HARRISBURG – Legislation agreed to by both chambers in the General Assembly will provide federal funding to support health care staff in Westmoreland County and throughout Pennsylvania. Overall, seven facilities countywide will receive nearly $2 million to recruit and retain staff, according to lawmakers representing the county in the state House.
“My wife being a nurse for more than 30 years, I have witnessed how dedicated and selfless nurses are. But I also know that the pandemic has taken a huge toll on these folks,” said Rep. George Dunbar (R-Westmoreland), majority caucus chairman. “Supporting them this way will hopefully lessen that toll and make certain that the same high quality of care is available to our communities in the future.”
“The care professionals that have been going to work day-in and day-out have been heroes for the last two years,” said Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Westmoreland). “Employee burnout has led to staff shortages at the facilities we have come to depend on when we need it most.”
The funding comes through House Bill 253
and would allocate $225 million to hospitals and behavioral health centers. The legislation requires the funding to be directed to retention and recruitment programs for staff. Hospital executives and administration, contracted staff, and physicians would not be eligible for payments under the bill; the funding would only be directed to nurses and other hospital employees.
Statewide, the proposal would allocate $100 million for acute care general hospitals, $110 million for critical access hospitals, facilities with a high volume of Medicaid patients, and behavioral/psychiatric providers of inpatient services. The bill also includes $15 million for the PA Student Loan Relief for Nurses Program.
“Health care spending plummeted during the pandemic, so increased funding will ease financial pressure on hospitals,” said Rep. Bob Brooks (R-Westmoreland/Allegheny). “In addition, we face a critical shortage of nurses in Pennsylvania. Providing money for nurse student loan forgiveness through the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency will help to recruit and retain professional nurses who are dedicated to providing care to us.”
In Westmoreland County, the following facilities would receive allocations.
Allegheny Health Network Hempfield - $28,740.
Excela Health-Frick - $93,950.
Excela Health-Latrobe - $483,986.
Excela Health-Westmoreland - $1.1 million.
Latrobe Area Hospital MH Center - $48,188.
Westmoreland Hospital Community MH Center - $140,183.
Passavant Memorial Homes – Westmoreland - $61,330.
“I’m thrilled to support sending funds to Latrobe Hospital to assist with both medical and behavioral health care,” said Rep. Jason Silvis (R-Westmoreland/Armstrong/Indiana). “Our health care providers have always done an excellent job, but especially during the pandemic. We owe them a debt of gratitude. I’m hopeful this will encourage them to continue in the profession.”
“Our health care workers have been and continue to be heroes to our patients and their loved ones during this COVID-19 pandemic,” said Rep. Ryan Warner (R-Westmoreland/Fayette). “While we can never put a dollar value on the care and comfort they provide, this funding represents a show of appreciation and an investment in supporting them as they continue their important and difficult work.”
"It is nice to see this money coming back to Westmoreland County and to the front lines of the heroes who carried us through this pandemic,” said Rep. Eric Davanzo (R-Westmoreland).
"I am thrilled that we were able to direct federal funding to the front line that's been supporting us since March of 2020,” said Rep. Carrie Lewis DelRosso (R- Allegheny/Westmoreland). “Pennsylvania health care workers and our first responders have done an impeccable job throughout this ever-changing environment.”
“Passage of this landmark legislation is long overdue good news for every hospital and their patients in the 59th district and across the Commonwealth,” said Rep. Leslie Rossi (R-Westmoreland). “This funding is absolutely critical to allowing our doctors, nurses and everyone else on the front lines of this pandemic to continue to provide high-quality, life-saving care throughout our communities during these uncertain times.”
House Bill 253, having been passed unanimously by both the House and Senate, will now be considered by Gov. Tom Wolf.
Westmoreland County Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Jordan Frei