HAP's Latest News

Governor Announces Support Addressing Hospital Capacity, Staffing Challenges

January 07, 2022

Governor Tom Wolf today announced targeted support to help hospital care for patients amid a record surge in Pennsylvanians hospitalized with COVID-19.

The administration is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency to establish regional sites to support hospital and long-term care capacity and deploy strike teams to hospitals facing staffing shortages.

“HAP and Pennsylvania's health care community thank Governor Wolf for his swift response delivering critical support to help hospitals continue to protect the health of their patients and communities,” HAP President and CEO Andy Carter said. “Hospital teams are working through extraordinary circumstances to provide high quality care; but they are strained. Hospitals are treating more people with COVID-19 than at any other time during this pandemic and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has increased 51 percent in the past two weeks alone. This surge comes during the most severe health care staffing shortage in recent memory. HAP thanks the Governor and leaders in the General Assembly for their continued communication and dedication to supporting health care providers as they care for Pennsylvanians.”

Pennsylvania hospitals have been strained since early December due a combination of rising COVID-19 cases, the flu and other seasonal illnesses, a severe health care staffing shortage, and an influx of patients requiring more intensive care due to care being delayed earlier in the pandemic. The recent surge in COVID-19 hospitalizations—driven by the holiday season and the new Omicron variant—has quickly escalated the crisis. Many hospitals across the state are at or approaching capacity.

The Governor’s announcement includes a three-pronged plan:

  • Capacity:  The state will launch regional support sites to accept patients transferred from hospitals challenged by shortages of beds or staff to meet demand for inpatient care. Each regional site will have increased capacity for approximately 60 days beginning in February, and will be supported by medical support staff including physicians, respiratory therapists, and registered nurses
  • Staffing:  The Pennsylvania Department of Health will deploy critical staff—including physicians, respiratory therapists, and registered nurses—to hospitals based on identified need. Deployments will be short-term and occur over the next three months
  • Long-term care:  Regional long-term care support sites will be launched to allow for more rapid discharge of patients by hospitals

“While these efforts will relieve current strains on the healthcare system, we hope every Pennsylvanian will continue doing their part so that care is available when their loved ones need it,” said Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter. “With targeted healthcare staffing support and communities rallied in support by wearing masks, getting vaccinated with boosters, and staying home when sick, we will come out of this with fewer losses.”

HAP has advocated for state and federal support to support hospitals and their patients during this crisis and recently sent a letter to legislative leaders outlining proposals to support hospital staffing and capacity.

For more information, contact Heather Tyler, HAP’s vice president, state legislative advocacy.