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What to Know about the State’s Capacity Strike Teams

DOH launches effort to support hospital capacity, workforce

January 24, 2022

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) today announced the deployment of its first health care “strike team” to support Grand View Health in Bucks County.

The DOH hosted a media briefing today about the deployment, which includes registered nurses and respiratory therapists provided through GHR Healthcare under a contract with the DOH.

The teams will include health care professionals from outside the state to avoid exacerbating current staffing challenges within Pennsylvania, DOH officials said.

“The intent is that these staff will fill in for a limited time while hospitals develop their own longer-term sustainable staffing solutions,” Acting Secretary of Health Keara Klinepeter said.

The state strike teams may include physicians, advanced practice providers, nurses, and respiratory therapists, providing short-term staffing assistance for seven to 14 days. Hospitals will manage day-to-day work assignments for state strike team members.  

The DOH said it notified hospitals last week of the process to request short-term staffing support strike teams. Requests for staffing assistance are accepted on a rolling basis. Evaluations to match requests with available resources will be conducted twice per week, Klinepeter said.

The strike teams are part of a larger strategy by the Wolf administration to support hospitals and the health care workforce during the latest COVID-19 surge. The plan includes:

  • Capacity:  Regional support sites to accept patients transferred from hospitals challenged by shortages of beds or staff to meet demand for inpatient care. Each regional site will have increased capacity for approximately 60 days beginning in early or mid-February
  • Staffing:  The DOH will deploy critical staff to hospitals based on identified need. Deployments will occur during the next three months
  • Long-term care:  Regional long-term care support sites will be launched to allow for more rapid discharge of patients by hospitals

In Pennsylvania, there are 6,249 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, including 992 in the intensive care unit and 612 on ventilators.

The initiative is separate from the teams from the Federal Emergency Management Association to support hospitals in Lackawanna and York counties. Both federal strike teams will be in place until the beginning of March, the DOH said.

A replay of today’s briefing is available online.

HAP will continue to monitor the rollout of the state resources and provide updates to members.

For more information, contact Jennifer Jordan, vice president, regulatory advocacy, or Christopher Chamberlain, vice president, emergency management, MS, RN, CHEP.