April 2, 2020
Yesterday the Governor’s Office issued an Executive Order directing certain healthcare facilities (including hospitals), healthcare workers (including those licensed or certified), and volunteers (including unlicensed medical and nursing students) to “render assistance” in support of the state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak and grants immunity from civil liability to those who do. The broad immunity covers any injury or death alleged to have been caused by any act or omission that occurs in the course of “rendering assistance” to the state unless the injury or death is caused by willful misconduct.
In order for these protections to apply to a covered healthcare facility, “rendering assistance” must include cancelling or postponing elective surgeries and procedures, increasing the number of beds, preserving personal protective equipment, or taking necessary steps to prepare to treat patients with COVID-19. For covered healthcare workers and volunteers, each must be working at a covered healthcare facility or under the direction of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency or Illinois Department of Public Health providing healthcare services or services, assistance, or support, as applicable.
The Executive Order does not preempt or limit any other statute that provides immunity from civil liability that may be available to an otherwise covered healthcare facility, healthcare worker, or volunteer. IHA has been advocating for these protections with the Governor’s Office in conjunction with the Illinois State Medical Society. These protections will provide coverage as hospitals continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and adds to the liability protections extended to volunteer healthcare professionals under Section 3215 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (H.R. 748).