Durbin Meets With Illinois Health And Hospital Association To Discuss Workforce Shortages, COVID-19 Recovery

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today met with Illinois Health and Hospital Association (IHA) President AJ Wilhelmi and several Illinois hospital representatives to discuss workforce shortages and additional support for hospitals recovering from the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic. During their conversation, Durbin received an update about how hospitals have coped with increased financial strains while maintaining quality care and access for patients.


Congress has previously allocated $178 billion to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to compensate for lost revenue with Illinois hospitals, nursing homes, physician groups, and drug treatment centers receiving more than $6.1 billion in funding. When this funding was allotted, Durbin ensured that HHS methodologies better supported COVID-19 hotspots, children’s hospitals, safety net providers, and vulnerable populations.


“Our health care workers have given all they can to their community during the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot thank them enough for their contributions and for risking their own health to care for others,” Durbin said. “In sitting down with IHA and Illinois hospital leaders today, I expressed my gratitude for their work. Together, we talked through potential solutions to the workforce shortages our hospitals are facing as health care providers feel burnt out after an emotionally and physically taxing two and a half years. I’ll continue to be a strong partner to our health care workforce and offer the necessary federal support to give our patients access to the best care possible.”


To address health care workforce issues, Durbin has introduced the bipartisan Healthcare Workforce Resilience Act, which would provide a temporary stopgap to quickly address the nation’s shortage of doctors and nurses.


Durbin also secured a historic $1 billion in the American Rescue Plan for the National Health Service Corps and Nurse Corps to build a more diverse pipeline of clinicians and recruit more health providers to serve in shortage areas.  In January, Durbin sent a letter to Illinois health care providers, clinics and hospitals, schools of medicine, nursing, and dentistry urging them to encourage health care workers to take advantage of the National Health Service Crops and Nurse Corps scholarships offering loan repayment.


Last week, Durbin unveiled the three-year report of the Chicago HEAL Initiative, a collaboration he convened with the IHA and ten major hospitals serving Chicago to address the root causes of violence.  As part of the effort, the hospitals provided workforce development programs such as apprenticeships to an average of 6,072 high school and college students from the 18 Chicago neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence, poverty, and inequality.  This represents a 28 percent increase since 2018 in students served by programs that build a local workforce pipeline to promote careers in health care fields.


A photo of the meeting is available here.