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Letter from the CEO of Cook County Health
System News

Tuesday, December 01, 2020
Special to suffredin.org
by Cook County Health

November/December 2020

Letter from the CEO

Dear Cook County Health Friends and Partners,

When I took on the role of Cook County Health interim CEO in January 2020, I did not anticipate the challenges that we as a nation and a global health community were about to face. Just a few weeks later, Cook County Health and the entire world would begin to reckon with a pandemic that has shone new light on health inequities and has tasked the U.S. healthcare system and our economy.

I am proud of the hardworking team at Cook County Health who have tirelessly cared for some of the sickest patients, ensuring the highest levels of care to those with COVID-19 and working to make sure that our non-COVID-19 patients have the needed resources to stay healthy. I would like to highlight the Cook County Department of Public Health team and their hard work to expand the contact tracing program to more robustly track and provide support to COVID-19 cases in suburban Cook County.

Our other COVID-19 responses included:

·Balancing a FY2021 budget that was just approved in the midst of a pandemic.

·Meeting our mission to break even, which continues to be a challenge during COVID-19.

·Expanding telehealth programs in our outpatient clinics to provide continuity of care and allow patients to visit their providers from the safety of their home.

·Implementing COVID-19 intervention and protocols at Cook County Jail, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control found were among the many interventions and protocols that enabled the jail to quickly reduce virus spread in the spring. CDC officials noted that the policies enacted by the Sheriff’s Office and Cermak Health Services served as a model to the nation.

·Instituting mitigation strategies for staff, patients and visitors at all CCH facilities.

·Participating in several groundbreaking COVID-related clinical trials to ensure our patients have access to the latest treatment options.

·Establishing a health equity committee at CCH.

·Continuing to provide exceptional care to the patients who rely on us.

I would like to thank the staff and our community partners for their support during this time.

I am excited to welcome Israel Rocha Jr. as the next CEO of Cook County Health. His background serving as CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Elmhurst and Queens hospitals, which were at the epicenter of the first wave of COVID-19, has prepared him well for the challenge we are facing now.

As Mr. Rocha ushers in a new chapter of Cook County Health’s storied history, I will resume my role as Deputy CEO. I look forward to working with Mr. Rocha as we navigate the health system through the latest COVID-19 surge and continue to improve the patient experience.

Hospitals and health care workers are at the brink of being overwhelmed. On behalf of everyone, I urge you to get a flu shot, to use caution during the holiday season, to continue wearing a mask, to observe local guidance and to maintain physical distancing.

Sincerely,

Debra D. Carey

Interim CEO

Israel Rocha Jr. Named New CEO of Cook County Health

In October, the Cook County Board of Commissioners approved the appointment of Israel Rocha Jr. as the next Chief Executive Officer for Cook County Health. Mr. Rocha’s official start date is December 7.

Mr. Rocha previously served as the CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Elmhurst and Queens hospitals. NYC Health + Hospitals is the largest public health system in the U.S. with a combined annual budget of over $8 billion.

Over the course of Mr. Rocha’s time at Elmhurst, he successfully implemented an operational and clinical improvement plan that turned around financial performance from a $100M deficit to a breakeven point in less than three years. He increased patient revenue by over $50M in 24 months through the implementation of a clinical services plan that expanded Elmhurst’s market share in a number of service lines. Mr. Rocha established a patient throughput and quality assurance team that reduced patient length of stay by 1.3 days, reduced ER wait times by almost 30 percent, and improved physician engagement scores by 20 percent in the first year of enactment.

Working with the team at Queens, Mr. Rocha launched the development of a Sickle Cell Center of Excellence, started a Hip and Knee Joint Replacement Program and launched the development of a new Primary Stroke Center. The development of a full simulation education program has been launched as well as an initiative to integrate services with Elmhurst Hospital for expanded coverage of the Surgical ICU.

Before joining NYCH+H, Mr. Rocha served as the CEO of Doctors Hospital at Renaissance Health System in Edinburg, Texas. Prior to his healthcare roles, Mr. Rocha worked in the federal legislative process in Washington D.C. for Texas Congressman Rubin Hinojosa (D-15). He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the Wagner School of Public Service at New York University and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science & Environmental Science from Columbia University, NY.

