MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Additional funding is coming to two local hospital systems after Shelby County commissioners approved $8 million to be split between Baptist and Methodist hospitals.

The funds are expected to play a vital role in supporting hospitals as they continue to try to navigate a pandemic that is still claiming lives daily. 

“I realized that this is a really small amount of money, if you look at your overall budgets, but I also realize having worked at Methodist Le Bonheur for 10 years, every nickel counts,” Commissioner Mark Billingsley said. “And I know Keith Norman and Reginald Coopwood would say the same thing.”

The money comes from the Shelby County General Fund and will go toward addressing the local hospitals trauma capacity and other challenges caused by COVID-19. 

“This opportunity will go a long way helping to address staffing challenges that we’ve experienced since this pandemic started as now there is a definite lack of nurses and health care workers,” said Michael Ugwueke, President and CEO of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare.

Officials with Baptist Memorial Health care say the fund is an investment in the future and could help to save lives.

“It’s going to be extremely important that we replenish all of those who are in our nursing ranks, all those who have been impacted, but to also look at the long range services that we need to provide for this entire region,” said Keith Norman, Baptist’s VP of government relations.

The seven-day average of COVID cases locally has dropped over the last week, a trend that health leaders hope continues.