Edward-Elmhurst to replace physicians with midlevel providers at immediate care sites

Due to budget constraints, Chicago-area health system Edward-Elmhurst Health reportedly plans to lay off 15 physicians from its immediate care clinics next year and replace them with nurse practitioners, sources told Becker's Hospital Review.

At what initially appeared to be a routine staff meeting on Nov. 19, physicians learned they would lose their jobs next March, according to a physician affected by the cuts. The physician spoke with Becker's on the condition of anonymity.

"This is what we are facing now — that physicians don't have job security, that cost is becoming more of a priority than patient care and safety," the physician said. The physician is part of an organization called Physicians for Patient Protection, which advocates for physician-led care.

After March 31, 2020, the health system's seven immediate care clinics will be staffed entirely by midlevel providers, according to the physician. "At first it was a little disappointing, and then you start worrying about patient safety. You think about all the unusual and complex patients that you've had, and then you wonder if someone with lesser training is going to pick up on some of the subtleties."

Nurse practitioners in Illinois are required to hold a registered nursing license in the state, complete a graduate nursing program, earn a national certification and apply for an advanced practice registered nurse license. Graduate nursing programs must provide a minimum of 500 hours of clinical care experience. This training allows NPs in Illinois to work in a "collaborative practice agreement" with physicians, which does not require the physician to be present. APRNs can apply for full practice authority in Illinois — meaning they can work independently of physicians — after completing at least 4,000 notarized hours of clinical practice under physician supervision.

Edward-Elmhurst Health's system director of public relations, Keith Hartenberger, provided the following statement regarding the decision:

"We continue to assess our care delivery models in the interest of providing cost-effective care to our patients. We shared with physicians that we have plans to change the model next year at some outpatient sites and are working with anyone affected to find alternative placement."

When asked to confirm the number of physicians affected, Mr. Hartenberger directed Becker's back to the previous statement.

Editor's note: This article was updated Dec. 3, 2019 at 11:10 a.m. CST to further clarify the requirements for nurse practitioners in Illinois.


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