Nurses and medical professionals may help during outbreak, even without proper license

Coronavirus

DENVER (KDVR) — A spokesperson for Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies says the state has received dozens of inquiries from people with medical experience about how they can be of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Ask the questions of us now,” said Jill Sarmo, who represents the agency. “That way if the call does come out, or if they are contacted by a healthcare facility that needs them, they’ll be ready to go.”

Sarmo said the governor directed DORA to prepare the necessary infrastructure, so that when a need for more medical professionals comes, the state will be ready to put people to work immediately.

“There’s a lot of that administrative work on the back end that has to take place,” said Sarmo.

Wednesday, the state issued new guidance for healthcare professionals who are not currently licensed in Colorado. Many will be able assist when needed due to various provisions in Colorado law.

The Nurse Practice Act, for example, “allows for the rendering of nursing assistance in the case of an emergency,” according to a fact sheet published by the DORA.  “This is generally regarded as a ‘Good Samaritan’ law and allows for the provision of nursing assistance by appropriately trained individuals whose services are delivered in connection with a specific emergency.”

Sarmo acknowledged the current COVID-19 situation in Colorado is an emergency.

“With the governor’s declaration of a state of emergency on March 11, that is now something that allows for that,” said Sarmo.

“As long as a nurse isn’t holding him/herself out as licensed by the state of Colorado, he/she is able to practice under the emergency provision of the Nurse Practice Act, and would not need a license from the Colorado Nursing Board during the period of state emergency,” Sarmo said. 

The provision also only applies during the emergency order issued by the governor, said Sarmo. 

The state is also waiving licensing requirements and rules “in order to allow for late renewals, reinstatements (for the emergency period), and reactivations (for the emergency period) of volunteer nurses and other qualified licensed providers from out of state, so as to support measures to reduce or prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to protect the public,” a document published by DORA indicated.

However, Sarmo said only those professionals who were in good standing at the time their previous licenses expired or went inactive might qualify.

Amber Manresa, who practiced nursing in Australia and Singapore and worked as a paramedic in California, said she is anxious to help.

“I mean, this is unprecedented times,” she said. “Let’s get people out there that want to work and are willing to work and are willing to help!”

Manresa said she has struggled to transfer her now expired international credentials to a nursing role in the Colorado, but she is hoping she can provide services during this crisis.

“If you need me to help with community nursing…and either test or just help community nursing and get out and help the elderly, I’ll do that,” said Manresa.

“We realize that there are a lot of really specific circumstances that we’re going to need to be helping people with, so we’re going to need them to reach out and be patient with us as we get back to everybody,” said Sarmo.

She encouraged Manresa to reach out to the department to learn more about working in a volunteer capacity.

She said anyone with a specific inquiry could use this email address: Dpo@state.co.us

Sarmo also pointed people to this website, where they can input their health qualifications and offer to volunteer.

Medical professionals can also find information about malpractice rules and other guidelines on the state’s COVID-19 updates page or here.

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