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Two Southland clinics could be eliminated

Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Daily Southtown
by Gregg Sherrard Blesch Staff writer

Two Cook County health clinics in the Southland get no funding to continue caring for the area's uninsured under the budget county board President Todd Stroger proposed Tuesday.
The Woody Winston Health Center in Phoenix and the Cottage Grove Health Center in Ford Heights apparently would close if the board approves Stroger's budget, though interim health bureau chief Dr. Robert Simon declined to say so.
Eliminating the two clinics would save about $2.2 million in salaries.
The cuts would leave the Robbins Health Center as the county's only clinic in the south suburbs. Stroger's budget proposal does not provide new resources for the Robbins site.
"A lot of people, they're not going to know where to go," said Kerry Green, 50, who was one of about 10 people in the Phoenix clinic's waiting room Tuesday.
The clinic, which has two full-time doctors, had 7,082 patient visits last year, according to an employee who asked that her name not be published.
Many of the clinic patients, including Green, are managing chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure.
"Where do they go when they can't get an appointment?" the employee said. "They have to go to the emergency room."
A man leaving the clinic with a cane and a labored gait said he drives from Burnham to get care in Phoenix.
His doctor told him to prepare for the clinic to close but hasn't yet told him where to go instead, said Michael, 42, who declined to give his last name.
"It's going to be inconvenient for a lot of people," he said.
The emergency room at Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey would be one choice.
"We were already working on some programs and services that I have a feeling may help soften the blow," Ingalls spokeswoman Sue Fine said.
Another destination could be Oak Forest Hospital, which appeared to dodge significant cuts in Stroger's budget proposal.
The numbers, however, failed to comfort the staff there.
"There is more to come," said Dr. Srinivas Jolepalem, an attending physician at Oak Forest. "This is not the complete budget."

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