COVID-19 Updates from Cook County Health

Hospital and Clinic Updates from Cook County Health

Cook County Health continues to take steps to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff and is working closely with local and state agencies, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and our own Cook County Department of Public Health.

Update on Elective Surgeries and Telehealth Visits

Effective November 16, all elective procedures requiring an inpatient stay have been postponed. Outpatient clinics, including specialty clinics, will be open for urgent care and clinically necessary in-person visits. All other visits will move to telehealth.

Universal Masking

Since March, all patients and staff are required to wear a mask when they enter Cook County Health hospitals and clinics. CCH does not allow bandanas, masks with valves or gaiters. CCH distributes masks upon entry.

?Your mask should cover your nose and your mouth and rest under your chin. It should not be hanging around your neck or arm or under your nose. Avoid touching the mask while using it. To remove the mask, remove it from behind the ears and do not touch the front of the mask.

Visitor Restrictions

To protect our patients and staff, visitors are not permitted at Cook County Health locations, except in the cases that have been pre-approved by a CCH manager.

We ask individuals who are not sick and do not have an appointment to stay home. All patients and approved visitors must always wear a mask.

Accessing Cook County Health Locations

John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital Open Entrances:

·Main Campus Parking Garage

·Emergency Department

·Stroger Entrance 2 (main entrance off Harrison)

·Professional Building at Polk Street

Provident Hospital Open Entrances:

·Main Entrance

·Emergency Department

·Main garage (entrance located off Forrestville Ave.) is available for parking.

?What to Do if You Feel Sick

If you have a fever, cough, shortness of breath, or you have lost your sense of smell or feel like you have the flu, call your provider or the hospital for directions on where to go to be screened and tested.

Study Suggests Mild to Moderate COVID-19 Patients Who Receive the Eli Lilly Antibody May Experience Better Clinical Outcomes

Results from a study led by Infectious Disease experts from Cook County Health indicate that outpatients with mild to moderate COVID-19 who received the Eli Lilly antibody drug therapy called LY-CoV555 may have experienced better clinical outcomes than patients who received the placebo.

Called the BLAZE-1 study, the phase II, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled outpatient trial enrolled 452 participants. Results from the study were published in the October 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Cook County Health was one of 24 academic medical institutions across the U.S. and one of only two in Illinois to lead the trial.

The antibody known as LY-CoV555 was derived from one of the first U.S. patients to survive COVID-19. Study participants were given a one-time intravenous infusion of the medication LY-CoV555 of either 700mg, 2,800mg or 7,000mg, or a placebo. At Cook County Health, study participants enrolled in the trial were predominately LatinX and African American.

Study participants who received the monoclonal therapy experienced fewer hospitalizations and ER visits compared to those who only received the placebo. The severity of symptoms in patients who received the drug therapy improved on days 2-6 with the acceleration of the virus resolving by day 3.

“Our hope has been that the antibody drug will reduce COVID symptoms quickly after diagnosis and help to eradicate the virus more quickly,” said Dr. Gregory Huhn, an infectious disease physician for Cook County Health and principal site investigator of the BLAZE-1 study.

Dr. Huhn, who is also a co-author of the recently published article in the NEJM, said, “While a vaccine is still likely necessary to generate overall population protective immunity, this drug therapy has the potential to deliver favorable clinical outcomes and prevent complications of COVID-19.”

According to Dr. Huhn, the expansion of the BLAZE-1 study will include higher-risk individuals such as individuals over 65 or those with diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular, autoimmune and kidney diseases. The study will also expand to adolescents.

Eli Lilly and Company, the maker of the antibody medicine LY-CoV555, sponsored the study.

Cook County Department of Public Health Launches Campaign to Improve Understanding of Contact Tracing

Cook County Department of Public Health's “Answer the Call” contact tracing campaign launched on November 10.

This campaign is designed to raise awareness about the important role contact tracing plays in helping to slow the spread of COVID-19. Ads will promote "Slow the spread. Answer the call." and include the phone number (312-777-1999) associated with the health department’s contact tracing program.

