Two Wisconsin emergency orders suspend rules to ensure health care staffing, patient care

Coronavirus

An emergency room nurse dons her face protectors after taking a break in a driveway for ambulances and emergency medical services vehicles outside Brooklyn Hospital Center’s emergency room, in New York on Sunday. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers and Secretary-designee Andrea Palm have issued two emergency orders suspending some administrative rules for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to help maximize the state’s health care workforce while ensuring patients continue to get the care they need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Governor Evers also issued an executive order suspending the April 7 election and moving it to June 9.

“These are very difficult times, especially for our healthcare facilities and our healthcare consumers across our state,” said Governor Tony Evers. “By suspending these regulations, we’re recognizing the challenges our healthcare workers and facilities are experiencing and helping to ensure they can continue their important work serving our families, our neighbors, and our communities.”

Emergency Order #21 allows health care facilities, providers, and emergency medical services flexibility to address staffing needs, yet still provide needed care. The order adjusts training and license renewal deadlines, as well as paramedic-level ambulance staffing levels for emergency medical services. It suspends staff orientations at home health agencies and hospices, adjusts nurse aide training hours, relaxes criteria for resident care staff at community-based residential facilities and adult family homes, and ensures nursing homes cannot discharge patients who are unable to pay. The order also modifies requirements at opiate addiction treatment services so staff can continue to be responsive and accessible.

“This order reduces regulatory burdens on facilities and emergency services and allows them to meet the critical needs of their residents and patients during this public health emergency,” said Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We are all in this together, and this order provides the flexibility needed to ensure that we get through this together.”

Governor Evers and Secretary-designee Palm also issued Emergency Order #20, which expands Emergency Order #16 issued on March 27. It allows health care provider licenses that would have expired during the public health emergency to remain valid until 30 days after the emergency is over. It also gives providers who are licensed in other states but assisting here additional time to apply for a Wisconsin license, and gives facilities where those providers are working additional time to notify the state.

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