Gov. Justice to use CARES funding to help alleviate nursing shortage

COVID relief money to fund W.Va. nursing program
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 1:58 PM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Tuesday he will be using $48 million in CARES Act funding to help alleviate staffing shortages at the state’s hospitals.

“We know we have an incredible shortage of nurses in West Virginia,” he said.

According to Gov. Justice, three of the state’s institutions will be a part of an “aggressive” new program to recruit and train more qualified nurses in the state of West Virginia.

The $48 million from federal CARES Act money will be given to the Higher Education Policy Commission to distribute between Concord University, Glenville State College, and Bridge Valley Community and Technical College.

Officials believe that will produce more than 2,000 nurses over four years, in addition to those already set to graduate from other colleges elsewhere in West Virginia.

Gov. Justice said Tuesday, during a virtual news conference, that he hopes that will help offset 1,700 nurses who chose not to renew their license in 2021. The governor stated that 68% of those 1,700 listed “tired” as their reason for not renewing.

“We’re going to flood West Virginia with quality, great nurses,” he said. “This $48 million will renew, and renew, and renew from an economic impact within our state.”

Gov. Justice, during his remarks, read the following statement from the West Virginia Hospital Association:

“Projections show that for the 2021 holiday season, we will approach the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations in West Virginia since the pandemic began. The vast majority of the patients in the ICU units or those who are on ventilators are unvaccinated and the national shortage of our antibodies has greatly restricted access to effective treatment options. We are seeing a high number of patients with other medical conditions requiring hospital care: such as - the flu, heart disease, cancer and trauma. This combination has strained the health care system and now after nearly two years, the system is nearing a breaking point.”

Through this investment, officials say they will be able to implement and expand key nursing education programs, including fully funding the West Virginia Nursing Scholarship Program and developing a nursing faculty loan repayment program.

The expansions of both LPN and RN programs were highlighted Tuesday during the virtual press conference.

Glenville State College announced a joint program with Marshall University.

Concord College announced the beginning of a brand new program Tuesday.

“For 150 years, Concord University has worked to meet the needs of West Virginia by training its teachers, business leaders, social workers, and professionals. As we continue to navigate life amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for health care workers is greater than ever, and Concord University is grateful for the opportunity to again serve the region and state by establishing a nursing program,” said President Kendra Boggess.

Administrators, faculty and staff at Concord say they have begun to work on curriculum for nursing, a new addition to Concord that President Boggess hopes will lead to other Allied Health degrees in the future.

Bridge Valley Community and Technical College officials said they will be expanding existing nursing programs.

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