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To cure county health ills, create independent body

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Crain's Chicago Business
by Eugene Michael Giudice
Letter to the Editor

"Panel eyeing hospital shift" by Mike Colias (Crain's, Sept. 17) really brings home the point about how there is often nothing really new, just things that keep coming around. This is especially true about the idea proffered by a number of politicians that the Cook County Bureau of Health Services should be run by a commission and not by the county board.
In the book "The Old Lady on Harrison Street" by John G. Raffensperger, you will find that efforts to keep the county hospital system free of political patronage and interference are as old as the hospital itself. One may also learn that, at one time in the not-too-distant past, the hospital was run by an independent board.
If this idea is to work, two things must happen. First, leaders in government must learn from the mistakes of the past and understand the circumstances that caused the independent boards of the past to be disbanded. Second, there must be airtight assurances of independence by the new governing body that all decisions, especially those about hiring and contracts, will be free from political interference. The new board must be made up of dedicated professionals who specialize in public health.
The Bureau of Health Services can become a model for health-delivery services nationwide if only there is the political will to stop making it, and all county government for that matter, a dumping ground for the politically connected to collect a paycheck.
The citizens of this county deserve nothing less than a world-class health service and will be willing to pay for it if proper governance is in place.
Eugene Michael Giudice

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