U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has secured federal funds to help revitalize the state’s overburdened health care system.
During a virtual press conference Tuesday, Gillibrand said she has secured more than $130 million in funds. Some $42.3 million of the overall funds will be appropriated for maternal health, $50 million is authorized for bolstering the community health care workforce, $9.2 million has been set for Academic Centers for Public Health Preparedness, $47 million for Area Health Education Centers, and $33 million for Lyme and tick-borne diseases.
“New York is currently facing a significant health care worker shortage and strain on our public health infrastructure that is burdening workers and patients alike,” Gillibrand said. “The $130 million I fought for will play a fundamental role in easing this burden and building the capacity of our health care workforce across the state. This significant funding also invests in key medical priorities, like research for Lyme and tick-borne diseases and addressing the rising rate of maternal deaths in the United States. These programs will help ensure all New York patients receive the care they deserve and will promote positive health outcomes for populations in medically underserved communities. New York’s health care system and our health care providers have been under historic levels of stress and these federal dollars will help get us back on track and build a more resilient future.”
With the spread of COVID-19 variants on the rise, Gillibrand said this funding comes at an important time.
“This is critical because of the current COVID-19 variants, including the COVID-19 XBB.1.5 subvariant which is continuing to spread,” she said. “These funds will help us to prepare for future pandemics and to revitalize the healthcare system.”
Gillibrand continued by saying these funds will be able to give healthcare systems in New York state what they require to move on from the COVID-19 pandemic and to prepare for any future pandemics, and the future in general.
About $34 million will be going into Gillibrand’s Into the Light for Maternal Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders Act, which allows for states to create programs to address maternal mental health and substance abuse. The funding for maternal mental health will support maternal health care services and address the maternal mortality and postpartum depression problem. It also funds a Maternal Mental Health Hotline to provide a 24-hour emergency contact for struggling mothers and families in need of support.
The funds going toward community health care will support public health jobs and infrastructure in New York State and across the country, and builds on legislation set to train and hire hundreds of thousands of Americans to build public health capacity in underserved communities.
The funding for Academic Centers will support institutions with Centers for Public Health Preparedness. Gillibrand said academic medical centers have been at the forefront of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and have historically been used to establish infrastructure for advancing life-saving medical discoveries.
“This forward-thinking federal investment will provide direct support and fortify our nation’s emergency response preparedness by supporting cutting-edge research, education, patient care, and community outreach,” Gillibrand said.
Another $33 million will be going into research for Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases, which Gillibrand said is a growing problem within the state — with more than 90,000 cases reported over the last two decades.
The funds for Area Health Education Centers will go toward supporting these centers that allow for high school students to be introduced to careers in healthcare. The centers also work with local nursing, medical, and physician assistant schools to provide students an opportunity to understand the factors that can influence someone’s overall health and access to quality care.
This specifically goes towards the more than 6 million New Yorkers who live in primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas. Those locations include the Erie Niagara Area Health Education Center in Buffalo and the Western New York Rural Area Health Education Center in Warsaw.
For other local institutions, the rest of the funds will go to the state, and local healthcare organizations will be able to apply for grants. Once the state receives the money there will be a website available and an application process to follow, but Gillibrand said if some are struggling to apply or receive funds, they can email her office at email@example.com for help.
More than anything, Gillibrand said these funds will help the health-care system in New York state look to the future.
“More funds for the healthcare system in the state will allow for the system to build back after the pandemic and lay the groundwork for a better future for the healthcare system and workforce,” Gillibrand said.