R.I. Receives $ 7.2 million in federal funding to revive public health workers following the pandemic

The CDC’s funding structure is designed to build on the state’s existing workforce and help communities prepare for, respond to and recover from the consequences of a range of public health hazards, including epidemics, chemical, biological, radiological or natural disasters.

According to the agency’s website, a total of $ 2 billion has been sent to 65 current recipients of the CDC’s COVID-19 crisis response cooperation agreement. Funding extends over a two-year period beginning July 1 and ending June 30, 2023.

However, the plans of how these funds will be distributed and which organizations and institutions will benefit from them remain unclear. Joseph Wendelken, a spokesman for the state health ministry, told the Globe Thursday that the ministry would release a full plan by September 1.

Massachusetts received more than $ 41 million from the CDC in this program, compared to nearly $ 22 million in Connecticut and nearly $ 9 million in New Hampshire. Vermont received less than $ 5 million in funding and Maine received nearly $ 9 million.

Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, said 80 percent of the state’s health determinants can be addressed at the community level. And although health needs vary by community, she said this funding will help improve the health of the population.

“By investing in our community-based public health workforce, we ensure that every Rhode Island resident in every zip code across the state has access to the resources that promote healthy living, ensuring that we will like ours in the face of a crisis are resistant to COVID-19, ”said Alexander-Scott.

Senator Jack Reed, a Democrat, said Thursday the pandemic showed that public health emergency preparedness and response must take into account a number of factors influenced by demographic, cultural, social, economic and historical contexts. He said this was because populations with high levels of suspicion of the government are not as ready to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, and people affected by poverty and homelessness are at higher risk with to face chronic health problems as people who are stably housed with access to health care.

“Even if COVID-19 continues to dominate public health resources, we still need to look to the future and prepare for other public health emergencies,” said Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee who contributed to that To include funds in the funds for 2021 right.

The CDC guidelines require at least 25 percent of Rhode Island funds to be used to support school health programs, including nurses or other personnel. Wendelken said the health department is currently in talks with officials from the state education ministry to determine the districts’ needs. But he said the funding will be based on COVID-19. Of the remaining 75 percent or less, at least 40 percent support recruitment through local health departments or community-based organizations, including private nonprofits.

Both Lifespan and Care New England are private not-for-profit organizations and the first and second largest hospital systems in Rhode Island. While Lifespan received more CARES Act funding due to a higher COVID-19 patient count, it is unclear how those funds will be distributed across the systems. The two systems have also filed their application to merge with state and federal regulators. While these are still two separate systems and the application has not yet been deemed final by the Attorney General’s office, it is unclear whether the funding calculations take into account the potential for them to become one large entity that will become the largest employer in the state.

According to the CDC, the funding can be used to recruit staff for positions that range from senior management to early career and entry-level positions, including fellows, contractors, contractors, interns, and permanent and part-time workers. Employee.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has taught the importance of having the modern and well-equipped public health infrastructure we need to protect Rhode Island from the known and the unknown,” said Governor Dan McKee.

Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.

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