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Relief for health care workers on the way – but how soon?

Starting July 1, a new class of health care workers will be able to take on more and relieve overworked medical providers.

Some people are asking – why wait?

From burnout to self-quarantine mandates to catching COVID-19, Florida’s health care workers are being stretched thin.

But Erica Smith, a senior attorney with the Institute for Justice, said there’s an easy fix.

“Nurse practitioners want to help now, they want to volunteer now – and they’re getting caught in red tape,” she said.

A new law that goes into effect on July 1 will no longer require nurse practitioners to work under the supervision of a physician.

Until then, “…You have to go and find a new supervisor, physicians are busy right now – they can’t be supervising new people. These agreements are sometimes tens of thousands of dollars to get,” Smith said.

The Institute of Justice is asking Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office to immediately allow nurse practitioners to work without that supervision. That way, nurse practitioners with acute care specializations could help with COVID-19 patients now.

“Why not let the law go into effect now? The governor has that power. Other states are doing it, let’s get moving.”

Local experts say nurse practitioners have the skills to meet the need.

“I think one of their biggest things would be to triage, just like typically physicians do now, and deciding the next step for the patient,” said Dr. Paula Tropello, dean of the School of Health Professions at Florida SouthWestern State College.

“Nurse practitioners have been educated to assess, diagnose, interpret lab results, and treat patients,” said Dr. Loureen Downes, associate professor at the School of Nursing at Florida Gulf Coast University.

While a few more months doesn’t seem like a long time to wait, the extra help would be appreciated.

“I think to have help is essential because the docs are burned out – they have to be. In the ERs, the ICUs – as is the rest of the staff,” Tropello said.

WINK News reached out to the governor’s office for his response to the Institute for Justice’s letter. We have not heard back.

Reporter:Veronica Marshall
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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