Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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.

   
  Last year more people used the County's forest preserves than visited Yellowstone National Park.
   
     
     
     



A fraying lifeline for those in dire need.

Sunday, November 25, 2007
Chicago Tribune
by David Schwartz

COOK COUNTY BUREAU OF HEALTH SERVICES

A silent, pernicious epidemic threatens the health and welfare of the Chicago area. Unless we act now, untold thousands will be at risk.

No, I'm not talking about MRSA. I'm referring to the financial crisis ailing the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, by far the area's largest provider of health care to the indigent and the uninsured.

I am an infectious diseases physician and have worked at Cook County (now Stroger) Hospital since I finished training in 1993. I am not writing out of concern for my own livelihood; like most of my colleagues, I am good at what I do and can
readily find work elsewhere.

I write because, also like most of my colleagues, I love my job and I'm proud of what we've accomplished. Most of all, I write because a terrible toll will be exacted on the poor and the uninsured if the Bureau of Health is allowed to fail.

"Wait a minute," you might say. "Isn't the Bureau of Health run by the same Cook County government whose nepotism and political patronage are splashed across the newspapers every day?"

Well, the Cook County Board, about whom most of these grievances are alleged, oversees and levies taxes for Bureau of Health operations. But the Bureau of Health is distinct from the County Board and deserves to be judged on its own merits.

The Bureau of Health's mission is to "provide integrated health services with dignity and respect regardless of a patient's ability to pay." Its network of clinics and hospitals gives tens of thousands of people preventive and restorative care every year.

The last decade has witnessed a remarkable transformation in the breadth and quality of clinical services, an achievement that all Cook County residents should take pride in.

- At Stroger Hospital, dedicated and highly skilled physicians provide internationally recognized care and training in many disciplines. In internal medicine, for example, 100 percent of residency program graduates now pass their board exams.

- Collaborative training and research programs have blossomed through our primary academic affiliation with Rush University Medical Center.

- Besides Stroger Hospital itself, we now have the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, where nearly 6,000 people with HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases receive comprehensive, multidisciplinary care.

- Finally, through clinics distributed across the county and anchored at Stroger, Provident and Oak Forest Hospitals, scores of thousands receive compassionate and competent primary care.

But these resources are now threatened.

The Cook County Board failed to respond adequately to long-projected budgetary shortfalls, leading to sharp cuts in the budget for the current fiscal year. This has led to the dismissal of scores of doctors and nurses and the closing of many clinics. Many more clinicians, some with highly distinguished careers, were prompted to find employment elsewhere.

Untold numbers of patients have had to find alternative sources of care, with some very likely to have gone without.
Though badly buffeted by this storm, the Bureau of Health has survived with its core services largely intact. Dr. Robert Simon, the bureau's interim chief, has submitted a budget request to the Cook County Board that would restore some of the lost services and positions. If the board is unable to make up the projected shortfalls in the 2008 budget and more cuts are imposed, however, the Bureau of Health and its mission will founder, if not sink entirely.

To avert this catastrophe, the County Board must raise the additional revenue necessary.

Then, to conform to nearly all other major American municipal health systems, it must create a voluntary and independent board of trustees with the experience and expertise necessary to guide an operation with the size and complexity of the bureau. Doing so would remove the obvious conflicts of interest that characterize the current governance system. And it would provide the credibility needed for the bureau to sustain its mission over the long term.
(The recently released report by the Cook County Bureau of Health Review Committee, composed of administrators from outside hospitals, is an excellent resource for readers interested in learning more.)

A patient admitted this month to my internal medicine inpatient service at Stroger Hospital -- I'll call her Ida -- exemplifies the stakes in this crisis.

Ida, a hardworking, previously healthy woman in her 50s, noticed increasing breathlessness with exertion over a period of weeks and came to the emergency department when she became short of breath even at rest. She was found to have dangerously high blood pressure and severe heart and kidney failure. With treatment, she quickly improved but now faces chronic dialysis.

Ida's illness and its aftermath could have been prevented with access to even the most rudimentary health care, a story that is all too common. With the erosion of private medical insurance, every day brings more and more patients to Bureau of Health hospitals. These patients are newly sickened from preventable or manageable diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, kidney failure, stroke, HIV infection or cancers of the breast or colon.

Ida and many like her suffer so because they mistakenly believe that health care is inaccessible to them. Unless the bureau is preserved, that will become the reality. Patients who rely on the bureau's services for their continued good health will have nowhere to turn.

David Schwartz is a senior physician in the division of infectious diseases at Stroger Hospital.



Recent Headlines

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 suffredin.org

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 suffredin.org

Thousands of Cook County homeowners to receive property tax refunds
Monday, August 06, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

all news items

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