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State licensing fee gains support from two area hospitals

MORRIS – A new annual licensing fee to fund a system for reporting medical errors received support from hospitals in Morris and Joliet.

Last week, Gov. Pat Quinn signed legislation for an annual licensing fee for Illinois hospitals that takes effect this month. The fee will fund a system established by state law in 2005 for reporting medical errors. Hospitals in the state had been the only licensed health care organizations to not pay the fee.

The fee will raise about $1.7 million annually, with the state collecting $55 per hospital bed to fund a system for hospitals to report mistakes such as surgeries that are performed on the wrong body part, and the idea of improving patient safety by analyzing how errors occur, the Associated Press reported this week.

Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers supports the measure. Janet Long, the hospital’s public relations manager, said the licensing fee has the hospital’s fullest support because it improves quality and safety.

“It’s reasonable, and it’s a good initiative that looks like it will have an opportunity for learning on always making health care quality and safety even better,” she said.

Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Joliet was supportive of the fee. Spokeswoman Tabrina Davis wrote in an email the legislation will allow the state to fund and implement a wide range of safety and quality improvement initiatives that will help patients receive high quality care.

“Creating a mechanism that funded safety and quality initiatives is critical at a time of significant changes in the health care industry,” she wrote.

Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox declined to comment.

Portions of the funds will go toward new safety measures and addressing patient complaints, the Associated Press reported. Exempt from the fees are small rural hospitals and hospitals considered “safety-net hospitals” that treat mostly poor patients, the AP reported.

The Illinois Department of Public Health – which has just 17 hospital inspectors in the state – had pushed for years for this type of fee to pay for more official inquiries into complaints about hospital care, the AP reported.

“We fully support this law to help the department have the necessary resources to implement the law as part of an overall framework for quality improvement and patient safety initiatives,” Illinois Hospital Association spokesman Danny Chun told Crain’s Chicago Business.

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