Spectrum Health eliminating Urgent Care RNs

Posted at 4:31 PM, Sep 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-16 14:58:39-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Spectrum Health urgent care patients will no longer be examined and treated by registered nurses.

The change may come as a shock to some, but another Grand Rapids health care provider says it's a trend as facilities state-wide look to cut costs. Spectrum is replacing the RNs with medical assistants.

While both Metro and Mercy Health continue to use RNs in urgent care, Spectrum isn't alone in relying on medical assistants to help patients.

"Medical assistants are definitely lower cost to the organizations to hire versus registered nurses," said Katie Plaska, an office manager at American Family Care, another urgent care facility that uses assistants rather than RNs.

It's the reason Spectrum is changing staffing in its urgent care department.

In a statement, Spectrum Health says:

"As best practices evolve within our industry, we adjust our staffing models," a statement from Spectrum reads. "During our regular evaluation of best practices, which included review of national standards, Spectrum Health changed our staffing model at our Grand Rapids-based urgent care locations. Our model does not require RNs in addition to providers at these sites."

Plaska admits that while the jobs are similar, the pay scale and schooling are different.

"Urgent cares are now going toward a more medical assistant kind of standard of care just because medical assistants can do a lot of the same things that registered nurses can do with the exception of IV administration," said Plaska.

It's unclear when the change will take effect at Spectrum.  They are encouraging the nurses affected to apply for other positions within Spectrum Health System.