Ads will be run in English and Spanish on Snapchat, Instagram, Google, YouTube, as well as radio and digital billboards.

Community-based Organizations Awarded COVID-19 Funding Through Cook County Department of Public Health

The Illinois Department of Public Health has allocated nearly $41 million to the Cook County Department of Public Health as part of the COVID-19 Local Health Department Contact Tracing Grant.

CCDPH understands the importance and value of incorporating community-based organizations (CBOs) to share COVID-19 information and resources to communities that have been disproportionally impacted by the pandemic. Over $5 million has already been awarded to CBOs across Suburban Cook County. With the funding, the CBOs can provide outreach and education, expand existing services, or implement COVID-19 testing.

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The CBOs will participate in Equity Labs, Regional Learning & Action Networks, and Peer Learning designed to help foster relationships, increase their knowledge, skills, and learn/share timely COVID-19 information while engaging in active informed and problem-based learning.

Below is a list of current awardees. Option 1 organizations were awarded $20,000 to share and distribute COVID-19 information, materials and resources. Option 2 organizations were awarded up to $300,000 to share and distribute COVID-19 information, materials and resources and implement specific projects previously selected by the CBO. The projects include community outreach education and expansion of existing services. Six organizations (bolded below) will be providing testing.

Option 1 Awardees

·Alivio Medical Center

·Barbara Westbrook Smith Family Life Center NFP

·Best of Proviso Township

·Center for Community Academic Success Partnerships

·Centro de Trabajadores Unidos / United Workers' Center

·Cornerstone Community Development Corporation

·Dream Academy Foundation

·Ecker Center for Behavioral Health

·It Could Be Your Kid

·Journeys | The Road Home

·Nations Warriors Alliance

·Next Move Community Services

·Northwest Compass, Inc.

·Oak Park Regional Housing Center

·Proactive Community Services

·Progress Center for Independent Living

·Quinn Center of St. Eulalia

·Seasons Community Outreach Services

·Sibling Leadership Network

·The Monroe Foundation

·The Nehemiah Community Project

·Thinking Beyond

·True Love Center

·Williams Aftercare Recovery Center

Option 2 Awardees

·Arab American Family Services

·Center of Concern

·Family Christian Health Center

·Farmworker and Landscaper Advocacy Project (FLAP)

·First Baptist Church of Melrose Park

·Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics

·Latino Alzheimer's and Memory Disorders Alliance (LAMDA)

·Loyola University Chicago

·Partners for Our Communities

·Pillars Community Health

·Proviso Leyden Council for Community Action, Inc.

·Respond Now

·Rincon Family Services

·Sisters Working It Out

·Southland Ministerial Health Network, NFP

·Suburban Primary Health Care Council / DBA: Access to Care

·TCA Health, Inc. NFP

·The Link & Option Center, Inc.

Woodlawn and Near South Clinics to Re-locate to Provident Hospital Beginning December 7

To provide our patients with access to high-quality care, Cook County Health is consolidating the services provided at Woodlawn and Near South into the outpatient clinic located within Provident Hospital on December 7.

This move will allow patients to see their current doctor and receive more services in one convenient location with access to more clinical services, diagnostic testing and procedures, as well as ample parking. This equitable approach significantly enhances outpatient care and access on the South side of Chicago.

?Patients will have access to a new Lifestyle Center, a series of new wraparound services for patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases which disproportionately affects the Black community, a new, state-of-the-art dialysis center, a new ambulatory center with expanded surgical services, and state-of-the-art imaging services which will include CT scans, MRIs and upgraded radiology rooms.

Additionally, Cook County Health will be investing $2M in a new colon cancer screening program at Provident Hospital in FY21.

