Volunteer nurses flown to the Gulf Region in anticipation of Hurricane Isaac will face unnecessary setbacks in the delivery of care because of Mississippi’s inability to pass the Uniform Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner Act (UEVHPA), which died this year in the state legislature.
The uniform law, which has been adopted by Louisiana and 12 other states, was introduced by the Uniform Law Commission in 2007 to address gaps in service in the wake of Hurricane Katrina by granting temporary emergency licenses for responding volunteer emergency practitioners. The uniform law includes scope of practice standards during a state of emergency, recognition of out-of-state licenses during an emergency, civil liability protection and worker compensation benefits. It has been endorsed by the American Nurses Association, American Red Cross, National Association of State EMS Officials and several related organizations on the national and state level.
Mississippi has not acted in the past five years to pass this necessary act of legislation. This year, H.B. 467 was introduced by State Rep. Bobby Moak (D-53), but died in the Public Health and Human Services Committee earlier this spring.
As nurses are deployed from across the country to assist in the Hurricane Isaac response, Mississippi’s inaction has failed its residents, out-of-state nurses traveling to the region from across the U.S. and donors who gave to organizations like the American Red Cross with expectations that their money would help those in greatest need.