Overflow units will open at four Pennsylvania nursing homes, including one in Philadelphia, in the state’s latest effort to ease the burden on hospitals pushed to the brink by an influx of patients infected with omicron, a nationwide staffing shortage, and workers out sick with the virus, the Department of Health announced Monday.

Up to 30 additional beds for patients will open at Springs at the Watermark in Philadelphia, as well as at facilities in Pittsburgh, Blair County, and Clarion County, acting Health Secretary Keara Klinepeter said, to “allow for more rapid discharge of patients from hospitals.”

The initiative aims to add capacity to overwhelmed hospitals and skilled nursing facilities by providing up to 120 extra beds statewide for patients who are ready to leave the hospital but need longer-term care — to recover from either COVID-19 or other medical issues. Those who need ongoing rehabilitation are sometimes discharged to skilled nursing facilities, but the facilities have often been at capacity during the surge.

Hospital administrators across the region and the state have said such a move would help them because they often have beds taken up in their acute-care wards by patients who should be discharged to rehab facilities, which then can create backlogs in emergency rooms as new patients wait for hospital beds.

Some Pennsylvania hospitals have been over capacity and overwhelmed for weeks. Though there were signs last week that pressure on hospitals might begin to ease after the omicron surge hit its peak, they remain highly stressed.

“This will benefit all Pennsylvanians because it will free additional acute-care space,” Klinepeter said Monday at a news conference. “When hospitals are full largely due to COVID-19, it could mean care is delayed for people who really need it.”

» READ MORE: Declining omicron surge is a promising sign for Pa. and N.J. hospitals. But ‘it’s not over yet.’

The overflow sites will open in the next seven to 10 days and operate for 90 days, though the secretary said that length of time is flexible. Details about exactly how many patients each site can take will come next week; Klinepeter said the 30-bed estimate was based on the number the federal government’s strike teams have used.

The four selected facilities have extra space for the units, which will be staffed by contracted nurses and aides. Pennsylvania National Guard members will fill nonmedical roles.

More sites may open in the coming weeks; the department is in discussions with several other facilities, Klinepeter said. And officials have been planning similar sites at a few hospitals — two run by the federal government are operating at hospitals in York and Scranton, and the Department of Health may expand them, she said.

» READ MORE: What can we learn from omicron? Here are 7 steps public health leaders say we should take before the next surge.

New cases and hospitalizations are continuing to decline in Pennsylvania after peaking in the middle of January. Still, the commonwealth on Monday was averaging more than 12,000 new cases — higher than the peak of any previous surge — and nearly 6,000 virus-related hospitalizations — a number not seen since last winter’s surge, according to data analyzed by the New York Times.

In New Jersey, cases are declining even more rapidly, plummeting 72% over the last week to just over 6,000, according to the Times’ data, while the state is averaging nearly 3,800 hospitalizations.

Pennsylvania first announced that “regional support sites” were being planned to aid overwhelmed hospitals and their exhausted workers on Jan. 7, as the omicron surge approached its peak and many facilities were at or near capacity.

Asked last week why these and other measures weren’t enacted earlier in the surge, Klinepeter said it took time for the state to free up funds. On Monday, she said hospital leaders had told state officials they still wanted the sites and, noting the still-high hospitalization numbers, said the initiative remained valuable for public health.

“While we are starting to see [the surge] crest and starting to see that downward trend, 5,500 cases in the hospital is still an acute situation,” Klinepeter said, citing the state’s seven-day average hospitalization number.

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Last week, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a law allocating $225 million to hospitals for recruiting and retention of staff, along with funding a program that helps nurses repay student loans, and the state also launched short-term strike teams to assist stressed hospital staff.

A strike team arrived at three Crozer Health hospitals in Delaware County over the weekend and will stay for 10 days, officials said Monday. It was the second team to be deployed after the first went to Grand View Health in Bucks County.

Hospital leaders requested the state send the strike team, which includes 20 registered nurses and four respiratory therapists, according to Crozer.

“We are all so grateful to these nurses,” Crozer Health chief nurse executive Christine Mendez said in a statement. “Our greatest needs right now are in the ICU and on the night shift, and their help there is invaluable.”