Posted Online: Jan. 30, 2013, 1:31 pm

Letter: Illinois must fully staff this key regulatory agency

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What if you were transported to a local hospital Emergency Department and there was no licensed physician available to provide care? Well, it could happen in Illinois later this year.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation licenses physicians, nurses and pharmacists, among other professionals. DFPR recently announced that it can no longer process physician license and renewal license applications in a timely manner due to a budget shortfall in its medical unit. As a result, DFPR has reduced staffing from 26 to eight and now has only one person available to process hundreds of physician license and renewal applications

Capable, experienced physicians could wait a year or more for a license or a license renewal. And without a license, it is illegal for them to practice medicine. Meanwhile, Illinois residents with serious, often life-threatening illnesses and injuries may go without the medical care they need.

Perhaps even more alarming, DFPR also will be limited in its ability to investigate suspected physician misconduct, putting Illinois patients at additional risk.

Illinois residents can't wait months for the care of a licensed physician. So, this is an issue that requires immediate and decisive action.

On behalf of our Illinois physicians and the thousands of patients in their care, Genesis Health System urges Gov. Pat Quinn and the General Assembly to ensure a fully staffed Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, fully responsive to the needs of the people of Illinois.

Douglas P. Cropper,
president and CEO,
Genesis Health System