The final days of the legislative session could see a key, but little known, pandemic guideline for health care be made permanent. This could have a big impact on patient care and access.
Nurse anesthetists played a key role during the COVID-19 pandemic, providing services on the frontlines of the crisis over the last year.
"Imagine being a nurse and a respiratory therapist all in one," said Yana Krmic, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and president of a statewide professional association. "Nurse anesthetist were critical on the frontlines of the pandemic. We have led intubation teams, we have switched our anesthesia machines into regular ventilators."
Nurse anesthetists want to make permanent a provision approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic that allowed them to administer anesthesia without the supervision of a physician or a surgeon. During the worst of the pandemic, Krmic says her profession provided needed support in the health care system.
New York is one of two states that have the supervision requirement in place. Lawmakers are considering the bill in the final weeks of the session. Supporters like Krmic contend the measure will expand access to health care for patients, especially in rural areas.
"In some states CRNAs are the sole providers in nearly 100% of rural hospitals," she said. "So this will allow us to provide care for a patient population that is rapidly growing."
And the measure is being considered as hospitals are already facing steep financial challenges as the COVID case load eases. Krmic says the bill woud ease budgetary pressure for health care networks.
"It is a strain on an already angry and drained health care system after the pandemic," she said.