Bill Will Improve Disaster Response through Interstate Cooperation
January 23, 2014- Hanson Quickel
HARRISBURG- When a major snowstorm or other natural disaster
strikes, Pennsylvania will have a streamlined system for accepting help from
neighboring states under a bill introduced by Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20).
legislation, Senate Bill 1235, will allow doctors, veterinarians and other
health care workers to provide immediate emergency health care to victims of a
declared disaster by creating a Volunteer Health Practitioner Registry System.
Katrina demonstrated the red tape that doctors, counselors, and funeral
directors had to endure in order to help those in need,” Baker said. “We have
learned from that tragic experience, which claimed the lives of 1,836 people,
and are acting to ensure that Pennsylvanians have immediate access to health
care during the most critical times.”
Katrina hit New Orleans, many states enacted legislation similar to Baker’s, to
allow health care professionals to enter states that have suffered a declared
disaster and provide services without having to scale a host of legal and
licensing hurdles. During and after many major crises, licensure boards
have been overwhelmed with requests or have closed temporarily because of the
the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioners Act (UEVHPA), the
Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA)
would be able to regulate the length of time and the geographic area in which
volunteer emergency health practitioners can serve. To ensure quality
care, the health practitioners would have to be licensed and in good standing
in their home state.
language was developed by the Uniform Law Commission and has been adopted in 14
states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The bill is endorsed by numerous
health, legal and emergency response organizations, including the American Red
Cross, the ASPCA, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the
United Way of America.
failure to plan has frequently made a big disaster even bigger,” Baker
said. “This bill is designed to prepare for the worst by paving the way
for the best doctors and nurses to come in to help, and will better position
Pennsylvania to receive aid should a major tragedy overwhelm our resources.”