In his first public board meeting this morning, new Cook County
Health and Hospitals System CEO William Foley outlined his goals for
the coming year, which include hiring key key executives and boosting
performance within the hospital system.
Foley, who has endured a trial by fire in his first three weeks,
coming up to speed amid harsh criticism of the health system's
purchasing and hiring practices, discussed his three-, six- and
12-month goals for the system.
Foley said he's looking to establish an oversight office to monitor
the system's performance, as well as the performance of various
consultants helping the system improve efficiency.
"It's important to have somebody coordinating this so we don't have consultants on top of one another," he said.
The health system uses a number of consultants to monitor different
parts of the system, including productivity and its revenue cycle.
By Sept. 1, Foley expects to have hired a public relations director,
a human resources director and a compliance officer. He expects the
independent board to certify its own purchasing office, as well. The
health system has been working in tandem with the county purchasing
office since it became independent of the county board last year.
Also by September 1, Foley said the system will have an agreement
with a group purchasing organization, which provides pre-approved
vendors from which the hospital can buy supplies.
Small business owners in Cook County have decried the plan, saying
it will essentially end their ability to do business with county.
But system board chairman Warren Batts suggested this morning that
business owners should view the group purchasing plan as an opportunity.
"The puzzle to me is that (minority- and women-owned businesses)
that have been doing business with the county see this as a bad thing,"
he said. "This is a golden opportunity for them. They can increase
their business by signing up."
But business owners have complained that they don't feel group
purchasing would allow them to participate, and that the county would
not consider them for business. System officials say they would
consider local options for purchasing.
Batts said he believed group purchasing organizations would be
receptive to allowing Cook County vendors to join, since the county has
vetted them already.
"You're listening to a puzzled guy in here, wondering 'what's the problem?'" he said.
By December, Foley said, the system will have completed its staffing
reduction. The system is eliminating about 500 jobs, through layoffs
and attrition, to meet budget goals.
He also hopes to resolve the system's habit of slow payment to vendors, while growing the its revenue stream.
One board member told Foley it was important to focus on "changing
the culture of the organization," a sentiment with which Foley agreed.
"We need to focus on the quality at the system level, not the (chief
medical officer) level," he said, pointing to a need to spread the
system's message among patients and staff.
The board is looking to do just that, as it is planning a series of
town hall meetings in the county to discuss its strategic plan.
Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be
reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17, or alex [at] chitowndailynews [dot]