These 6 Johnson County hospitals will get millions from state to help retain stressed out staffs

Johnson County hospital staff

Six Johnson County hospitals, including AdventHealth Shawnee Mission in Merriam, are getting millions in state funds to help retain health care workers and staff after more than a year-and-a-half of the COVID-19 pandemic. The money is part of Kansas' Frontline Hospitals Workers Retention Plan. Above, nurses at AdventHealth Shawnee Mission celebrate a COVID patient's release from their care last year. File image.

Over the last year-and-a-half amid the COVID-19 pandemic, local hospitals and their staff have struggled with long hours and demanding workloads.

As a result, many of hospitals in the region have struggled to retain nurses and other workers and remain fully staffed.

In order to combat this issue, six hospitals in Johnson County, along with three other facilities on the Kansas side of the greater Kansas City metro, are set to receive a total of $14.66 million in stimulus aid to help them retain their workforce.

The money comes from Kansas’ $50 million Frontline Hospitals Workers Retention Plan, which was approved by the bipartisan Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) executive committee in September.

“This $50 million will help us retain and attract more frontline hospital workers as we continue to fight his virus,” said Governor Laura Kelly in a news release last week. “For over 18 months, our heath care workers have risked their lives every day to protect Kansans from COVID-19 – it’s our responsibility to make sure they have the support they need to continue.”

The following local hospitals were allocated funds through the program:

  • The University of Kansas Health System (Kansas City, Kan.): $5.46 million
  • AdventHealth Shawnee Mission (Merriam): $2.52 million
  • Providence Medical Center (Kansas City, Kan.): $1.77 million
  • Overland Park Regional Medical Center: $1.6 million
  • Olathe Health: $1.35 million
  • Menorah Medical Center (Overland Park): $641,000
  • Saint Luke’s South Hospital (Overland Park): $641,000
  • Saint John Hospital (Leavenworth): $231,000
  • Children’s Mercy Hospital Kansas (Overland Park): $207,000

Hospitals were allocated funds based on the number of licensed, acute and intensive care unit beds in each facility.

Qualified facilities may use the funding in a couple of ways, according to the state. Those include:

  • funding so-called “premium pay” for staff on top of their normal wages or salaries,
  • and/or funding a custom program designed by the facility to improve the retention of nursing resources and support personnel.

The state’s Frontline Hospital Workers Retention Plan takes its cue from the federal American Rescue Plan in defining “premium pay.”

That federal law sets aside funds for health care and other essential workers in “an amount up to $13 per hour in addition to wages or remuneration the worker otherwise receives and in an aggregate amount not to exceed $25,000 per eligible worker.”

“HCA Healthcare’s co-founder Dr. Thomas Frist once said, ‘It’s not brick and mortar and equipment that make a hospital. It’s the warmth and compassion of good employees that lead to quality care,’” says Matt Sogard, chief executive officer of Overland Park Regional Medical Center, which is owned by HCA. “We are honored to receive this funding to support the retention and recruitment of good employees. We are proud of our caregivers who provide high-quality, compassionate care to our community, and look forward to continuing the expansion of our workforce.”

To receive the funds, hospitals must submit a completed application by Oct. 29.

Funding will be awarded on a rolling basis following application review, according to the state.