August 3, 2022
Albany, NY

Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Makes a Health Care Workforce Announcement

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Video, Audio, Photos & Rush Transcript: Governor Hochul Makes a Health Care Workforce Announcement
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Governor Hochul: "We all saw during the pandemic that there are individuals who were on the frontlines. We talk about them, we honor them, and not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear scrubs...it's time to start bolstering that workforce. And I committed during my first State of the State Address, that we would grow our workforce by 20 percent over the next five years. It's ambitious, it's bold, but that's what we do."

Hochul: "Today, we're here to announce our 1,000 scholarship winners of our Nurses for the Future Program...I'm announcing that we're making good on our promise to launch an online portal for healthcare worker bonuses. This is where employers can claim bonuses for their eligible workers. We have identified who the eligible workers are to make sure that $1.3 billion in funds are to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 and have remained in their physicians for at least six months."

Earlier today, Governor Kathy Hochul announced the launch of the Health Care and Mental Hygiene Worker Bonus program. Enacted in the Fiscal Year 2023 New York State Budget, the program includes $1.3 billion allocated for the payment of recruitment and retention bonuses to certain health care and mental hygiene workers, a key initiative in the Governor's aim to increase the state's health care workforce by 20 percent over the next five years. 

The Governor also announced nearly 1,000 new future nurses as part of the ongoing efforts to strengthen and bolster New York State's health care workforce. Applicants were announced as winners of the "Nurses for Our Future" Scholarship Program - an initiative designed to recruit and retrain nursing and healthcare professionals to serve as New York State Registered Nurses, which are in high demand. Winners will receive tuition to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing at a two-year or four-year SUNY or CUNY college or university.

VIDEO of the event is available on YouTube here and in TV quality (h.264, mp4) format here

AUDIO of the event is available here.

PHOTOS of the event will be available on the Governor's Flickr page

A rush transcript of the Governor's remarks is available below: 

Good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us. A little cooler here than it was yesterday. Right, Zach? Did you see anything really special yesterday? Nothing but net, Zach. Nothing but net. That's how we roll here. That was fun, but a little hotter yesterday than it was today. 

But, I do want to acknowledge some individuals who have joined us here today starting with the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, Roberta Reardon. She travels all over because I just saw her yesterday up in Saratoga County. You are extraordinary, and I want to thank you for helping lead one of the initiatives that we are talking about here today. 

Dr. Guillermo Linares, who is the President of Higher Education Services Corporation. Thank you for what you are doing on the higher education front - another one of our announcements. Also, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, it is always a pleasure. Thank you for your leadership as the Higher Education Chair in the Assembly. And we have a special guest, Tanaya England, who is a part of City Administration for Children's Services. She is going to talk about one of our fun initiatives as well. 

So, we are going to be talking about some of the steps we are taking to bolster our health care workforce, but as always, we want to give a quick update on monkeypox, COVID, so let's just get started with that. When it comes to our COVID cases: happiness. You can see there's been a stabilization statewide. That's encouraging news, but also we are going to prepare for the fall. I made an announcement on this several weeks ago, our Fall Action Plan has getting 3 million test kits into schools, which we think is good looking forward because every child needs to be in school this fall, and we have to keep them safe. But the experiment of education at home is in the rearview mirror. If we don't want to go back to that, we need these kids in school. So, we are getting test kits out to them as well. Our PPE stockpile, again, with foreign supply chains that have only worsened since the pandemic, we are also building up our reserves, as well as promoting boosters, vaccines, testing and treatments. And our cases, again, stabilizing in most places, but we continue to monitor. As soon as there's a little shift, we launch into action and find out what's going on. We are making sure that people are getting all the supplies of vaccines and booster shots they need.

Also, the monkeypox outbreak - as you know, we announced a Declaration of Emergency, and here's why. We are seeing higher cases, you can see them across the State, about 1,617, growing quickly. And we'll be talking about our vaccination allocation as well. We have 170,000 to date, making sure that we are receiving our fair share. As I mentioned before, this is a conversation I've had with the White House. They originally were allocating based on population. We are not the most populated state, but we are the state with the highest number of cases. So, we wanted them to shift how the other cases are going, even though there's a limited supply globally. So, we are working around the clock to do that, as well as a public education campaign to really talk about the vulnerable communities. Let's get this out there, we are not shying away from this. Dr. Mary Bassett has been doing an incredible job, just speaking truth and telling people what behaviors are at risk, and being really smart about this.

But as we said before, about one out of four cases in this country are in New York State and with a high concentration in New York City. So, the reason we declared a Declaration of Emergency, it allows us to respond more quickly. What does that look like? That means when we do have more of a supply of vaccines, which we are anxious to get our hands on. We can have more people allocate them other than just physicians. That allows us to have EMTs and pharmacists and others in the healthcare system, midwives, people who can help administer them. So when we get under a crunch situation, you want to have more people who are eligible to do this. We needed the Declaration to do this. Also, we want the providers to send us the vaccine data information, which they weren't required to do before.

So, working with the White House around the clock, as well as Dr. Jha, who we are in regular communication with, as well as other federal officials, we are glad to see that the Administration is stepping up. We also have Dr. Demetre Daskalakis from New York City. He's on the White House Panel. So, he is our direct point of contact to make sure we get our share. So, we talked about the fact that we'd be soon getting 760,000 more doses, more vaccines. The federal government will be getting that many more, and 110,000 are coming to New York State, 80,000 of which we are going to New York City. You can see our allocations thus far, our different tranches. Our last allocation - we are waiting to get those out to add to the numbers in New York City as well. 

