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Stroger Hospital receives full accreditation
Commision gives Cook site full status

Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

The nation's key hospital-accrediting agency has granted Cook County's primary public hospital a clean bill of health, giving full accreditation seven months after downgrading its status to "conditional," Cook County Board President Todd Stroger announced Monday.

But the agency did not consider growing health-service backups that Stroger says can only be cured by higher taxes.

With a Feb. 29 deadline to pass a county budget approaching, Stroger said he is contacting commissioners to offer a sales-tax increase compromise, something less than the 2 percentage-point increase the board rejected last fall. Stroger said last week that he also backs $40 vehicle stickers for all cars.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations confirmed it accredited Stroger Hospital on Feb. 1 following what county officials said was a surprise inspection the day before. The agency last May cited the hospital for 16 areas of non-compliance, all of which have been addressed, Stroger said.

"The hospital was in a bit of turmoil," Stroger said, noting spending cuts and layoffs to balance the budget. "You can see the stability they were able to reach."

But Stroger said that's not a sign the hospital - - and the Health Services Bureau that oversees it - - is getting by with fewer resources. "We are not doing better with less," Stroger said. "The waits are getting longer again."

Commissioner Mike Quigley (D-Chicago), who along with other Stroger critics maintains the health bureau needs widespread financial, political and ethical reform, said Stroger and his late father, former Cook County Board President John Stroger, created financial problems at the hospital.

"Leadership avoids a crisis," Quigley said.



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