When Hurricane Harvey made landfall, devastating our communities, the public health response of Texas agencies was swift. The Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Nursing, and other health care regulatory bodies enhanced relief efforts by mobilizing disaster medical care.
Physicians and nurses were called upon to help with disaster preparedness and with injuries and other public health concerns in the aftermath of the hurricane. Health care workers from all over the country joined Texas health care workers to provide emergency medical services to people in need.
The Texas Board of Nursing
In response to the Harvey emergency, the Texas Board of Nursing (BON) called upon out-of-state nurses to come help in the disaster areas. An out-of-state nurse may practice in Texas for the purpose of rendering aid in an emergency so long as the nurse holds a current license meeting the qualifications for nursing from their state. Tex. Gov. Code §418.171. The BON posted announcements on the BON website and Facebook page explaining its temporary licensure process for out-of-state nurses.
The responses from nurses were overwhelming! BON staff worked nights and weekends to approve applications for more than 600 nurses in the first week following Harvey’s landfall.
In the aftermath of Harvey, the BON approved temporary licenses for nearly 1,500 Registered Nurses, 92 Licensed Vocational Nurses, and 44 Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to work as volunteer nurses in Texas.
The Texas Medical Board
In its Hurricane Harvey response, the Texas Medical Board (TMB) issued expedited temporary permits for out-of-state physicians assisting with the Harvey emergency response. By relaxing its licensing rules for out-of-state providers, the TMB was able to quickly review and approve applications for out-of-state physicians. The temporary permits to practice medicine in Texas were valid for 30 days.
Also, to assist Texas doctors affected by or assisting with the response efforts, the TMB implemented a grace period for license renewals that were becoming due. The extension on license renewals were automatically extended. Physician and Physician Assistant licenses whose current licenses were set to expire on August 31, 2017 were extended through November 30, 2017. The TMB also waived Continuing Education requirements related to this renewal extension.
Harvey Relief Efforts
Agencies from across the state mobilized people to help with Harvey relief efforts. State regulatory bodies relaxed licensure rules and other regulations to empower health care providers to do the work that they do best―to save lives. The responses from doctors, nurses, and other health care providers in the wake of Harvey's devastation was nothing short of inspiring, and a true testament to the kindness of Americans.
Thank you to the thousands of volunteers who showed up to help Texans during and after Hurricane Harvey. We are moved and grateful for your dedication to help others in need.
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