The full portfolio of robust outpatient services that will be provided on the Provident campus in FY2021 includes:

• Outpatient Primary Care

(Behavioral Health, Family Medicine, Gynecology, Internal Medicine, Prenatal Care)

• Mammography

• Lifestyle Center

• Breast Clinic

• Bariatrics

• General Medicine

• Pathology Services

• Outpatient Specialty Clinic

(Addiction Medicine, Cardiology,

Colorectal Surgery, Diabetes &

Endocrinology, Gastroenterology)

• Diagnostic Imaging

• Cardiac and Pulmonary Diagnostics

• Pharmacy

• Social Services

• Neurology

• Ophthalmology

• Optometry

• Podiatry

• Psychology/Psychiatry

• Pulmonary

• Renal

• Sleep Medicine

• Urology

Cook County Health’s Dr. Lakshmi Warrior Named to Crain’s 40 Under 40

Dr. Lakshmi Warrior, chair of neurology at Cook County Health, has been named to the 2020 class of Crain’s Chicago Business’ 40 Under 40.

Dr. Warrior, who resides in River Forest, is one of a handful of Chicago area professionals to be spotlighted in the highly anticipated annual list. Forty leaders across multiple industries who have achieved extraordinary success before the age of 40 were photographed, interviewed and featured.

Since 1989, Crain’s has honored more than 1,100 people, many of whom have since achieved national acclaim. Past honorees include Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Chance the Rapper.

Two years ago, Dr. Warrior, at 34 years old, was appointed to one of the top medical positions in the health system, leading the neurology unit at one of the largest public safety net health systems in the U.S.

In 2016, Dr. Warrior took on the monumental task of opening the first Stroke Clinic at Cook County Health. The goal was to provide comprehensive stroke treatment for underserved patients and connect them to resources that could improve outcomes and lower stroke risk. With limited financial resources, Dr. Warrior worked across multiple departments to convince colleagues to join in helping to improve outcomes.

Since it opened, the Stroke Clinic has cared for more than 700 patients, targeting populations who are often most at risk for stroke but often face severe obstacles to receiving care. More than half the patients seen by Dr. Warrior and her team are African American, more than a third are uninsured, nearly 37 percent speak a first language other than English, and more than a third do not have a high school diploma.

Cook County Health received the national designation as a primary stroke center by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association in 2014 prior to Dr. Warrior taking on her appointment. The recognition is for hospitals that meet standards and criteria set by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association for work to foster better outcomes in stroke patients. Under Dr. Warrior’s leadership, Cook County Health has been able to maintain the designation every year since it was awarded. Dr. Warrior has also increased stroke education in local communities, targeting areas where people are most at-risk.

Dr. Warrior is also the co-lead on the Cook County Health Equity Initiative, which is developing a comprehensive strategy to address health equity for patients, employees and the community.

Breast Cancer Patients Recognized in Virtual Event, Cook County Health Celebrates Wear Pink Day

Staff at Cook County Health wore pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase attention and support for awareness, early detection and treatment as well as palliative care for the disease. No matter who you are or where you live, breast cancer may touch your life. Here in Illinois, more than 11,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Breast cancer occurs mainly in women, but men can get it too.

On October 30, Cook County Health employees wore pink in support of groups working to enhance awareness and show support for people affected by breast cancer. In addition, we held a virtual event celebrating our breast cancer survivors that included remarks from Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Dr. Claudia Fegan, chief medical officer at CCH, and Dr. Julie Wecsler, breast oncologist at CCH. Participants were also able to engage in virtual yoga and Zumba exercises.

Cook County COVID-19 Recovery Programs

Cook County Health Awarded Gold and Silver Quality Achievement from the American Heart Association for Severe Heart Attack and Heart Failure Care

Cook County Health received two major awards from the American Heart Association – the Mission: Lifeline® STEMI Receiving Center Gold Award and the Get With The Guidelines® Heart Failure Silver Award with Target Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll. Both awards signify the health system’s efficient and effective high quality of care for both heart attack and heart failure patients.

“Ensuring speedy, state-of-the-art heart care is at the core of Cook County Health’s cardiology services,” said Dr. Rami Doukky, chair of cardiology for Cook County Health. “For many of our heart patients, their first point of contact of heart care is when they have suffered a cardiac event, and we want to ensure they go on to live healthy, productive lives.”

Each year, more than 250,000 people experience a ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI), the deadliest type of heart attack, caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.

