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Cook Co. hospital system says it will cut 464 jobs

Monday, October 27, 2008
Daily Herald
by Rob Olmstead

Cook County hospitals administrators Monday made good on a promise they gave last week to adjust their budget to reflect savings from positions to be eliminated in 2009.

The promise centered around a budget request in which hospital administrators said they needed about 434 new positions in order to allow the hospital to collect new revenues. Administrators said they would offset those hires by eliminating 900 other positions to be specified later.

But after meeting with some skepticism on that "trust us" pledge, hospitals administrators put some of those job cuts in writing, crafting the budget to reflect not only the 434 new jobs but some of the 900 cuts as well. While they still don't know exactly which positions will be cut, they said they were confident enough that the cuts will come that they could reflect at least a portion of the savings in their budget.

While a full cut of 464 positions (900 minus the 434 new jobs) would amount to a $35 million savings annually, administrators Monday pledged in a public meeting with county board members that they could save at least $10-12 million in 2009. The lower amount is because not all of the job cuts will be done by the beginning of the year.

After the meeting, Cook County Health and Hospitals CEO David Small told reporters that all 900 positions would be eliminated by the end of fiscal year 2009.

That is not to say that the hospitals' overall budget will decrease, however. When inflation, union contract increases and increased capital improvement costs are figured in, the hospitals are asking to increase their budget from $846 million in 2008 to $929 million in 2009. And those numbers do not reflect pension and benefits costs, which are carried on the county's main books. When those numbers are added, the cost rises to well above $1 billion annually.



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