LANSING — The House Health Policy Committee unanimously approved state Rep. Henry Yanez’ (D-Sterling Heights) House Bill 4528 today. The bill would expand the Health Professional Recovery Program to emergency medical professionals. The program is a non-disciplinary, treatment-oriented program for health professionals dealing with mental illness or substance abuse.

“Emergency Medical Professionals make life and death decisions every day in an often unpredictable and chaotic work environment,” said Yanez. “As a former fire fighter and EMT, I know how stressful the job is. It is not uncommon for EMPs to develop mental health and substance abuse issues. It is important that those who help us, get the help they need.”

The Health Professional Recovery Program was established in 1994 for health professionals affected by mental illness or substance abuse. The program provides for rehabilitation services as well as continuing care or aftercare. Currently, health professionals in 24 licensed occupations including massage therapists, nutritionists and acupuncturists are eligible for the program. 

House Bill 4528 will make emergency medical services personnel eligible for the program. In order to be eligible, an individual must acknowledge their impairment, withdraw from or limit the scope of their professional duties, and agree to participate in a treatment plan that meets the criteria established by the health professional recovery committee.

A 2014 study done by the National Institute of Health found that emergency health care workers are at an increased risk for PTSD, depression and substance abuse due to the difficult nature of their work. Today, substance abuse, especially opioid abuse, is on the rise in Macomb County as well as throughout Michigan.

“This is a program designed not to punish, but to help health care professionals get control of their lives again,” said Yanez.  “Getting the EMPs the assistance they need will help ensure that they can continue working safely to address the healthcare needs of our community. I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make this bill law.”