Rhode Island Governor

Rhode Island Democratic Gov. Dan McKee, front, waves during his inaugural address during a ceremonial inauguration ceremony, Sunday, March 7, 2021, in front of the Statehouse, in Providence, R.I. 

(The Center Square) – Gov. Dan McKee is taking measures in Rhode Island to help combat staffing issues in the state’s hospital as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The governor announced in a news release the COVID-19 Response Team issued new declarations to help hospitals handle the rising numbers of patients.

According to the release, the team has been working over the last several weeks on engagement with health care leaders, Medicaid, insurance providers, colleges and universities, and stakeholders to address staffing issues.

Among the declarations, the state will enhance and expedite emergency temporary licenses for recently graduated nurses and mobilize senior nursing students from the Community College of Rhode Island to begin clinical rotations earlier.

McKee said the National Guard is working to provide hospital staffing relief. Last week, 180 guard members were utilized to support testing, vaccination and hospital relief strategies, and this week 60 more will be mobilized at Butler Hospital to address staffing capacity issues.

According to the release, the administration is also working with Medicaid and health insurance providers to expedite hospital discharges to alleviate bed capacity.

Currently, data shows, there are 485 COVID-19 patients in the state’s hospitals. There are 47 patients in Intensive Care Units, and 32 are on ventilators.

Meanwhile, the governor announced Thursday that Dr. Nicole Alexander Scott has tendered her resignation as director of the Rhode Island Department of Health. Alexander-Scott, McKee said, played a vital role in the state securing funding for a new state laboratory facility.

“Dr. Alexander-Scott has been a steady, calm presence for Rhode Island as we’ve worked together to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” McKee said in a tweet. “Her leadership has been crucial to our whole of government response – helping Rhode Island become number one in testing nationwide and getting more people vaccinated per capita than nearly another other state in the country.”

Alexander-Scott will remain in the position for two weeks, while the state conducts its search for a new leader for the organization.

Associate Editor

Brent Addleman is an Associate Editor and a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He has served as editor of newspapers in Pennsylvania and Texas, and has also worked at newspapers in Delaware, Maryland, New York, and Kentucky.