Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  

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.

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

Why evict patients who need help?

Sunday, April 08, 2007
Chicago Sun-Times
by MARK BROWN Sun-Times Columnist

A ragtag procession of patients in wheelchairs made their way down the long drive leading from Oak Forest Hospital to the 159th Street entrance on Friday afternoon to hold a rally protesting their threatened relocation.

Many were paraplegics or quadriplegics. They were bundled in coats and blankets. Some had to be pushed, while others had just enough arm strength to manipulate the controls on their motorized wheelchairs.

Zabrian Goodrich, 35, paralyzed in an auto accident, said he has been at Oak Forest for two years. Ralph Scroggins, 48, has been there seven years since suffering a spinal cord injury that he says resulted from surgery at Stroger Hospital. Glenn Wise, 46, has been an Oak Forest patient for 18 years, since he was shot in the head by a Chicago Police officer after he pulled a stickup with a toy gun.

In all, there are more than 200 affected patients in long-term care at Oak Forest, most of them too ill or incapacitated to even make the trip outside the hospital for the protest.

Many see Oak Forest Hospital as home

All of them, though, landed at this county-owned health facility for more or less the same reason: they have long-term, complicated medical needs but few if any resources of their own, and somebody believed this was the best place to take care of them.

Now, however, the county's top health official, Dr. Robert Simon, has decided it's not cost-effective to provide care for such patients at Oak Forest and that they'll be just as well off in nursing homes or other skilled-care facilities.

So hospital officials sent the patients and their family members and guardians a letter last week warning that they intend to discontinue all long-term care services and have set a target date of Sept. 1. The discharge process is scheduled to begin May 1, the letter warned. At the very least, county officials say, they intend to trim the number of patients in long-term care to 70.

That news has been both frightening and confusing to the patients, many of whom have come to think of Oak Forest as their home.

I confess to being a little confused myself.

The way I see it, either somebody was fooling us all these years about the need to care for these folks at Oak Forest, or they're trying to fool us now about how it won't hurt anything to send them elsewhere.

It's not as if anything has changed other than the people in charge, those being Simon and the guy who put him in the job, Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.

Stroger is facing budget problems that weren't of his own making and is feeling pressure to operate the county health system more efficiently without raising taxes. I understand that.

But this doesn't have the feel of a decision that was carefully considered. And more important, I don't see any evidence that anybody has made a thoughtful analysis of the needs of these patients, the supply of which, it should be noted, is constantly replenishing itself.

Dr. Srinivas Jolepalem, an attending physician at Oak Forest, said patients need the extra medical attention they receive at the hospital, which would not be available at a regular nursing home. Many are still trying to learn to walk and talk again.

Jolepalem claims that moving the patients could cause their conditions to deteriorate -- or even kill them. I don't know if that's true, but I think Stroger and Simon should have to publicly explain why it isn't.

The protest was organized by Service Employees International Union Local 20, which has 600 members working at the hospital, many of whose jobs are threatened by the cutbacks.

Paying the price

As I shivered in the cold outside the hospital gates with the patients and the union members, I couldn't help but remember a similarly frigid spring day just one year ago, when I stood outside a polling place in Cook County Board President John Stroger's home ward on primary Election Day.

The polling place was being manned by a pair of Oak Forest workers, dressed in their purple SEIU windbreakers with matching yellow sneakers. These "Soldiers for Stroger" were part of the union's massive effort to turn out the vote for the stroke-stricken County Board president, motivated by scare tactics alleging that his opponent Forrest Claypool intended to dismantle the county health-care system and eliminate their jobs, despite his pledges to the contrary.

Now it's the patients who are paying the price for their miscalculation

Recent Headlines

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

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

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

all news items

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