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Filling prescriptions takes 10 hours at Stroger

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by CAROL MARIN AND ISMAEL ESTRADA

Patients at Cook County's Stroger Hospital are enduring punishing waits of up to 10 hours to fill prescriptions for essential medications, delays that were occurring even before massive county budget cuts were recently announced.
That is the finding of an NBC5 investigation of pharmacy lines at Stroger's Fantus Clinic, documenting a situation worse than 18 months earlier, when the station reported delays of seven hours.
Bertha Forrest, 51, of the South Side, said she waited 10 hours in November for medicine to treat her liver condition. "I was upset," she said. "I was concerned for the other people sitting there."
Dr. Robert Simon, newly appointed interim county health chief, was asked last week whether such a wait is acceptable. "No, no it isn't," he said. Simon said cutbacks in overtime, because of the budget crisis, are a major cause of the long lines.
But given the county's projected $500 million deficit and the 17 percent across-the-board budget cuts mandated by Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, the uninsured and working poor who rely on county health services could soon be waiting even longer for their prescriptions and medical treatment. A staff physician, speaking on condition of anonymity, told NBC5 that one heart-bypass patient suffering from an infection was told this week it would take three days to fill her antibiotic prescription.
County Commissioner Forrest Claypool contended Wednesday that if President Stroger would slash some of the county bureaucracy rather than public health, lives rather than patronage jobs would be saved. Some recent Stroger hires have been friends making six-figure salaries. "There is no higher priority than public health," said Claypool. "Doctors . . . can't be treated like paper pushers."
A chip off the old political bloc
January 11, 2007
When he was campaigning for Cook County Board president, Todd Stroger promised he would do things differently, that he would bring reform to county government. Some were cynical about his intentions; others said they would take him at his word and let him prove himself.
Too bad he is disappointing those who had crossed their fingers, hoping he was sincere about change, especially at a time when the county is trying to cut costs and balance its budget. The patronage practiced by his father, John Stroger Jr., who anointed his son to succeed him, continues as usual.
Cedric Giles, son of a corrupt Chicago alderman and a friend of the Stroger family, has just received a big promotion from a routine accountant at Stroger Hospital, where he earned $62,000, to a $103,000-a-year job as the county's new assistant comptroller. Carmen Triche-Colvin, the wife of state Rep. Marlow Colvin (D-Chicago), another Stroger friend, has become Cook County's interim purchasing agent, pending board approval. Her new job pays $126,000. Kim David Gilmore, also closely connected to the Strogers, recently became chief of the county's human resources bureau.
Was Stroger just being duplicitous in his election promises? Or, when it comes to nepotism and cronyism, is it just a matter of like father, like son?


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