Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
  The Chicago Board of Trade and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trade 60% of the world futures contracts.
   
     
     
     



County starts cutting care
ER crowded as clinic begins closing earlier

Thursday, January 11, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by Judith Graham

The ax has begun to fall on Cook County's beleaguered health system.

On Sunday, anticipating budget cuts, administrators slashed by a third the weekly hours for a large walk-in clinic near the Stroger Hospital campus. Last year, the clinic handled 105,000 patient visits.

On Monday, the clinic began turning away people who had come for care at 2 p.m.--five hours earlier than usual--and frustrated patients began walking over to the hospital's emergency room.

By Wednesday, the first come, first served clinic couldn't accept any more clients after lunch because of long lines, and ER staff members were complaining loudly about how many extra patients were showing up on their doorstep.

"We're only three days into this, and it's already a mess," said a clinic doctor who asked not to be identified because she is worried about losing her job.

This early experience will likely be magnified several times over if Cook County proceeds with proposed cuts to its far-flung network of 26 community clinics, as expected, sources suggest.

Lines for medical services will lengthen, people--many of them elderly and with chronic conditions such as diabetes--won't know where to get care, and emergency rooms across the city will be flooded with patients who have no means of paying for services, they said.

"It's very scary what could happen to poor people in this city," said Judith Haasis, executive director of Community Health, a free private clinic in Chicago.

On Tuesday, the county's new health chief, Dr. Robert Simon, confirmed that more than a dozen Cook County clinics could close as part of the health bureau's effort to cut $140 million from its operating budget.

"A lot of these sites see seven, maybe 10, maybe 12 patients a day," Simon told reporters, justifying the plan.

But Simon's figures appear to be off base, according to information the Tribune has obtained.

The only county medical clinics that see so few patients are the seven based in public schools. But those clinics don't report students' mental health visits--a primary reason youngsters seek care--for reasons of confidentiality. Also, school-based clinics run group sessions on health education that aren't counted toward the total.

In addition, Simon's staff seems to have calculated daily volume at medical clinics on the assumption that they are open seven days a week. Virtually all the smaller clinics are closed on weekends and holidays.

Taking that into account, the lowest volume clinic in the Cook County system, the Woody Winston Health Center in south suburban Phoenix, saw about 28 patients a day in 2005, according to data from Cook County reviewed by the Tribune. This figure assumes the clinic was open about 250 days a year.

"All of us asked ourselves: What numbers are they using?" said a clinic staffer who asked not to be identified, again because of the widespread fear of job losses in the health system. "We all have waiting lists for people to get in, not open slots."

Attempts to reach Simon's office for a response were unsuccessful. Steven Mayberry, spokesman for Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, said: "Dr. Simon doesn't have a history of misleading, and it's his budget to craft."

"I know from my own experience ... that the majority of county health centers are overbooked and do not have capacity for new patients for two or more months," Barbara Shaw, a nurse at Hayes Health Center in Chicago, wrote in an e-mail Wednesday to the Tribune.

Meanwhile, other community health centers in Cook County said they, too, were financially strained. Treating thousands of extra patients without the means to pay for care "has the potential to bury us financially," said Alan Channing, chief executive at Sinai Health System.

"You're talking about a health clinic system that's already overburdened and underfunded" as the number of uninsured Cook County residents grows, said Dr. Lee Francis, interim chief executive at Erie Family Health Center.

"We will do everything in our power to help, but we have finite resources also, and many of our health centers are at capacity," said Donna Thompson, chief executive of Access Community Health, which operates 47 private health clinics for needy patients in and around Chicago.

Even if Cook County drastically reduces its clinic network, the savings are likely to be minimal. The entire clinic budget is about $51 million.

Late Wednesday, amid swirling rumors, Stroger issued a statement asserting that he would not close Provident Hospital, one of three hospitals operated by the county health system.

On average, only 60 patients stay at the hospital and only one or two babies are born there on any given day. An earlier proposal by interim chiefs at the health system suggested Provident's labor and delivery unit and pediatrics department should be closed or the hospital shuttered altogether.

- - -

Clinics at risk

The approximate number of patients seen daily at the lowest-volume clinics in the Cook County system, according to a Tribune analysis of 2005 data:

- Woody Winston Health Center, Phoenix: 28 patients

- Cottage Grove Health Center, Ford Heights: 39 patients

- Vista Health Center, Palatine: 44 patients

- Cicero Health Center: 51 patients

- Robbins Health Center: 53 patients

- Woodlawn Health Center, Chicago: 56 patients

- Austin Health Center,

- Chicago: 59 patients

- Near South Health Clinic, Chicago: 60 patients

Note: Does not include clinics based in public schools.



Recent Headlines

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Neighborhood program helps Cook County residents buy homes
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Judge upholds Cook County firearm, ammunition taxes
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Editorial: E-filing should make Cook County courts more accessible. It doesn't
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County tax incentive could pave way for Wingstop, Dunkin' Donuts on Elgin's Summit Street
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: What happened to the elk?
Friday, August 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wells Fargo to offer $15,000 grants to potential Cook County homebuyers
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suit alleges Cook County detainees secretly monitored in bathrooms in holding cells at courthouses
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Half the elk at Busse Woods died last year, and officials arenít sure why
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

A letter from Dr. Jay Shannon regarding gun violence and Stroger Hospital
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

As Evanston adapts to minimum wage hike, nearby towns say they have no plan to join in
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit could blast a $250 million hole in county budget
Monday, August 06, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Pappas: Automatic refunds of $19.5 million going to 53,000 homeowners because of property tax cuts
Monday, August 06, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Thousands of Cook County homeowners to receive property tax refunds
Monday, August 06, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP