Tens of thousands of California skilled nursing facility workers will be given “Hero Awards,” thanks to a $25 million donation from Facebook. 

The state’s Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development on Tuesday launched its Skilled Nursing Facility Hero Awards. The program will provide a one-time, $500 stipend for licensed vocational nurses and certified nurse assistants who currently work in SNFs. The award will be given to the first 50,000 applicants. 

“We’re grateful for all the incredible work California’s critical staff in nursing facilities are doing to save lives and help combat COVID-19. They’re on the front lines every day selflessly helping others, and we hope these stipends will help cover some of their expenses so they can focus on their critical work.” Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement. 

California has made additional efforts to support long-term care staff members during the coronavirus pandemic.  The state’s efforts include retraining 600 nurses to support facility compliance with coronavirus guidance; helping decompress facilities to slow the spread of the disease; and reaching out daily to SNFs to assess their specific needs. 

It’s also working to prioritize testing for patients discharged to SNFs, increase personal protective equipment for facilities with COVID-19 positive residents and staff, offer no- or low-cost hotel rooms for workers exposed to the disease, and help educate family members of nursing home residents. 

LVNs and CNAs can apply for the awards program here.

“We salute the frontline healthcare workers who are taking care of our state’s most vulnerable residents in response to COVID-19,” OSHPD Acting Director Marko Mijic added.