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Hospital pandemic staffing measures could become permanent

The University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore is one of many hospitals that would be able to take advantage of a proposal to fill staffing gaps in future health crises. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Faced with a critical nursing shortage during the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland hospitals have taken steps such as authorizing out-of-state nurses to work here. Now Gov. Larry Hogan says some of those emergency measures could become permanent.

In addition to nurses from other states, Maryland hospitals have been encouraged to lean on nursing students, as well as nursing assistants and physician assistants to act as “force multipliers,” filling some of the staffing shortages, Hogan said during a press conference Thursday afternoon.

The Maryland secretary of higher education has also asked state nursing programs to “allow the earliest graduation possible” for nursing students, the governor said.

Hogan said he plans to make some of these measures permanent via legislation at the next General Assembly session, “so that our hospitals have the tools that they need to respond to future crisises.”

During the press conference, Hogan also urged anyone who is eligible to get a COVID-19 booster shot, and said everyone should get a flu shot to help keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

Meanwhile, vaccines for children between 5 and 11 years old could get approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of October, Hogan said.

Rachel Baye is a reporter for WYPR's newsroom.
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