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Better health care in Cook County

Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Chicago Tribune

On Friday, February 29, 2008, the Cook County Board, due in large part to the efforts of Commissioner Larry Suffredin, voted to create an Independent Board of Directors to oversee the Cook County Bureau of Health Services, the nation's second largest public health care system.

The independent Board will be responsible for overseeing all aspects of the Bureau, including planning, hiring, firing, contracts and billing. This clearly needed change was recommended and promoted by an impressive list of invested parties - patients, physicians and nurses, community organizations, U.S. House and Senate members, State Senators and House members, and many, many independent research studies.

A nominating committee comprised of leaders from Chicago's business, civic and union communities was formed and worked hard to develop a diverse and talented list of twenty candidates for the new board. Ten people from that list have been confirmed by the County President and Board of Commissioners and will serve as the board's inaugural directors.

On Tuesday, May 20, 2008 the County Board adopted an extended governance reform ordinance which further specifies the roles, responsibilities and independence of the new Board of Directors. These are major accomplishments which, if fully realized, should result in a strong public health care system that serves the health care needs of Cook County residents without calling upon taxpayers to throw (more) good money after bad.

The new Board of Directors is a highly qualified and committed group of professionals that, in theory, now has the independence and power to lead the Bureau of Health into a new era. One way to help guarantee their success is for all those who supported this new direction to be diligent in their call for and support of a truly independent and competent staff and Board of Directors for the new Cook County Health and Hospital System.

The hundreds of thousands of residents of Cook County who depend on the Bureau of Health for their health care deserve no less.

Sidney Hollander President - Board of Directors Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

Jane Ramsey Executive Director Jewish Council on Urban Affairs

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