Texas Board of Nursing Implements a Disaster Licensing Procedure
Nurses who want to help on site and do not have a Texas nursing license may apply for temporary licensure.The Texas Board of Nursing has taken steps to facilitate the process. Registered nurses and Licensed Vocational Nurses with multi-state compact licensure may practice in Texas without applying for a temporary license. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses may also apply to help. APRNs must fill out an application for RN licensure if they do not currently have a registered nurse multi state compact license. Application fees for the temporary disaster licenses are waived. For more information go to https://www.bon.texas.gov/hurricaneharvey.asp.The Texas Board of Nursing website lists agencies that nurses may contact regarding current emergency needs.
Red Cross is Recruiting Healthcare Volunteers
The American Red Cross needs a broad range of healthcare professionals to assist the victims of Hurricane Harvey. The Red Cross needs nurses, physicians, emergency personnel, and physician assistants. The Red Cross is also recruiting mental health professionals and counselors who have a minimum of a master’s degree. Retired mental health workers are welcome to apply.
Volunteering is Rewarding but Hard
Healthcare volunteers must be flexible. Shifts are long. Countless people are in crisis. Physical conditions are often severe. Training is required. The Red Cross requires a nine-day commitment. The organization pays transportation expenses. Housing is provided; however, it often consists of a cot in a shelter with group bathroom facilities.
How Health Care Providers Help Disaster Survivors
Registered Nurses serve as leaders in community health settings. Healthcare volunteers provide first-aid and referral services. Volunteers focus on enabling people to connect with family and community members. They assist with access to food, water, and medical necessities. Mental health professionals provide assessment, triage, and crisis intervention services. For more information about volunteering as a healthcare provider with the Red Cross, go to http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lp/hurricane-harvey-health-professionals
How to help the Hurricane Harvey Victims if you can’t go to Texas
There are many opportunities for healthcare providers to assist the hurricane victims from home, and the needs are going to be present for a long time. Here are some ways that you can help from home:
- Offer long distance emotional support if you have friends, colleagues, or family affected by the hurricane.
- Donate to a special interest group of your choice. For example, if you work with the geriatric population or infants you may want to work with agencies that are providing diapers and other personal hygiene supplies.
- Donate to organizations that assist victims with finding their pets or restoring natural environments
- Organize community drives in your community to raise funds or provide needed supplies to hurricane victims.
Healthcare Providers Plan for the Next Disaster
As healthcare providers, we understand suffering and the necessity of treating the whole person and community. Healing from Hurricane Harvey requires addressing emotional, aesthetic, physical, and spiritual needs.
Use this time to prepare for the next disaster. In Florida, we have an opportunity to sign up as a disaster volunteer each time we renew our nursing licenses. If your state does not provide you with this occasion, encourage your licensing body to adopt this procedure. Sign up now with disaster relief agencies. You will be ready to serve when the next catastrophe strikes.
Ready yourself for disaster should one hit your community in the future. Educate your patients about the necessity of emergency preparedness.
Hurricane Harvey: Health and Mental Health Volunteers Needed. (2017, August). Retrieved from Amercan Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/lp/hurricane-harvey-health-professionals
Texas Board of Nursing. (2017, August 30). Board of Nursing to Implement Disaster Licensing Procedure. Retrieved from Texas Board od Nursing: http://nursing.texas.gov/hurricaneharvey.asp