DALLAS - A dispute over money is delaying some North Texas hospitals from getting enough staff in place to deal with new COVID cases.
Last year, local hospitals went to the state when they needed extra staffing to handle the first covid surge.
This time, hospitals say they're facing another surge with fewer people to choose from. And the people they can get to help are getting paid more this time around.
There are almost 1,900 COVID patients in North Texas. This, as hospitals in this area need more than 600 extra staff. It’s a process that's going to take longer after a recent state decision.
Once again, North Texas hospital beds are filling up with covid patients.
Four weeks ago, the entire state had 1,800 COVID patients. Tuesday, just the North Texas region had more than 1,800 patients. And it's taking a toll.
Hospitals across the state are seeing staffing shortages.
Carrie Kroll with the Texas Hospital Association says some left the health industry from pandemic fatigue. Others left for higher wages in other states.
"The pipeline of workforces is dwindling," she said. "We need more people in to provide that staffing. But also, as more patients come right, we need to be able to expand our capacity to serve them to."
Because of the shortage, North Texas hospitals submitted a request for more than 600 medical surge staff.
Earlier in the pandemic, the request was handled by the state. Now, the state is directing hospitals to ask for financial help from counties and cities.
Local governments received hundreds of millions of dollars in federal COVID aid. But some or all of that money has already been allocated for other services.
"We don't know that all local areas have set that money aside. We don't know how money is still there," Kroll said. "We don't know that they even are inclined to help support us in terms of the staffing."
The Texas Department of Emergency Management tells FOX 4 that counties and local governments can get 100% reimbursement from FEMA until Sept. 30.
Stephen Love with the DFW Hospital Council says this doesn’t mean hospitals won't be able to hire staff. It just means the process could take longer. This, while patient levels are increasing.
"We are still going to get through this," he said. "But it's going to be more complicated and it's probably going to be much more time-consuming."
Love says he is worried about the rural counties in our area that have less money and pull in Austin.