Tulare County Shifting Clinic Duties To Reduce Wait Times, Nursing Shortage
The Tulare County Board of Supervisors last week approved a plan that seeks to reduce patients' wait times and a nursing shortage at county clinics by creating a medical assistant position, which will assume some of the nurses' responsibilities, the Fresno Bee reports. The county plans to allow about 20 people currently working as health aides to become medical assistants. The county will provide a "refresher course" and train the aides on how to perform injections, the Bee reports.
Medical assistants will be responsible for drawing blood, giving injections and immunizations, changing bandages and giving breathing treatments, all of which were previously performed by registered or vocational nurses. The change in job description and new responsibilities will include a 10% to 15% pay increase for health aides. The county plans to eliminate health aide positions as they become medical assistants; however, no health aides will be laid off if they do not want to become medical assistants.
The county also will create three positions to help with patients' paperwork and billing and one position to train other employees in patient scheduling, registration, record keeping and computing. The plan will cost $122,000 initially. The county expects the changes to result in reduced wait times, a faster flow of patients and the need for fewer nurses in the clinics. Officials hope to cover the initial cost of the plan with increases in Medi-Cal reimbursements, which they expect to receive for increasing the number of treated patients in the clinics (Clough, Fresno Bee, 7/30).