The American Heart Association’s Missing Lifeline program’s goal is to reduce system barriers to prompt treatment for heart attacks following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines.

The second award is the Get With The Guidelines Heart Failure initiative, which recognizes a hospital’s commitment to ensuring heart failure patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines found in the latest scientific evidence. The goal is speeding recovery and reducing hospital readmissions for heart failure patients.

Additionally, Cook County Health earned a spot on the Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll by meeting quality measures with more than 90 percent compliance for 12 consecutive months.

“As COVID-19 continues to plague our communities, now more than ever, heart care is essential,” Dr. Doukky said. “Patients with pre-existing heart conditions are at an increased risk of complications from the virus, so it is imperative that our patients take the best care of their hearts, and the cardiology team at Cook County Health is here to do that.”

Cook County Health Partners with Top Box Foods to Provide Easier Access to Healthy, Low-cost Foods

Cook County Health is excited to announce a new partnership with Top Box Foods.

Top Box Foods is a Chicago-based nonprofit organization that seeks to make healthy and affordable food accessible to all. Top Box Foods offers fresh produce, frozen meats and other essentials at up to 40% off.

Cook County Health will host a Top Box Foods pickup at Provident Hospital on Friday, December 18, from 3-6 p.m. The Top Box Foods truck will be parked on the east side of the Provident Hospital campus on Forestville and 51st.

Cook County Health

A variety of pre-packed boxes of fruits, vegetables and various proteins will be available for pre-order. Visit the Top Box Foods website to view the choices for the December 18 pickup.

Boxes must be pre-ordered and pre-paid by Tuesday, December 15 at 10 a.m.

Top Box Foods accepts debit and credit card payments through their website; SNAP is also accepted and can be processed over the phone.

Top Box Foods also offers no-fee home deliveries. Visit the website for more details or call (312) 527-7890, ext. 200 for questions.

Physician Profile:

?Dr. Jacqueline Korpics, Medical Director, Cook County Department of Public Health COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative

Dr. Jacqueline Korpics is serving as the medical director of the Cook County Department of Public Health’s COVID-19 Contact Tracing Initiative. In her role, she is training COVID-19 case investigators and contact tracers as well as various programs designed to assist residents of suburban Cook County who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Dr. Korpics’ background is in preventive medicine and public health. She has previously worked in Federally Qualified Health Centers in Chicago, focusing on the care of immigrants and refugees in Chicago. She later earned her master’s degree in public health and has been working with the Cook County Department of Public Health since January 2019.

“As a primary care physician, I saw the impact that systemic and structural issues had on the well-being of my patients,” she said. “That’s what drew me to public health, where I could approach disease from a system level.”

After attending medical school at Loyola University-Chicago, she completed her residency in pediatrics at Rush University Medical Center, with an emphasis on global health.

Cook County Health in the News

Chicago Tribune: New York hospital executive officially appointed as next Cook County Health leader, vows to be ‘fiscally, financially resilient’

Antibody drug tested in Cook County may be helpful to some COVID-19 patients, results show

ABC 7: COVID-19 face mask CDC guidance update based on real world case studies

AstraZeneca: COVID-19 vaccine 'highly effective' prevention

As COVID-19 vaccine nears, demand for diversity grows

NBC 5: Hospitalizations Surge, Doctors Warn of ‘Super Spreader’ Holidays

Chicago Sun-Times: Sheriff Dart warns second wave of COVID cases threatens efforts to contain virus inside jail

WBBM: Doctor says they too have COVID-fatigue, but people need to continue wearing masks, maintaining distance

WTTW: How Hospitals Are Coping With a Surge in COVID-19 Cases

Crain’s Chicago Business: Here is what Illinois has riding on the Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision

Visit our website at cookcountyhealth.org

?If you would like to invite a representative from CCH to attend a community event, please send an email to events@cookcountyhhs.org.

To provide feedback on CCH Community News, update your contact information, or unsubscribe, please email Marcelino Garcia, Director of Community Affairs, at mgarcia6@cookcountyhhs.org.

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