End of COVID-19 Emergency Orders and State of Emergency by October 31

On Sept. 8, Gov. Jay Inslee announced the upcoming rescission of all remaining COVID-19 emergency proclamations and state of emergency by Oct. 31.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How long is the WHPS contract?

The length of a monitoring contract usually ranges from three to five years but will depend upon the severity of the substance use disorder, and length of abstinence-recovery. Unfortunately, in many cases the nurse has developed a severe substance use disorder before self-reporting or being referred to WHPS. In these cases five years of supportive monitoring has shown to produce the best long-term outcomes.

I’ve already completed treatment for my substance use problem. Why do I need to enter WHPS?

All cases are reviewed individually to determine if a nurse is suitable for enrollment in WHPS. The length of a monitoring contract usually ranges from three to five years but will depend upon the severity of the substance use disorder, and length of abstinence-recovery. In most cases, if a nurse can document five or more years of continuous abstinence-recovery, a WHPS monitoring contract will not be recommended.

Is participation in WHPS confidential?

Yes. WHPS records are not subject to the normal public disclosure requirements of most state records. No information regarding participants may be disclosed without the participant’s written authorization. Authorized disclosures are generally limited to verification of participation in the program and overall compliance.

How will participation in WHPS affect my healthcare credential?

It depends upon the circumstances of the individual participant. In general, if a participant enters the program through a voluntary self-referral and no legal or investigative action has or will be taken regarding their credential—the participant’s credential will be unaffected. In cases where an administrative legal order has been issued regarding a credential, this is a matter of public record. In such cases, a participant’s credential may be listed as “On Probation” or “Under Conditions” pending successful completion of WHPS.

Is "participation" in WHPS voluntary?

Yes. Even in cases where a legal order has been issued regarding a participant’s credential, it is in the form of an “agreed order” that the participant has signed agreeing to be evaluated for a monitoring contract through WHPS—either in lieu of discipline, or as a condition of issuing or reissuing a credential.

Do I need to inform my employer of my participation in WHPS?

Yes. The primary goal of WHPS is to ensure safe practice. Therefore, monitoring of a nurse’s ability to practice with reasonable skill and safety is required via worksite monitoring through employers.

Will there be restrictions placed on my practice?

When first enrolled in WHPS most nurses have a set of practice restrictions designed to support recovery and patient protection. Restriction may be lifted over time and most nurses do not have any restrictions during their last year of participation. Common restrictions include:

  • No home health or contract service work
  • No night shift work
  • Limited to a single employer
  • Limits on overtime and on-call work
  • No access to schedule medications for 6-12 months (except of alcohol and cannabis use disorder)
What does monitoring include?

Monitoring generally includes, but is not limited to:

  • Referral for third-party clinical evaluation and recommendations for treatment
  • Development of an individualized monitoring contract
  • Structured return to practice plan (incl. employer notification and worksite monitoring)
  • Random drug testing
  • Medication monitoring
  • Peer support group attendance
  • Routine report submission by the nurse, employer, treatment providers, and prescribers.

Monitoring allows the nurse to document recovery and safety to practice.

What medications are acceptable for me to take?

WHPS uses the Talbot Medication Guide to determine whether a medication is appropriate to take. Class A and B medications and potentially impairing over-the counter medications (i.e., medications containing alcohol or dextromethorphan) are not permitted without the approval of the WHPS medical director.

What happens if I slip-up or relapse while in WHPS?

Relapse usually results in temporary removal from practice and referral for a substance use evaluation to determine appropriate modifications to the participant’s treatment/recovery plan. Monitoring requirements may be modified (i.e., increased drug testing, contract extension) as appropriate.

In some cases, it may be determined by a nursing commission panel that the nurse is no longer suitable for monitoring and a referral for disciplinary action will be made.

May I be readmitted to WHPS following an unsuccessful termination?

Following unsuccessful termination from WHPS, a nurse may reapply in accordance with the requirements of the nurse’s Agreed Order.

How much does participation in WHPS cost?

There are no fees for participation in WHPS. However, nurses are responsible for all costs associated with WHPS participation not covered by third-party payers (i.e., insurance). Nurses are required to pay out-of-pocket for drug tests and, if required, for participation in a weekly peer support group (PSG). Routine drug tests cost from $45 to $65 along with a “collection fee” that may exceed $25. Nurses can expect at least 14 to 24 drug tests per year. Weekly PSGs are about $25 per week, but all PSG facilitators use a sliding fee scale and charge based upon a nurse’s income. We advise prospective participants to plan on budgeting at least $200 dollars/mo.

How do I get started?

Contact WHPS at 360-236-2880 (Option 1) or email us for more information at  whps@doh.wa.gov