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Cook County Health taps New York hospital executive as next CEO
If approved by county commissioners, Israel Rocha Jr. will face a $187 million shortfall at the public hospital system.

Wednesday, October 07, 2020
Chicago Sun-Times
by Brett Chase

A New York hospital executive has been named to lead Cook County’s public health system, which faces a $187 million budget deficit for 2021.

Israel Rocha Jr., chief executive of the Elmhurst and Queens hospitals in the NYC Health + Hospitals system, was selected by the Cook County hospital system board; county commissioners will consider him when they meet later this month, a spokeswoman said.

If approved, Rocha, 42, would replace Dr. John Jay Shannon, who left last year after the hospital board decided against renewing his contract. Cook County Health operates John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital, Provident Hospital, 17 health clinics and Cermak Health Services, which treats county jail detainees.

“The board is confident in Mr. Rocha’s ability to lead CCH at this critical time in the organization and in the country,” spokeswoman Caryn Stancik said.

The board of commissioners is expected to consider Rocha’s hire at its October 22 meeting, she said.

Rocha’s hiring was first reported by WBEZ.

Rocha, who didn’t return a call seeking comment, would be the first full-time CEO at the Cook County system since William Foley resigned in 2011 who isn’t a medical doctor.

Debra Carey, previously deputy CEO of operations, was named interim chief executive at the beginning of the year.

In August, Carey announced a plan to lay off 130 employees and shut two clinics to help fill the budget gap.

Rocha joined NYC Health in July 2016 after heading a hospital system in Texas. He has a master’s in public administration from New York University, according to his NYC Health bio.

“When you have great people in your organization, you know that someday they may be lured away,” NYC Health Chief Executive Dr. Mitchell Katz said in a statement. “Israel Rocha is an extremely talented, compassionate leader.”

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.



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