By Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services
Gov. Doug Ducey is offering up to $60 million in federal cash to hospitals to help with staffing — but only if they start promoting and treating some patients with early indications of Covid with monoclonal antibodies.
Christina Corieri, senior adviser to the governor, said the money will buy the services of 750 nurses for eight weeks at hospitals. She said the nurses will be hired by the Department of Health Services and distributed to facilities based on need.
The move comes as several hospitals have said they are stretched to close to capacity, at least in part because of Covid patients who are occupying 30% of their intensive-care beds. And when patients with other conditions are added in, that leaves just 148 vacant ICU beds statewide, or 8%, similar to what was the situation when the virus peaked in January before vaccines were available.
But the significant string attached is that any hospital chain that wants the help will need to have a system-wide practice of promoting and administering monoclonal antibodies, a type of therapy available to those with mild to moderate Covid symptoms that can decrease the level of virus in the blood and, potentially, keep someone out of a hospital.