All Michigan nursing homes will now be able to access the state’s “critical” emergency workforce program that provides additional staffing resources to facilities facing shortages during the coronavirus crisis. 

The Michigan Department of Health & Human Services announced this week that it has expanded its rapid response staffing resource program. The state will offer up to 120 hours of staffing to facilities in any part of the state under the expansion plan. It also now applies to licensed practical nurses, social workers, direct care workers, dietary aides, dietary cooks and environmental services staff.

The Health Care Association of Michigan/Michigan Center for Assisted Living applauded the move saying the additional support can make a “critical difference to maintaining care when faced with a crisis.” 

“By extending staffing coverage to all areas of the state, the department is supporting providers to ensure they have the needed staff on hand for resident care – even when faced with emergency situations,” Melissa Samuel, president and CEO of HCAM/MCAL, told McKnight’s on Wednesday.  

The program only offered 72 hours or less of consecutive staffing assistance in just 11 state counties when it was initially launched in July. Previously, staffing personnel available only included registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, personal care aides or resident care assistants. 

“It is our understanding that through the program, up to five staff members per shift may be made available to long-term care communities during staffing crisis for a period of several days,” Samuel added. 

The agency will provide the staffing assistance to facilities that “meet specific criteria, which includes showing that they’ve exhausted all other options.

The state decided to expand the program following a high staffing demand of long-term care workers after many tested positive for COVID-19 throughout the state, according to MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. He explained the expansion is necessary to “meet this need and ensure the safety of long-term care residents in Michigan.”