New York City gets them directly from the federal government, but in our Phase Three, we've allocated over 16,000 statewide. We are going to be doing about another 12,000 more, and I'm allocating additional 4,000 to the City on top of what they're getting from the federal government. So, we are looking at the disease burden, where it's most concentrated and we are being really smart about that. So we are confronting, this outbreak with the urgency that it requires, our full-on attention and trying to protect the communities and getting the vaccines out there.

But also, to do this, and to do everything related to COVID in other areas, we need a really strong health care workforce. And that's what I want to talk about today. So, we are going to be talking about the fact that we all saw during the pandemic that there are individuals who were on the frontlines. We talk about them, we honor them, and not all heroes wear capes. Some of them wear scrubs. We saw that. And these individuals - it's really taken a toll on their own personal lives. We lost a lot of people who had been healthcare workers who had trained for this. They're concerned about their own health, their own safety, ultimately, but the vast, vast majority did stay. 

And they're the foundation of our medical system, and they got us through the last two and a half years. There's no doubt about it. Thank God for them. But it did come in a cost, a physical cost, an emotional cost. And they're overworked and underpaid. And they did feel as time went on, and people were not complying with getting vaccinated, they just felt frustrated. I saw that as I toured the state, speaking to many nurses. They just didn't understand why people weren't protecting themselves. So, they've been through a lot, but even before the pandemic, we saw signs that the need for health care workers back in 2018 would grow by 32 percent over the next few years - between then and 2028, over the next decade. So, we saw that coming already.

Then you have the pandemic wreaking havoc on the whole ecosystem and as a result, our hospitals, our nursing homes, our long-term facilities and even the homes for our loved ones, people who work in their homes, there's a severe shortage of workers to go in there. So, it's not just a crisis for these workers, it's a crisis for all of us who really need that health care as well. So, it's time to start bolstering that workforce. 

And I committed during my first State of the State Address, that we would grow our workforce by 20 percent over the next five years. It's ambitious, it's bold, but that's what we do. And we are going to start by making it easier to become a health care worker. And "easier" means relieving the financial crunch that is required to get the education necessary.

So today, we're here to announce our 1,000 scholarship winners of our Nurses for the Future Program. We invested over $15 million of our COVID money. We had people selected by a lottery. I announced this way back. 63,000 people applied for 1,000 slots. Now, that tells me a few things. There's a lot of interest out there. And so, as we go forth, I'm not making any premature announcements here, but I'm looking at this saying, "There's demand. People need help to pay for their education. Let's get that done on an ongoing basis." So, I'll be talking to my team about our State of the State address -  that's for the future. That's for next year. 

But, over 98 percent of the people who applied were from New York. We wanted to bring people in from other states as well to get them to move here. And over 400 of these winners will be right in the New York City area. So, we're going to have scholarships. They're going to be able to have their education either four full-time semesters or part-time equivalent to a four-year degree at a SUNY or CUNY institution. We have to support our state institutions. And really when they get their degree, they'll commit to stay with us for over two years. And so hopefully, they'll build their lives right here in the State of New York. And so, that's going to be one element toward a multifaceted approach toward increasing our health care supply. 

But right now, we have about 9,300 openings for health care nurses, health care workers across the state, particularly registered nurses. And it's really - it's important for us to recruit the next generation of workers. 

So, Tanaya, you're going to be telling us a little bit about what it's like to be part of that workforce team. I know you're going to - but it's not enough just to bring new nurses into the field, which is one strategy, it's also about showing appreciation to those who are already. They've been through a lot. I don't need to describe it any further than I have. Just walk up and talk to someone and ask them what life has been like since March of 2020. It's been so hard for them. And they did stay in, we've been hemorrhaging health care workers, and now I've talked about this for a long time. We owe them more than just a debt of gratitude. We owe them a way to help pay their debts. And as I said in my State of the State address, we would pay them in bonuses. 

And so today, I'm announcing that we're making good on our promise to launch an online portal for health care worker bonuses. This is where employers can claim bonuses for their eligible workers. We have identified who the eligible workers are to make sure that $1.3 billion in funds are to eligible workers who make less than $125,000 and have remained in their positions for at least six months. That will equate to up to $3,000 per worker because we still have to keep these health care workers.

They have been enticed to go to other states. They have other traveling nurses opportunities which are much more lucrative. So, just as a sign of our gratitude, but also just to lift their financial burden, we're going to continue those programs as well. And you'll hear about that. So, that's just two ways we're working to bolster our health care workforce.

But we're also, as I mentioned during our budget, we're investing over $20 billion in our health care industry overall. $2.4 billion for health care infrastructure and lab capacity because it's antiquated, has not been invested in many facilities. If you're shaking your head, you know about that as well. Plus almost $4 billion in aid to hospitals that are struggling from COVID. Remember, their services were shut down. They did not have elective surgeries. They really took a huge financial hit during this. So, we have to keep them alive. Having them closed is not an option. It's not an option. So, we have to help them as well. Plus, increasing the wages for home health care aids who have been underpaid for too long. $7.7 billion to help lift them up by increasing their wages as well. 

So, these are just some of the aspects we presented a few months ago. I just want to give you an update on where we are. We're making real progress, and that's how we continue to recruit people, retain our workforce and make sure that we're there doing much more than just saying thank you for the past. We're already also invested in you in the future, and this is what we're excited about. So, as long as you show up to your work in New York State, we'll have your backs just like you all have ours.

Contact the Governor's Press Office

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