DENVER (CBS4)– Colorado could become the first state in the country to have a “Health Service Corps,” a volunteer army of health care workers who could be deployed on a moment’s notice.

(credit: UCHealth)

Colorado could become the first state in the country to have a “Health Service Corps”, a volunteer army of health care workers who could be deployed on a moment’s notice.

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“The dream would be that we would have a group, like the National Guard, so right now we’re calling it the National Health Service Corps; doctors, nurses, other health care professionals would be cross training, learning how to take care of different kinds of casualties, different kinds of issues, different populations,” says Rep. Yadira Caraveo, a pediatrician who is sponsoring a bill to create the Health Service Corps.

She says, because COVID-19 targeted older people not kids, she’s seen a decrease, not increase, in patients.

Meanwhile, Representative Kyle Mullica, an emergency room nurse has barely had a break.

Mullica, who is co-sponsoring the bill, says he thought he’d seen it all until last March, “I’d never seen the fear that I saw in my colleagues’ eyes.”

(credit: CBS)

Ten months later, he sees exhaustion, depression, suffering and stress, “I think there’s a real fear of a mass exodus.”

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While he’s seeing burnout, Caraveo is seeing layoffs. She’s among those who was furloughed and helpless as those like Mullica were overwhelmed.

“Knowing that if I happened to be taking care of an intubated child, then I could jump in and help but taking care of an intubated adult is something that I’ve never done so I couldn’t really just jump in and help them,” said Caraveo.

As they shared their frustrations, Caraveo and Mullica, who grew-up in the same community and started at the state Legislature at the same time, came up with the idea of cross-training underworked medical professionals to help the overworked.

“They have the degree, they have that skill set, they can get there, but they’re not running a ventilator every day like an ICU nurse may be, but they can get that training. We can have all the beds that we want, we have a lot of hospital beds in Colorado, doesn’t matter how many beds you have, can you staff those beds? We want see Colorado take the forefront on this, we want to see Colorado be prepared, we don’t want us to be reliant on anyone else.”

(credit: iStock/Getty Images)

Caraveo and Mullica envision the Health Service Corps responding, not just in a pandemic, but any kind of emergency where there are mass casualties or widespread infections.

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Because there is nothing like it in the country, they admit, there are a lot of details to work out including who oversees the corps, provides ongoing training, and pays for that training. Their bill would set-up a task force to figure out how to make the dream a reality.

Shaun Boyd