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Ex-Stroger chief of staff gets hospital study pact

Friday, January 28, 2005
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

A new company led by Cook County Board President John Stroger's former chief of staff and godson is one of the subcontractors on a proposed $1.4 million study that may determine whether the old county hospital is torn down or reused.

Orlando Jones' company, Premier Alliance Management LLC, would provide "essential input" and would "act as a team liaison to owner and user groups" on the project, according to a letter submitted by contractor U.S. Equities Realty.

Jones, who left the administration in 2001, previously ran county-owned Provident Hospital and was a key figure in the planning and early construction of the new Stroger Hospital.

One of his employees at Premier, Linda Strickland, is a former top nursing official with the county who is expected to be the company's main participant in the project.

Jones and Strickland's unique expertise will play a valuable role in the work, which is on a tight time schedule, said Robert Wislow, the head of U.S. Equities.

"Nobody knows it better," Wislow said of Jones and Strickland's knowledge of the county system. "These are the people who know where all of the bones are buried."

"We really reached out to put a highly qualified team out there . . . with experience on this campus," Wislow said.

Perkins + Will and W.E. O'Neil Construction are the other main subcontractors on the project team.

The contract goes to the Cook County Board for approval Tuesday. The project team is expected to provide a preliminary report within five months on current and future space needs for the county health-care system. The study is expected to include a cost estimate for renovating the old hospital.

The county had intended to tear down Cook County Hospital on the West Side after the Stroger facility was opened in December 2002.

However, preservationists have pushed to save the 91-year-old structure and, so far, county commissioners have blocked demolition attempts.

Stroger spokeswoman Caryn Stancik said Jones' company is getting 8 percent of the contract.

Jones could not be reached for comment.

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