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Colorado reactivates Staffing Shortage Fusion Center to help health care facilities

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Posted at 6:59 PM, Sep 30, 2021

CENTENNIAL, Colo. — Staffing shortages aren't new in Colorado or across the country. For months, they've impacted restaurants, bars and even health care facilities.

This week, the Colorado Office of Emergency Management chose to reactivate its Staffing Shortage Fusion Center to help.

"The Staffing Shortage Fusion Center is a temporary stopgap measure to help coordinate medical supplemental staff for 24/7 facilities like residential care facilities, hospitals, correctional facilities, other licensed care facilities," said Mike Willis, the director of the Colorado Office of Emergency Management.

Eastern Colorado Services for the Developmentally Disabled is one of at least 14 health care facilities that is getting assistance from the Staffing Shortage Fusion Center.

"Since COVID, it has just been excruciating,"said Leeah Key with Eastern Colorado Services for the Developmentally Disabled. "We have a lot of different reasons why we can't find or retain staff."

Key said the COVID-19 vaccine mandate hasn't resulted in the loss of more employees, but she's worried it could in the future.

"At this point, we have not lost any staff to the vaccine mandate that just went into effect, but we have had a lot of push back from staff, and, you know, had there not been any type of exemptions, the medical and the religious exemption, I think we would have lost a lot more people," she said. "We cannot afford to lose one more body at this point."

While the Staffing Shortage Fusion Center was reactivated because of increasing COVID-19 rates, Willis said it will help health care facilities that are down employees because of the vaccine mandate.

The center will call in National Guardsmen to help health care facilities. Willis said the center is currently working on contracts for out-of-state employees as well.

As for Eastern Colorado Services for the Developmentally Disabled, it plans on welcoming two National Guardsmen to help as early as Friday afternoon.