JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson announced Wednesday that Missouri will be partnering with a private health care service to help expand hospital capacity.
The partnership “will allow up to 760 additional staff across the state, including registered nurses, respiratory therapists (and) certified nurse assistants,” Parson said. “When fully deployed, this will add nearly 600 total beds to our statewide bed capacity.”
The company, Vizient, has already entered a similar agreement with the state of Arizona. Vizient, based in North Texas, is “the nation’s largest member-driven health care performance improvement company,” according to its website.
Parson said the state will fund the partnership through the end of the year using CARES Act funding and hospitals will pay for the remainder of the partnership, which is scheduled to go until the end of February. When asked how much the partnership is expected to cost the state and the hospitals, neither Missouri Hospital Association President and CEO Herb Kuhn nor Parson provided a figure.
“We’ll tell you the exact amount once that’s kind of finalized,” Parson said. “It all depends on how many people you bring in and at what stages you bring that in. ... We’ll just have to see what happens into the next year.”
Parson and Kuhn both spoke of an expected surge in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks following the Thanksgiving holiday.
“As these workers arrive, they will provide essential support to our hospitals and health care workers. ... These extra skilled caregivers are essential to address the staff shortages that are presenting a critical threat to hospital capacity here in Missouri,” said Kuhn.
Kuhn cautioned that even with the additional help, hospitals will likely face heavy demand, in part as a result of holiday travel.
“Despite this needed assistance, Missourians must remain vigilant. ... To weather this storm, we have to reduce the infection rate,” Kuhn said.
According to the New York Times, Missouri has gained over 20,000 cases since Thanksgiving, a decrease from the same period two weeks ago, although the impact of the holiday likely hasn’t arrived.
For more information about the Show Me Strong Recovery Plan and to view the state’s COVID-19 dashboards, visit showmestrong.mo.gov. For information and updates regarding a COVID-19 vaccine, visit mostopscovid.com.