JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri is spending $30 million to support the state’s hospitals and health care professionals in their fight against COVID. The funding will be to help with healthcare staffing and antibody infusion stations.
Missouri will commit $15 million for health care staffing for all Missouri-licensed or CMS-certified critical access, acute care, and long-term care hospitals.
Many hospitals in the Kansas City metro say they are near the levels they saw at the height of the pandemic in 2020. Both doctors and health officials are concerned because cases are increasing, and the majority of the patients they are seeing are unvaccinated.
But Parson stressed that hospital capacity is limited across the state due to staffing shortages not a lack of bed capacity.
“It is our hope that this program will decrease hospital capacity strain caused by staffing shortages and decrease the need for future alternative care sites,” Parson said.
The other $15 million will be used to set up five to eight sites to provide antibody infusions for up to 2,000 patients daily. He said one such site in Springfield is seeing “tremendous success” in reducing serious illness and has treated 319 patients since it opened on July 23, according to a press release.
Monoclonal antibodies are proteins that can help your body fight off COVID-19 and reduce the risk of severe disease and hospitalization if administered to high-risk patients soon after diagnosis.
But Rep. Patty Lewis, D-Kansas City, said the governor’s solutions are reactionary as opposed to proactive.
Lewis also said Parson’s earlier pandemic management contributed to this moment in healthcare.
“I think we should have started way earlier with messaging. You know, I think that the rollout initially — there were some missteps,” Lewis said.
“In our community here in Jackson County/Kansas City folks were reaching out saying, ‘We’re not getting our fair share, and in other counties in Missouri, we’re wasting doses.’ That was extremely disappointing,” Lewis said.
“And now currently, while the governor does say to get the vaccine, he isn’t taking a strong stance on the disinformation that is circulating out there. And I really would like to see him address that head-on, especially the misinformation coming from his own party.”
With a nursing background, Lewis currently volunteers administering COVID-19 vaccines. She said medical staff have reason to feel overstretched in an ICU.
“It’s physically and emotionally demanding, and this was during normal times. Losing a patient is never easy for anyone. And now today, given the pandemic, they are losing patients like they’ve never seen before,” Lewis said.