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Missouri health care system receiving $30M in support 

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri is bolstering its health care system with $30 million in federal funds as COVID-19 case rates surge and hospitals around the state face high demand. 

Half of the allocation is earmarked to provide staffing for Missouri-licensed and CMS-approved critical access, long-term care, and critical care hospitals. The funds will be administered on a tiered basis, with caps ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 based on the number of licensed or certified beds at each facility. 

The remaining $15 million is set aside to establish up to eight state-funded monoclonal antibodies (MAB) infusion stations across the state. MABs are proteins that help the body fight off the virus and can reduce the chances of severe illness or hospitalizations. These sites will operate for 30 days and treat up to 2,000 patients across the state, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS).

Gov. Mike Parson said the investment, which will be funded through the CARES Act, would help address concerns raised by the state’s health care workers.

“We’ve consistently heard from our health care partners that staffing is one of the biggest challenges we continue to face,” Parson said. “Our health care workers have been on the frontlines since day one, and our goal is to provide continued support with this additional effort.”

The departments of Mental Health and Corrections, the Division of Youth Services, and the Missouri Veterans Commission are eligible to join staffing contracts as well. The state is working with vendors to support these staffing efforts, which do not conflict with the staffing agreement with Vizient, Inc. that began in December. 

The Missouri Disaster Medical Assistance Team (MO DMAT-1) has managed the Monoclonal Antibody Centralized Infusion Center in Springfield since July 23. The center had treated 319 patients as of Tuesday, reducing the strain on local hospitals facing high case rates. 

“DHSS stands ready and willing to take on this effort,” DHSS Acting Director Robert Knodell said. “Our health care system remains strong and focused on providing the best patient care possible. We believe this funding will provide relief in the system where it’s needed most.”

Missouri is also fighting the pandemic through its vaccination efforts; more than 375,000 applicants have signed up for the MO VIP program, a vaccine incentive initiative that 900 Missourians will have the chance to win cash or prizes amounting to $10,000 over the next few months. The program will use federal relief funds to award adults receiving the vaccine as well as grant education savings accounts to students, with the first drawing scheduled for Friday.

Missouri reported more than 14,000 positive COVID-19 cases in the past seven days and 53 deaths. Around 50 percent of the state’s adults have received at least an initial dose of the vaccine, and 52 percent are fully inoculated.