SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – Illinois health care professionals are calling for system upgrades as they experience licensing delays from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
Bridget Makol is a new clinical psychologist working with children with neurodevelopmental conditions. She was in school for years earning her PhD.
“They do one year clinical training after their PhD, it’s called a postdoctoral fellowship, then jobs start when that finishes,” Makol said.
All she needed to do next was apply for her license, but getting it wasn’t an easy process.
Makol had to submit a paper application to the IDFPR, the agency in charge of licenses for millions of people in the state.
“You spend all those years doing all of these requirements, making almost no money and then you have this bureaucratic thing getting in the way, where you’re like, ‘I have done everything, how much more do I have to go through to just, practice as a psychologist,’” Makol said.
The department received Makol’s application in June, but she waited almost three months for her license to come. In the meantime, she didn’t get a lot of answers from the agency about the status of her application.
“I had people say, ‘It could be lost, it could be at the bottom of the pile,’” Makol said. “I put tickets in, every time I call they said ‘We will get back to you in five to seven business days.’”
Makol isn’t alone. Others across the state have been dealing with delays in getting new licenses or renewing them from the IDFPR including doctors, nurses and dentists.
“We’ve heard from so many people who apply, and then never hear back about the status of their application,” State Rep. Bob Morgan, (D-Deerfield), the chair of the House Health Care Licensing Committee, said. “These are totally unacceptable answers from the department that we need to address and we need to address it quickly.”
IDFPR has cited their outdated IT system for the challenges.
“The system itself is from the last century, it is literally from the 1990s, and the results speak for themselves,” Mario Treto Jr., Secretary of the IDFPR, said in a hearing in front of lawmakers Wednesday. “The only way for this crisis to be solved is for IDFPR to obtain the necessary approval to put in place a new state of the art system needed to just serve our state, deliver for our constituents and put this behind us once and for all.”
Lawmakers set aside $10 million for the IDFPR to upgrade its system. Still, during that same hearing, health leaders warned about the impact these delays will have on health care service for patients.
“On top of that, delays and outdated licensing processes potentially drive highly skilled medical professionals to other states, further jeopardizing access to care particularly in rural and underserved areas,” Timothy Kinsey, President Elect of the Illinois Academy of Physician Assistants, said.
The delays in licensing also means patients may have to wait to get the care they need. Makol said she has a two year waitlist for people to have access to her services.
“It’s incredibly frustrating,” Makol said. “When that family is in front of you, you just feel like you have so little power to fix these things. You’re doing the best you can, you’re seeing as many patients as you can as quickly as you can. Even if I saw five times the number of patients I saw a week, honestly, the waitlist would still be too long.”
Morgan said this issue will take some time to resolve.
“It might take a number of different solutions to do so, and whatever it takes, we’re going to work to get it done, and we’re going to expect that the department steps up and does the same,” Morgan said.