News Releases

Washington State Department of Health will receive a more than $44 million award from FEMA to help hire additional health care staff across the state amidst current health care staffing shortages

ICYMI: As COVID Strains Eastern and Central Washington Health Care Systems, Senator Murray Pushes for Major Investments in Public Health Infrastructure – MORE HERE

Senator Murray: “I’m glad to see this federal relief going to our state’s hospitals to help address staffing shortages and support our health care heroes, who have been working under impossible circumstances for more than 19 months”

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, announced a $44,178,124.56 award from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) to help fund health care and public health staff increases across the state as many hospitals face staffing shortages. The federal relief comes following a request from the Washington State DOH for funding to hire 1,210 contracted medical and support personnel of different kinds to provide critical essential services at healthcare facilities in Washington state through the end of the year. The funding comes via FEMA’s Stafford Act authority, which allows the agency to provide disaster relief.

“I’ve heard from nurses and doctors from Harborview to Providence that they are exhausted after more than a year and half of working around the clock, to save lives as COVID-19 strained our health care system. As I continue to fight for long-term investments in our health care infrastructure, I’m glad to see this federal relief going to our state’s hospitals to help address staffing shortages and support our health care heroes, who have been working under impossible circumstances for more than 19 months,” said Senator Murray. “The best way we can help our health care workers and beat this pandemic is to get everyone vaccinated—so if you have yet to get vaccinated please, speak to your health care provider. The vaccine is safe, it is effective, and it will help us all get past this pandemic.”

As the Chair of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Murray successfully secured $50 billion in Democrats’ American Rescue Plan for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund to ramp up the national vaccination program and provide flexible, targeted assistance to state, local, and Tribal governments. On top of this relief, Senator Murray also secured $8 billion for public health workforce development, $14 billion for vaccine distribution, nearly $50 billion for testing, tracing, and personal protective equipment, and many more investments in the nation’s health care response to COVID-19 as part of the American Rescue Plan.

As a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, Senator Murray has also played a pivotal role in negotiating and advancing investments for public health in the upcoming Build Back Better budget. As Chair of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Murray is leading the Democratic Caucus in shepherding through key priorities, which includes building on the largest expansion of health care since the Affordable Care Act. In particular, Senator Murray has highlighted her Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act (PHISLA), legislation that would establish a core public health infrastructure program to strengthen the country’s public health system—including the nation’s ability to respond to the COVID–19 pandemic—through grants to State, territorial, local, and Tribal health departments and increased investments at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

A one pager on the Public Health Infrastructure Saves Lives Act can be found HERE.

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