State temporarily suspends nursing regulations to boost staffing for potential surge of COVID-19 cases


HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvania has much fewer COVID-19 cases than states like New York or California, but officials aren’t waiting until things get that bad to address any potential nursing shortages.

So the Department of State and Health have decided to suspend some regulations for nurse licensure, to get as many hands on deck — and on standby — as possible.

Preparation and anticipation is key, says CEO of the PA State Nurses Association, Betsy Snook.

“We’re all trying to plan ahead for what we may have is a surge, now we may or may not have a surge and I don’t want people to go out panicking over this,” Snook said.

The need isn’t there yet, but the updated policies are in place.

Among them, allowing recent retirees to more easily reactivate their licenses, and for grad nurses to more quickly obtain a temporary one.

“Instead of waiting, you know one to three months to get it or however long it may take, they’re going to be able to get it quickly,” Snook said.

To also aid in the response, the state is temporarily extending license expiration dates and waiving associated fees, so nurses can work on caring for patients and tending to the crisis.

“What they’re trying to do is increase and maximize the flexibility that we have for the nurses that we may need,” Snook said.

Snook said Pennsylvania has 244,000 registered nurses, and it’s a top priority to make sure they each have personal protective equipment, or PPE.

“It’s important that we redirect and get those supplies to those places where they’re gonna be in most need,” she said.

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