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State Regulatory Waivers That Helped Hospitals, Health Care Providers During Pandemic Set To Expire

Published September 16, 2021 at 9:15 AM EDT

🎧 LISTEN • 22:30

📸: Jae C. Hong / AP

On today’s program: We hear how waivers that provided more flexibility and eased administrative burdens helped medical facilities face the pandemic, but they’re set to expire later this month; an obstetrician-gynecologist explains why a new bereavement leave policy for city employees will help those facing pregnancy loss; and a conversation about the increasing mental health needs of children and teenagers in the pandemic.

Medical waivers that lowered administrative barriers for health care workers set to expire (0:00 - 8:14)

Last year in the early weeks and months of the pandemic, hospitals and health care providers were swamped with patients who contracted COVID-19. Gov. Tom Wolf approved waivers to keep medical workers on the job and help bring in others, but those waivers are set to expire on Sept. 30.

“They were supposed to give a little bit of flexibility to people … [whose] jobs were upended or they were on the frontlines of fighting COVID,” says Danielle Ohl, a reporter with Spotlight PA.

One example of how these waivers worked is nurses or doctors with lapsed licenses could return to work in facilities, removing some administrative barriers.

Nearly 100 such waivers were implemented, however, Ohl says there isn’t good data on how many people used them.

Should the waivers not be extended, Ohl says boards that govern professions with waivers will be overwhelmed.

“In the most dire case, a nurse could be pulled off the floor because their paperwork didn’t go through or it expired,” says Ohl. “There is just a fear that the administrative burden isn’t going to be dealt with and they don’t really know what that means, and they don’t want to take a chance in breaking the law.”

Ohl says the legislature could extend the waivers, but it’s unclear if that will happen while the legislature is currently out of session.

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