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DeSantis signs measure allowing CNAs to become qualified med aides at nursing homes

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Wladimir Bulgar

The law allows qualified CNAs to administer “routine” medications to residents, freeing up registered nurses to provide other needed care.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed 11 bills, including a measure that allows certified nursing assistants in nursing homes to become trained as “qualified medication aides.”

The aides could then administer “routine” medications to residents, freeing up registered nurses to provide other needed care. The aides could also perform tasks such as checking blood glucose levels.

The aids would be limited to administering oral, transdermal, ophthalmic, otic, inhaled or topical prescription medication. They must also be supervised by a nurse when doing so.

Certified nursing assistants seeking to qualify would need to get specified training and must have worked as a CNA for at least a year.

A nursing home won’t be able to count qualified medical aid hours toward required staffing ratios. CNAs must provide a minimum of two hours of direct care per resident per day, and a weekly average of 3.6 hours of direct care per patient per day.

Friday’s signings included three other health care-related bills.

One allows the Lee Memorial Health System to develop a process to convert to a nonprofit entity. It also eliminates reporting audits and budgets with the county clerk of court and allows the hospital to purchase of real estate subject to mortgages.

The governor also signed a bill aimed at supporting first responders’ mental health and preventing suicide. The law permits diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders via telehealth for the purposes of obtaining worker’s comp benefits.

The law also renames the Commission on Mental Health and Substance Abuse as the Commission on Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder, still under the Department of Children & Families. The law also calls for this commission to assess the state’s suicide prevention infrastructure.

Another measure focuses on exemptions to law to allow providers to refer patients to health service providers in which the provider has a financial interest, and the services must be provided under direct supervision of the referring provider or practice.

The laws go into effect July 1.

I’m the online producer for Health News Florida, a collaboration of public radio stations and NPR that delivers news about health care issues.