Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker says that more than 1,100 individuals have applied for temporary medical practice permits to help deal with COVID-19, but more work is left to be done to adequately staff the temporary medical facilities being built around the state.
One of those facilities, Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, will ultimately be outfitted with 3,000 beds to help with an anticipated surge in coronavirus patients in the weeks and months ahead.
When asked about potential staffing issues of the facility, Pritzker did not mince words.
“There are not enough healthcare workers in the workforce today,” he said. “If you have the capability….we need you.”
This week, up to 500 beds will be put into place at McCormick Place, designed to temporarily house patients who require hospitalization due to COVID-19. Pritzker says the state likely has enough staffing for those beds, but is looking to keep boosting numbers as more beds are put into place.
For every 500 beds at McCormick Place and other alternate care sites, the state of Illinois is looking for:
-10 physicians or nurse practitioners
-10 Physician Assistants
-35 Registered Nurses
-35 CAN’s or LPN’s
While Pritzker says the state hasn’t located enough staff for when the facility fully ramps up, they are in the process of locating more workers to help.
“There are companies out there that have health care professionals that are contract with them, and they actually contract groups of professionals to organizations in normal times,” he said. “We’ve done some contracting with them in order to start staffing what we need at McCormick Place.”
Another strategy employed by the governor’s office has been to issue temporary practice permits to recently retired professionals, or those professionals who have let their licenses lapse due to moving out of state or due to changing life circumstances. As of Wednesday, 1,160 individuals have applied for the permits, which will last through Sept. 2020 and will allow them to assist during the coronavirus pandemic.
The state is also working to attract medical professionals who work in other states to come back to Illinois to help with the pandemic. James McJunkin, a registered nurse who most recently worked in California, is not licensed in Illinois, but is one of the hundreds looking to help in the state’s time of need.
“I’ve been working as a registered nurse in the emergency department since 2013, and I’ve always been prepared mentally for something like this happening,” he said.
Anyone interested in lending a hand to medical facilities in the state during the COVID-19 pandemic is encouraged to visit IllinoisHelps.net for more information.