Nurse-Led Disaster Response Model Aligns Red Cross With IOM Goals


The American Red Cross has announced a new nurse-led disaster health services community response model is being put into place to help improve health services delivered to survivors of disasters.

The new nurse-led disaster health services community response model ensures the nearly 5,000 Red Cross nurses have the practice flexibility they need to meet the health needs of disaster survivors. Under the new model, Red Cross nurses who provide disaster health services community response can act within their scope of practice and in accordance with their license, assessing and intervening as they have been prepared to do by their schooling and experiences.

Accordingly, the new model means Red Cross nursing is now more closely aligned with recommendations made in the Institute of Medicine report, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. IOMs findings have spurred the launch of a nationwide initiative to outline strategies for how our healthcare system should most effectively utilize nurses, and Red Cross nurses aim to be part of that effort, officials say.

“A strong cadre of nurses is a must for the American Red Cross,” says Gail McGovern, Red Cross president and CEO.

While the IOM was gathering information for its groundbreaking report, the Red Cross was working to remove scope-of-practice barriers, adds McGovern, who authorized the rollout of a nurse-led model in November 2010, or 1 month after the IOM recommended nurses be allowed to practice to the full extent of their education and training.

“Within the chaos that can occur during a disaster, no amount of written material can address every health situation that may arise,” says Sharon Stanley, PhD, RN, RS, chief nurse of the Red Cross. “The nurse-led disaster health services community response model allows the Red Cross health team to provide the best in care while partnering with community healthcare systems on the ground to better address disaster client needs.”

In addition to providing direct health services during disasters, American Red Cross nurses teach nurse-assistant training and caregiver courses, and work in military hospitals and clinics. Nurses also serve as Red Cross managers and members of governing bodies, as well as serving as liaisons throughout the global healthcare system.


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