County spending federal COVID dollars to train health care workers

Some new initiatives could help address the nursing home crisis

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. -The healthcare system in Monroe County is in crisis, there are not enough nursing home beds for people who need them and those folks are backing up inside our local hospitals. News10NBC has been reporting on the issue for months now.

So, what is Monroe County doing to help? County Executive Adam Bello addressed the problem during his “State of the County Health Care” address on Monday.

Over the last few years, Monroe County has invested $16.5 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to support what it calls the “Transformational Community Care Coordination Program” and “Community Care Coordination Program.”

The programs are a collaboration with Monroe Community Hospital and Finger Lakes Provider System and include workforce development for certified nursing assistants, home health aides, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses.

“A lot of these workforce programs, particularly in the health care field are done at no cost to the individual who is looking to get into that field, so we’re removing all these barriers,” explains County Executive Bello, barriers like childcare, transportation, tuition and certification costs.

“Over the next couple of years, we’re going to be training hundreds and hundreds of health care workers in this space but the county can’t do this alone,” Bello adds. That’s because once the workers are trained, they need a living wage and benefits, and nursing homes that accept Medicaid patients, aren’t even breaking even. “At the end of the day for this to be sustainable into the future, we really need an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate to match the cost that the health care system is facing,” says Bello.

As the County gets people ready for the jobs, the County Executive says he’s also asking our state delegation of lawmakers to boost the Medicaid reimbursement rate.