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Kelly takes action to aid Kansas medical staff shortages

Published: Jan. 6, 2022 at 4:15 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly has issued a 15-day Disaster Declaration and two executive orders to assist Kansas Hospitals and Adult Care Homes struggling with COVID-induced staffing shortages.

On Thursday, the Governor’s Office announced Kelly signed a State of Disaster Emergency in an effort to ease the staffing strain in the state’s hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term care facilities due to increase COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

During a Thursday afternoon media conference 13 NEWS asked Gov. Kelly if patient care would be compromised as rules and requirements were eased.

“Right now, we have an issue because of a staffing shortage. So is it ideal? No,” Kelly told 13′s Kimberly Donahue. “But it is better than what’s currently going on where people are not getting treated. We know that we have patients who need to be transferred from one hospital to a higher level hospital and they can’t be transferred because we don’t have the staff. We have got to use all the tools at our disposal to alleviate that shortage.”

Kelly also signed two executive orders.

Executive Order 22-01 allows physicians assistants, APRNs, RNs, LPNs to do additional duties that might otherwise require supervision. In addition, it allows licensed pharmacists to provide care for routine health maintenance, chronic disease and similar conditions; allows students enrolled in health care programs to volunteer/work in capacities as their education allows; allows medical students, physical therapists and emergency medical personnel to be “respiratory therapist extenders” – assisting with operating ventilators and similar devices; recognizes out-of-state licenses and practicing privileges from other facilities.

Executive Order 22-02 applies to adult care facilities, and extends license renewal and continuing education deadlines; allows for temporary licenses; and creates a temporary aide authorization, allowing for those with certain minimal training to perform certain duties such as infection control and assisting with daily living activities.

“Just as I did at the start of the pandemic, today I am again issuing orders to provide our hospitals and nursing homes with the necessary staffing flexibility to keep the residents, patients, and staff safe,” Governor Kelly said. “This disaster declaration provides a 15-day solution to give our front-line health care workers the support they need as they battle this COVID-19 surge. This action is temporary until the legislature returns, at which I time I will work with them to pass legislation to extend my executive orders through the month of March.”

According to the Governor’s office, the disaster declaration activates the state’s disaster response and recovery portions of the Kansas Response Plan. It also allows for the Governor to suspend certain statutes, orders or rules and regulations that prevent, hinder, or delay in any way necessary action in coping with the disaster.

“I urge all Kansans to do their part by getting vaccinated and boosted, which will both help prevent COVID-19 transmissions and more severe cases that require hospitalization, and also help in maintaining our critical infrastructure and economy intact” Governor Kelly said.

The move comes as Kansas is seeing record breaking post-holiday spikes in COVID-19 cases.

Shortly after the news of Kelly’s executive action, Kansas Attorney General, and Gov. Kelly’s presumed opponent in the upcoming race for Kansas Governor Derek Schmidt released a statement calling on the Legislature to keep Kelly in check.

“Governor Kelly today declared a new State of Disaster Emergency in Kansas related to COVID-19. The Legislature must exercise strict oversight of her use of emergency powers this time to ensure her actions remain sensible, narrowly tailored and tightly limited. The governor’s use of emergency powers must not again be allowed to get out of hand as happened earlier in the pandemic when she used emergency decrees to order churches, businesses and schools closed and to impose mask mandates, gathering limitations and stay-at-home orders on Kansans. Better for the legislature and governor to work together this time around. It is good the legislature reconvenes on Monday and will be in session to maintain a watchful eye.”

Derek Schmidt, (R)

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