COVID-19 workgroup hears from the health care industry

The Minnesota Senate has formed a working group to discuss the state’s response to COVID-19 and review proposals from the Governor and the Legislature to address needed action. Last week, this working group met to discuss COVID-19’s impact on the health care industry and heard from testifiers representing hospitals, nurses, and long-term care facilities on the challenges they face in response to this crisis.

Health care workers across the state of Minnesota are adapting to face these unprecedented times as best they can with oftentimes limited resources. Limited personal protective equipment (PPE) is a huge concern for those on the frontlines of this pandemic. Legislators continue to hear stories of nurses and other health care workers who are forced to reuse their protective masks for multiple shifts due to these shortages. Senate DFLers know this is unsafe and unacceptable. We are committed to working with partners at the Department of Administration and State Emergency Operations Center to find solutions to these shortages and make sure that supplies are equitably distributed to all who need them.

Senators also heard more about the serious financial dilemmas hospitals across Minnesota are facing during this time. While many hospitals are supportive of Governor Walz’s actions to delay elective surgeries and procedures to protect the health of Minnesotans and conserve critical PPE, we know this comes at an extreme cost, both through lost revenue and in staff furloughs and lay-offs. We continue to explore ways to support those who are not working through no fault of their own, including options to retrain staff who are able to work in different clinical or long-term care settings. We are also hopeful financial relief is on its way as the Minnesota Department of Health will soon be allocating the $200 million in funding passed by the Legislature for health care settings to address COVID-19-related expenses.