by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | January 10, 2022
To alleviate staff shortages and address rising COVID-19 cases, New York Governor Kathy Hochul (D) pledged Wednesday night a sum of $10 billion to the state’s healthcare sector.
The amount will be the “largest investment in healthcare in state history” and is expected to “bolster our bone-tired healthcare workforce,” said Hochul in her state of the state speech in the State Assembly, reported The Hill
"Simply put, we must build the health care system of tomorrow. To do that, Gov. Hochul will make more than a $10 billion, multiyear investment in healthcare, including more than $4 billion to support wages and bonuses for health care workers,” said the state of the state report.
Hochul says the investment will help New York reach its goal of increasing its healthcare workforce by 20% over the next five years.
For wages, $2 billion dollars will be allocated out of the $4 billion pledged, while the other $2 billion will specifically go toward healthcare and mental hygiene work retention bonuses. Full-time workers who remain in their jobs for one year can receive up to $3,000, and those who work fewer hours will receive a prorated bonus, according to Becker’s Hospital Review
An additional $500 million will go toward cost-of-living adjustments, while $2 billion will be used for healthcare capital infrastructure and improved lab capacity. Additional investments will be made to boost workforce and healthcare access.
The state’s health department reported over 77,000 COVID-19 cases this week, driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant. Earlier this week, the governor said that hospitalizations in New York City had surpassed last winter’s peak, at 9,563 patients, compared to 9,273 in January 2021. The number this week was the highest patient count for COVID hospitalizations in the state since May 4, 2020, according to Pix 11 News
The governor also announced last month that the state would reduce the time required for healthcare and other essential workers to quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 from 10 days to five. The decision was motivated by staffing shortages and followed similar actions taken by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to shorten the quarantine time for some COVID-19 infections among just healthcare workers, reported Forbes
“We're doing everything we can to keep New Yorkers healthy, setting policies that have made our vaccination rate one of the highest in the country, activating a military-style operation with vax and test sites, deploying the National Guard to our hospitals and nursing homes and sending out 37 million tests across the state,” said Hochul in her speech Wednesday.