Update on Implementation of Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner (RCW 70.15)

Update on Implementation of Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner (RCW 70.15)

Thank you for your questions and patience as we implement the Emergency Volunteer Health Practitioner (RCW 70.15) program. Since the Legislature passed RCW 70.15 in 2018, the COVID-19 pandemic is the first time this program has been implemented.

A number of updates have been made to the department’s website about the program. A few highlights of these updates include:

  1. Individual health care provider applicants now register online, instead of using a paper application. This decreased the processing time. Instructions to complete the online registration are available on our website.  
  2. New information for Healthcare facilities:
    • Healthcare facilities who want to request approved volunteers, or want to request to activate specific staff under this program as part of their own surge planning, need to complete a healthcare facilities request form. This information is necessary to help us be able to quickly support each request. We currently have more than 700 approved volunteers who are eligible to be placed.
    • Facilities requesting to activate specific volunteers should complete this spreadsheet. Please be sure all fields are complete, they are all required to complete the process. Please do not include any additional fields beyond information on additional licenses a volunteer has.
  3. The frequently asked questions (FAQ) have also been updated and divided into questions for volunteers and questions for healthcare facilities.

We have received questions about the Department of Health’s authority under RCW 70.15.030 to regulate coordination of volunteers and how that intersects with facility and health system surge staffing. The Department has broad authority for volunteers activated under this program that includes where they work, for how long, and what types of providers may volunteer. The benefits to all are that state provides worker’s compensation coverage to the registered volunteer health care providers and those health care providers are provided immunity from liability while acting as part of the State’s emergency response (except for willful and wanton misconduct or gross negligence). Volunteer health care providers can decline an assignment.

We want to be clear that the department’s current priority is supporting health systems and facilities with their own staffing surge plans. Health systems or facilities can make a request to have approved volunteers activated for their specific needs. We are also working to support requests for healthcare facilities that need volunteers to ensure adequate staffing.

Thank you again for your leadership and support as we work together to support residents in Washington during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Questions? Contact:

Laura Hofmann, MSN, RN
Director of Clinical and Nursing Facility Regulatory Services

LeadingAge Washington
c: 360-691-9281