Published in Health Care

Whitmer eases path for hospitals to add capacity amid coronavirus pandemic

BY Wednesday, March 18, 2020 10:24am

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Gov. Gretchen Whitemer’s latest executive order on the coronavirus pandemic would give hospitals greater ability to ramp up capacity and open temporary centers to care for a surge in patients.

Gov. Gretchen Whitemer COURTESY PHOTO

The executive order allows the state Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs to waive regulations for hospitals to add beds or locations “to construct, acquire, or operate a temporary or mobile facility for any health care purpose, regardless of where the facility is located.”

The executive order “provides much-needed regulatory flexibility on issues related to infrastructure and staffing during these challenging times. If needed, providers will now be able to add capacity, as standards for beds, activation for mobile and temporary ED units and activation of additional health care personnel are addressed,” Michigan Health & Hospital Association CEO Brian Peters said today in a statement.

“At a time when Michigan’s healthcare community is in desperate need of financial, regulatory and staffing support, Lansing is meeting the challenge,” Peters said.

The order — issued Tuesday afternoon and in effect until 11:59 p.m. April 14 — also enables the state the Department of Health and Human Services to issue emergency approvals for hospitals to add capacity as long as the state of emergency remains in effect, as well as helps with staffing issues by:

  • Giving regulators the ability to issue a temporary registration as a certified nurse aid for people who have completed exam requirements.
  • Allows regulators to renew a caregiver’s license “regardless of whether the licensee has satisfied the continuing education requirement applicable to their license.”
  • Regulators can recognize hours worked in responding to the COVID-19 emergency “as hours toward continuing education courses or programs required for licensure.”
  • Allows non-nursing assistants such as “an activity coordinator, social worker, or volunteer to help feed or transport a patient or resident in a manner consistent with the patient’s or resident’s care plan.”

“This is a crisis unlike any we’ve seen before, and we must do everything we can to ensure care for the most people,” Whitmer said in a statement. “This executive order will help expand capacity so more people can access the care they need while we work to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.”

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