NJ Officials Cut Through Red Tape To Let NY Nurses Treat Patients In NJ During Sandy

NEWARK – Huddled in their residences, without power or heat, a group of New York residents faced an even greater danger immediately following the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy – the facilities where they received kidney dialysis treatment were closed due to storm damage and no one knew when treatments could be resumed.

The cadre of nurses who specifically attended to these patients were licensed, but not in New Jersey, the closest area with operable dialysis equipment. And so the call came to the New Jersey Board of Nursing – could these nurses be allowed to work in New Jersey, and provide continuing care to the patients they had long attended to?

Licensure is an exacting process, designed to ensure trained nurses are qualified to provide care to the public. A battery of standardized tests and a review of courses attended are among the information that the Board of Nursing scrutinizes before it issues a license.

When the request from Fresenius Health Care came in, the Board immediately acted to see whether it could allow nurses licensed elsewhere into New Jersey, to treat their patients until the normal treatment facilities in New York again had power and were in an operable state.

“In a disaster, the natural inclination is to help your neighbor, and we’ve seen countless acts of kindness and compassion in the weeks since Hurricane Sandy,” said Eric T. Kanefsky, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “We wanted to accommodate these patients, and to do so quickly, since dialysis treatments are critical to maintaining their well-being.”

The Board confirmed that it has the authority to allow a nurse licensed in another state to treat a specific patient in New Jersey for a short-term period. Thus, the request from Fresenius Health Care was expedited and approved.

More than two dozen dialysis nurses came into New Jersey last month, caring for approximately 300 patients.

“Fresenius Medical Care appreciates the collaborative approach of the New Jersey Board of Nursing which helped expedite the care of our dialysis patients during this emergency,” said Athena Palearas, EdD, corporate vice president of education at Fresenius Medical Care.

The Board of Nursing is one of 45 professional licensing boards within the Division of Consumer Affairs. More than 600,000 individuals are licensed and regulated by these boards.

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