Several regions advance mitigation tiers as State launches surge staffing program

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ILLINOIS (WCIA) — The Illinois Department of Public Health adjusted metrics, which allows more regions to lift strict mitigations.

In a news release, officials said the state launched multiple health care staffing contracts to increase staff in hospitals. IDPH adjusted its mitigation metrics to reflect that change.

“With the change, Regions 8,9, 10, and 11 will move from the most restrictive Tier 3 to Tier 2,” said IDPH officials. “In addition, Region 1 and 6 have met the metrics to move to Tier 1, and Regions 3 and 5 have met the metrics to return to Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois Plan.”

Officials said hospital leaders and local health departments told IDPH their primary capacity challenge was a need for more staffing. They told IDPH state-facilitated staffing contracts would be critical in addressing that issue.

“With this surge staffing program, IDPH and hospital leaders feel confident that metrics can safely move away from utilizing medical/surgical bed limits to move across mitigation tiers, allowing more regions to advance.” They also said this adjustment recognized “substantial progress” the state had made since Tier 3 mitigations were put in place in November.

“Hospital leaders have made clear the importance of staffing in their continued response to this pandemic and conveyed that staffing contracts will be extraordinarily valuable in their ability to meet the needs of their communities,” said IDPH Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “We are pleased to see most of our regions move out of Tier 3 mitigations with this change, and it is critical that we maintain this progress. With new variants of COVID-19 spreading, it is more important than ever to follow the public health guidance that keeps people safe– wear a mask and watch your distance.”

The surge staffing program “leverages the state’s larger contracting power to engage multiple staffing vendors and create access to a talent pool at greater scale than any individual hospital could achieve,” said IDPH officials. Hospitals with available rooms for capacity increase but lacking personnel to staff those beds can partner with the state to get those needs met.

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