State directs additional $80 million to support nursing homes during pandemic

State officials hope the support will ease capacity strains at Wisconsin hospitals
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Colorized scanning electron micrograph of an apoptotic cell (pink) heavily infected with SARS-COV-2 virus particles (green), isolated from a patient sample. Image captured at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

MADISON, Wis. — In an effort to help alleviate the strain on the hospital system, Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are providing $80 million to nursing homes and skilled-care facilities across the state through the end of the year.

DHS is investing $30 million into an admission incentive program. The program will support the cost of staffing additional beds at these facilities, in return allowing them to admit more residents directly from a hospital. Wisconsin doctors said some patients have remained in the hospital, occupying bed space, simply because nursing homes in the state were full or not accepting new patients due to the coronavirus pandemic. This program hopes to alleviate some of the capacity strains Wisconsin hospitals are experiencing.

“This has been an incredibly challenging time,” said Governor Tony Evers in a news release on Tuesday. “And we can’t express our appreciation enough for the staff at all our skilled nursing facilities.”

Another $50 million, coming from a program under the federal CARES Act, will provide funds to nursing facilities that have experienced any losses or expenses related to COVID-19.

DHS is also working with the Department of Safety and Professional Services and the Department of Workforce Development to address critical staffing shortages at health care facilities across the state. The goal of this partnership is to recruit new and former Wisconsin health care workers into settings where they are needed most. You can learn more about job openings and opportunities by clicking on this link.

“Our long-term care facilities have been vital to our statewide COVID-19 response,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm in a news release. “These frontline workers are putting their lives on the line to care for our most vulnerable Wisconsinites. By investing in the state’s long-term care facilities, we are able to support their continued efforts.”

These funds come as Wisconsin continues to see a major surge in positive coronavirus cases and hospitalizations related to the virus.

The state’s positive percentage of new COVID-19 tests reached a record high on Monday afternoon.  At that time, state and county health officials had confirmed 317,820* confirmed cases of the coronavirus. More than 70,000, or 22.2% of those cases are still active. And around 14 % of the state’s 11,117 hospital beds remained open.

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*News 3 Now uses data from DHS and county dashboards to calculate daily cases and deaths. DHS posts new numbers daily at 2 p.m., and our newsroom continues to update our totals throughout the day with additional cases that individual counties report. By using a combination of state and county data, News 3 Now is dedicated to providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date COVID-19 coverage.