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FEMA to pay $47.9M to hire 955 medical staff for Hawaii

The Maui News

Hawaii will receive more than $47 million to help pay for 955 state-contracted medical staff to assist local hospitals that are struggling with the omicron surge of COVID-19, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency announced Wednesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has obligated the advance of $47.9 million, half of the $95.8 million sought by the state Department of Health at the request of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, according to HI-EMA, which managed and facilitated the emergency funding request to FEMA.

The funds will help deploy 955 medical personnel from Jan. 10 through April 1, according to a news release. Personnel hired under the DOH contract with ProLink Healthcare began deploying to Hawaii hospitals last week.

DOH and HI-EMA have asked to have 50 percent of the funding — $47.9 million — obligated in advance to expedite payment to the medical personnel, whose services have been in high demand as the omicron variant has sent COVID infections rocketing to new highs around the world. FEMA confirmed Wednesday that those advance funds have been obligated.

The funding is part of FEMA’s Public Assistance program to reimburse eligible costs for emergency personnel assisting with COVID response work, according to a news release. Allowable expenses covered by 100 percent federal funds during the pandemic include medical surge personnel to supplement existing staff at hospitals to reduce or eliminate the spread of the virus.

HI-EMA spokesperson Adam Weintraub said Wednesday that while earlier medical surge funding was dedicated for nurses, this current award also includes technicians and other medical staff.

When asked how the funding and personnel would be divided among counties, Weintraub said details will be worked out by the Health Department and Healthcare Association of Hawaii along with the contractor, ProLink.

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