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State cuts red tape for retired doctors, nurses who want to rejoin front lines to fight coronavirus

The regulatory changes come two days after Pritzker issued a “call to action” for retired doctors and nurses to come back to work to assist with a potential flood of patients coming into hospitals thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

Medical personnel at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, conduct drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Park Ridge on Thursday.
Medical personnel at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital, conduct drive-thru COVID-19 testing in Park Ridge on Thursday.
Nam Y. Huh/AP

Following direction from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, state officials announced Monday that they are allowing healthcare workers with expired licenses to temporarily restore them to provide more doctors and nurses to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

The rule changes will allow physicians, nurses and other healthcare workers with licenses that have recently expired to reapply without having to navigate the normal bureaucratic hurdles to do so.

”The State of Illinois has many very qualified health care professionals throughout the State that we are encouraging to come back into practice to assist with the impact of COVID-19,” Deborah Hagan, secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, said in a statement.

The regulatory changes come two days after Pritzker issued a “call to action” for retired doctors and nurses to come back to work to assist with a potential flood of patients coming into hospitals thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’re in the middle of a battle and we need reinforcements,” Pritzker said Saturday.

Doctors and physician assistants who have inactive or an expired license for less than three years can return to work without paying the usual fee or fulfilling education requirements. Nurses and respiratory care therapists who have an inactive or an expired license of less than five years can also apply to have their licenses immediately reinstated without a fee or completing the educational requirements.

Out-of-state doctors, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory care therapists and physician assistants can also apply to be immediately allowed to practice in Illinois through Hagan’s department.

In an attempt to “flatten the curve” to make sure hospitals in Illinois don’t become overwhelmed with patients, Pritzker issued a “stay-at-home” order, calling on Illinois residents to only leave their homes for “essential activities.”

On Monday, Pritzker called for tattoo parlors and nail salons to donate any personal protective equipment they may have, such as gloves and face masks to the state, as hospitals face a potential shortage of critical healthcare supplies.

Healthcare workers cab apply for temporary reinstatement until Sept. 30.