Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

   
  Cook County is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



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

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas on unclaimed property tax exemptions: ” Most seniors didn’t know that they could get it.”
Friday, July 19, 2019
WGN Chicago

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?’
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but we sure know your type
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo says he got a friend’s parking ticket voided
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

The story behind those commercial assessment hikes everyone's mad about
Friday, July 19, 2019
Crain's Chicago Business

Chicago-Area Cooling Centers Offer Residents Chance to Beat the Heat
Thursday, July 18, 2019
NBC 5 Chicago

Editorial: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but the people of Cook County deserve to find out.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s top cop ‘must stop misleading the public’ about violence, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says in heated letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Tribune

‘Do you know who I am?’ Investigators say Cook County commissioner pressed cops to scrap ally’s $250 parking ticket
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

IG: Cook County needs revamp on sexual harassment outside of work following allegations against Preckwinkle ex-chief of staff
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Higher Assessments Hit North Suburban Commercial Property Owners
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Evanston Patch

How did an inmate get a loaded gun into Cook County Jail?
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Check exemptions, file an appeal: What you can do to fight your Cook County property tax bill
Thursday, July 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

’A lack of mental health services has plagued Chicago for decades’: Holy Cross Hospital expanding to fill that void on the Southwest Side
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Construction Begins on New Cook County Health Center
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Daily Herald

How To Appeal Your Cook County Property Tax Assessment
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

County Commission Hopes to Increase 2020 Census Participation
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
WTTW News

Cook County Property Tax Bills: Where Does Your Money Go?
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

Seniors Receive Inflated Property Tax Bills By Mistake
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
WBBM Radio

all news items

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