Howard Commits $2.4M to Support Health Workers Amid COVID Surge

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has committed $2 million to the Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) and $400,000 to the Howard County Health Department in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding. The funding will address critical staffing needs at both organizations amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

“This latest COVID-19 surge caused by variants is overwhelming, and our healthcare workers, those on the frontlines, our EMS, and paramedics are exhausted,” said County Executive Ball. “During this pandemic – they’ve been asked again and again to step up, sacrificing their time, energy, and health for our community.  It is paramount that we invest in our healthcare workers, and our public health system, to retain our frontline employees and support them through this crisis.”

According to a County press release:

“Howard County General Hospital is grateful for the unwavering support we have received throughout the pandemic from the Howard County government,” said Shafeeq Ahmed, M.D., HCGH president. “This financial support will help us to continue providing critical care to our community, despite the challenges we face.”

County Executive Ball allocated the $400,000 to the Health Department over the holiday break, citing the phenomenal efforts of the staff to set-up testing, contact tracing, vaccination clinics, and the need to continue addressing other public health needs of the community.

“Our public health team has spent the last two years performing critical work to support the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Howard County,” said Health Officer Dr. Maura Rossman. “Investment in our workforce allows us to retain trained, experienced staff, putting the Health Department in a better position to serve our residents.”

MACo Legislative Initiative: Funding Fairness and Recognition for Emergency Transportation

The last time EMS billing rates were updated was in 1999. Current law allows EMS providers to bill up to $100 per ride to a hospital. No other services provided either in the field or while in transit are eligible for reimbursement.

Because of Maryland’s outdated EMS billing practices, volunteer, municipal, and county EMS services are struggling to survive – especially in the face of a national opioid crisis and a global pandemic. As such, MACo advocates for a statutory realignment of Maryland’s definition of care and compensation to recognize and enhance the role EMS plays in our healthcare system.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for more information.

Previous Conduit Street Coverage

Covid Surge Highlights Need for EMS Reform

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