KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly issued a 15-day disaster declaration Thursday to assist health care workers and hospitals amid a COVID-19 surge in the state.
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The declaration includes two executive orders which suspend certain state statutes and regulations among adult care homes and some health care providers.
“Just as I did at the start of the pandemic, today I am again issuing orders to provide our hospitals and nursing homes with the necessary staffing flexibility to keep the residents, patients, and staff safe,” Kelly said in a statement.
Both executive orders expand services that certain health care workers can provide.
Among other things, executive order 22-01 allows advanced practice nurses to provide care without a written collaborative agreement and protocols with doctors.
This makes way for the practice nurses to conduct COVID-19 testing and assist in other medical procedures.
It also allows other health care workers, like pharmacists, to assist in health maintenance based on their experience.
Licensed nurses can also provide additional medical services as their training allows.
Medical students, licensed and registered health care professionals will also be allowed to volunteer with COVID-19 assistance in areas where they're trained.
When asked during a press conference Thursday whether she was concerned about the quality of patient care declining without higher-level medical personnel, Kelly was confident this is the best step for patients.
"Right now we have an issue because of a staffing shortage," Kelly said. "So is it ideal? No. But it is better than what is currently going on with people not getting treated. ... We have got to use whatever tools are at our disposal to alleviate that shortage."
The second executive order focuses on aiding nursing homes.
It extends the deadline for occupational or professional license, certificate or registration issued by the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services (KDADS).
KDADS can also issue temporary licenses, certificates or registration to those previously granted so long as they're in good standing.
Temporary aide authorization can also be granted for people who receive minimum training met under the standards of KDADS.
“This disaster declaration provides a 15-day solution to give our front-line health care workers the support they need as they battle this COVID-19 surge," Kelly continued in her statement.
On Wednesday, 18 chief medical officers from both Kansas and Missouri urged state officials to provide additional assistance.
Kelly said that based on that guidance, it was "very, very important" to announce this declaration Thursday.
"That's what we heard from our hospital leaders, is that we needed to do this, and we needed to do this as soon as we possibly could to alleviate the shortage," Kelly said.