PARK RIDGE, Ill. (AANA)—Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) and other advanced practice nurses in Pennsylvania are now able to practice to the full extent of their education and training. Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order May 6 to protect healthcare providers for “good-faith actions” taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re grateful to the administration for recognizing the value of CRNAs,” said Angelarosa G. DiDonato, DNP, CRNA, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Nurse Anesthetists (PANA). “CRNAs are uniquely qualified to care for critically ill patients who are suffering from respiratory distress during this pandemic. Patient health and safety is paramount, and we’re eager to put our skills to work to help.”
According to a May 6 news release from PANA, Pennsylvania regulations require physician supervision of a CRNA in a hospital setting. The governor’s waiver included in the executive order temporarily suspends that requirement, offering healthcare facilities increased flexibility in utilizing CRNAs.
“As frontline healthcare professionals, CRNAs play a crucial role in the state’s response to this pandemic, especially one related specifically to respiratory failures,” DiDonato said. “With our medical community facing unprecedented challenges, this waiver gives facilities the ability to fully utilize the unique skill set of CRNAs.”
In addition to providing top-of-the-line anesthesia care, throughout the pandemic CRNAs have been called upon to use their expertise in airway management, hemodynamic monitoring, management of patients on ventilators, and overall management of critically ill patients.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo removed physician supervision of CRNAs as he filed a state of emergency. Governors for Michigan, Maine, Louisiana, and West Virginia also removed physician supervision for CRNAs, and governors for Alabama, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Tennessee, have temporarily removed aspects of restrictive physician involvement to help increase access to care for patients. Connecticut and Kansas governors also took measures to suspend restrictive physician involvement in CRNA practice, and the governor of Oklahoma signed a bill into law that enable CRNAs to administer anesthesia in collaboration with rather than under the supervision of a physician.
Additional executive orders expand use of telehealth and eliminate restrictions for professionals to practice in states where they are not currently licensed to increase the healthcare workforce during the pandemic.
In addition to state activity, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has temporarily granted full practice authority for CRNAs.