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Gov. Beshear signs executive order declaring Kentucky’s nursing shortage an emergency

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gives a media briefing at the State Capitol Building on July 14, 2020.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear gives a media briefing at the State Capitol Building on July 14, 2020.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear signed an executive order on Thursday declaring the state’s nursing shortage an emergency during the pandemic.

He said the order will address barriers by allowing for increases in nursing school enrollment and will permit nurses licensed in other states to work in Kentucky. Beshear also plans to include bonus pay for nurses in his budget.

“You can also expect my next budget will have a loan forgiveness and/or scholarship program for nurses that agree to stay in Kentucky for a certain period of time,” Beshear said.

The order charges the Kentucky Board of Nursing with approving requests for increased enrollment at nursing schools that have the capacity to take on more students.

“The order will also require that any school that has that full capacity that gets an applicant that is qualified to refer them to a school that still has vacancies,” Beshear said.

Beshear also discussed loan forgiveness for both nursing students and nursing school faculty.

On Wednesday, Beshear announced a 10% raise for social workers.

When asked if the legislature could undo the raises, Beshear said he doesn’t think that’s likely.

“They set the amount of money that we have to pay social workers overall,” Beshear said. “Theoretically, could they slash that amount that's there to DCBs thus resulting in us having to look at other options? Sure they could, but I just don't anticipate that.”

Beshear said he plans to budget for more than 300 new social worker positions to help lower case loads.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.

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