Pennsylvania is acting to reinforce the ranks of frontline health care workers and to initiate an emergency food distribution program for those affected by statewide covid-19 restrictions.
In recent days, the state has streamlined the process for retired doctors, nurses, medical students, pharmacists, and other healthcare workers, allowed out-of-state practitioners to practice in Pennsylvania, expanded telemedicine, and launched a portal to purchase supplies.
“All of these steps are about saving lives and giving our health care system time to prepare for the expected increase in patients,” said Gov. Wolf. “I commend all of the health care workers across our state for your dedication to serving and caring for others at this unprecedented time.”
The Department of State has announced a series of temporary licensing waivers for health care professionals and others during the COVID-19 disaster declaration, including:
Health Care Professionals
- Streamlining the reactivation of licenses for retired Medical Doctors, Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine, Physician Assistants, Respiratory Therapists, Perfusionists, Registered Nurses, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners and Pharmacists to return to their field, and 119 applications have been received in the past three weeks.
- Allowing licensed health care practitioners to provide services via telemedicine.
- Allowing doctors with institutional licenses to practice at more than 2 facilities.
- Encouraged the use of telemedicine access for opioid use disorder Centers of Excellence patients.
- Allowing more than 14,000 Certified Registered Nurse Practitioners to assist in the COVID-19 response by lifting the requirement that they practice within a specialty.
- Extending license deadlines, temporary nursing permits and graduate permits.
- Allowing certain nursing school graduates to apply for an immediate graduate permit.
- Allowing out-of-state pharmacies to ship goods to Pennsylvania.
- Allowing temporary expedited licensure for certain pharmacy practitioners and pharmacies.
The Department of State has a dedicated webpage with information about all of the temporary licensing waivers.
To further bolster the health care system, Gov. Wolf on Friday signed legislation yesterday to spend up to $50 million to purchase medical equipment and supplies — such as beds, ventilators and personal protective equipment — for hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency workers.
In another significant move to address the covid-19 crisis, Wolf Administration late Friday received USDA approval for an emergency food distribution plan.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture will operate a Disaster Household Distribution program through the Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) to provide critical food supplies to Pennsylvanians adversely affected as a result of statewide covid-19 mitigation efforts.
“Hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians have applied for unemployment compensation after just two weeks of covid-19 mitigation efforts,” Wolf said. “I’m incredibly grateful for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acknowledgement of our need to feed Pennsylvania. This waiver lifts a weight off the shoulders of our food banks and families across the commonwealth.”
Gov. Wolf on Thursday sent USDA Secretary Perdue a letter urging him to approve the department’s waiver application that would allow more food to be distributed at hundreds of locations across the state, while temporarily waiving the need to verify household eligibility.
Late Friday, the department received approval to use USDA Foods as part of a Disaster Household Distribution program being operated through the state’s network of food banks, food pantries, and pop-up distribution sites. The approval allows the department and its partners to more efficiently distribute a variety of foods – including meats, vegetables, fruit, canned goods, cereal, rice, pasta, eggs, and more – to those most affected by the closure of non-life sustaining businesses in Pennsylvania.