Wisconsin officials have pledged to provide nursing homes additional funding if they take in hospital inpatients during the coronavirus crisis in an effort to alleviate hospitals at or near full capacity. 

The state’s Department of Health Services this week announced the overall $80 million in additional funding for skilled nursing facilities, which includes a $30 million investment for an admission, incentive program for SNFs and post-acute care facilities.

The state confirmed that nursing homes can receive $2,900 for each hospital inpatient they accept as part of the program, according to a report by Wisconsin Public Radio. The state hopes the additional funding will encourage SNFs to admit already-discharged hospital patients who still need follow-up care and the funding is aimed toward helping facilities increase staffing levels to account for the added residents, the report explained.

Rick Abrams, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Health Care Association/Center For Assisted Living, said the additional funding is “tremendously needed” and will help free up beds in hospitals. 

“Even before the COVID crisis, nursing facilities, indeed all facility-based long-term care, were chronically understaffed and the pandemic has really exacerbated that understaffing,” Abrams said. 

“What we expect is that facilities will now be able to admit more patients who are ready for discharge from hospitals safely — and I underscore the word safely — so that we can release the pressure that our hospital partners are experiencing,” he added.

The program will cover patients who were accepted into facilities from the last two weeks of October and will run through Dec. 30, or when the funding is depleted. Providers can expect to see the payments within the next week. 

The state will use the other $50 million to cover the facility’s financial losses and expenses related to the pandemic. 

“This has been an incredibly challenging time,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said in a statement. 

“And we can’t express our appreciation enough for the staff at all our [SNFs]. We are truly grateful for their efforts in showing up to work every day and caring for our loved ones, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will continue to support them in any way we can,” he added. 

On Thursday, the state reported 6,635 new coronavirus cases and 83 more deaths. Wisconsin is approaching 3,000 deaths statewide, according to a news report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.