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Ohio Lawmakers are seeking aid for in 'distress' Summa Health

 A hospital bed awaits a patient.
A hospital bed awaits a patient.

Republicans and Democrats from northeast Ohio are asking the Ohio Department of Medicaid to label the Summa Health network a "distressed hospital."

This designation would free up federal funds to be used for workplace incentives.

In the letter addressed to Medicaid Director Maureen Corcoran, the bipartisan group of legislators note Summa Health is the the largest safety net health system for the Greater Akron region. But they say the hospitals are struggling with the latest COVID-19 surge.

"The Summa Health system is in a crisis state. We urge you to use the resources we supported in H.B. 169 to provide necessary state workforce incentives so that our region can manage through this crisis," the letter stated, signed by 11 representatives and senators from the region.

House Bill 169 appropriates $4.18 billion using dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act to support a variety of sectors including public health and education.

Rep. Casey Weinstein (D-Hudson) says Summa Health leaders told legislators they were seeing an increase in what was labeled "aggressive security incidents."

He says the dollars could beef up security resources but adds that people around the state need to model good behavior as hospitals deal with the latest surge of COVID-19.

"The message that we need to get out there is get vaccinated. Treat health care workers with respect. Treat them with care. They're there to help. I mean, unequivocally, they're there to help," says Weinstein.

Watch: Doctors discuss stressful environment in Ohio's hospitals.

Doctors have said they've seen an increase in hostility from patients' loved ones, such as questioning their treatment.

The federal funds can be used in a variety of ways to help incentivize overloaded health care workers.

Copyright 2021 The Statehouse News Bureau. To see more, visit The Statehouse News Bureau.

Andy Chow is a general assignment state government reporter who focuses on environmental, energy, agriculture, and education-related issues. He started his journalism career as an associate producer with ABC 6/FOX 28 in Columbus before becoming a producer with WBNS 10TV.