JACKSON, Mississippi – Health care providers predicted that they might need to close floors and reduce patient beds because of the expiration of a federal contract.
The government created the federal contract to bring over 900 nurses to Mississippi to address the previous COVID-19 surge. However, Mississippi Governor Reeves announced that the state would not renew the contract because the COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations drastically reduced during the month.
According to Reeves, “we’re down somewhere between 85% – 90% total number of patients in the hospital beds.”
Since the last wave of COVID-19 cases, the state deployed at least 900 nurses under a 60-day contract under the government.
Since the expiration, Reeves reported that at least 2,000 nurses left their previous service. Furthermore, Reeves reported that other nurses leave the state to find companies and hospitals with higher salaries.
One of the hospitals directly affected by the contract expiration was the Singing River Health System. According to Jessica Lewis, executive director at Singing River, the hospital has already lost over 240 nurses since the pandemic.
Singing River expects to lose at least 70 staff positions and 100 hospital beds with the contract expiration. According to Lewis, “everyone is scurrying out there to get the talent and keep their doors open.”
In line with this potential nurse shortage, Singing River drafted a letter with other major health systems to Reeves to resolve this issue.
A portion of the letter asked the state to “set a portion of those funds to quickly establish a program to incent health care workers.”