SPRINGFIELD — The federal government shutdown has put routine safety inspections of Illinois hospitals, nursing homes and other health-care facilities on hold.

Illinois is among the top national recipients of federal money to pay for inspections of medical facilities, typically receiving an estimated $1.3 million a month.

Without that cash flowing in from Washington, D.C., the Illinois Department of Public Health stopped conducting certain types of investigations unless officials receive credible allegations of problems at a facility.

Public Health spokeswoman Melaney Arnold said the lack of federal money for inspections may not pose an immediate problem.

"A couple of weeks may not have that big of an impact," she said.

But, she added in a statement, "If the shutdown persists for an extended period of time, cash flow and supporting federal programs will become a more critical issue in the weeks ahead."

In addition to the block on federal inspections, state public health efforts also are being stymied by the closure of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which provides processing for some lab specimens.

Meanwhile, federally funded meat inspectors remain on the job, said Illinois Department of Agriculture spokesman Jeff Squibb.

"That could change, however, if the shutdown would drag into December, when a payment is due for state meat inspection services," Squibb said.

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