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Gillibrand urges Congress for $1 billion in funding for community health workers

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.
Paul Sancya

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) has requested that Congress provide at least $1 billion in funds for community health workers in the upcoming COVID-19 supplemental funding package.

The money Gillibrand seeks would be used to address the workforce shortage that she attributed to the coronavirus and monkeypox health crises. She said that the pressures placed on healthcare workers have driven many to retirement and to hospitals that can offer better pay.

“Overworked and understaffed, our public health workforce is burned out,” Gillibrand said. “States are scrambling to find enough qualified healthcare workers to meet existing needs.”

Gillibrand cited a recent visit to a hospital network that had over 40 open positions, which they were unable to fill. While previous federal coronavirus relief funds have lightened their burden, Gillibrand said the lack of staffing is evidence that health systems are not fully recovered yet from the challenges presented by the pandemic.

"Years of local budget cuts and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have weakened local hospital systems in New York," she said. But with “health force money,” New York City was able to get $35 million to train 500 entry-level healthcare workers.

“I had the chance to meet some of these workers several months ago,” Gillibrand said. “And it was clear to me that providing more support, not only for emergency rooms and hospitals, but also for these workers, their communities, and public health systems, is so necessary."

Emily is a former news intern at WSHU.