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Cook County hires beleaguered Chicago health commissioner
Dr. Terry Mason starts the job Dec. 7

Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Chicago Tribune
by Dan P. Blake and Hal Dardick

The Cook County health system has hired as its chief medical officer the city's health commissioner, a doctor whose tenure has been criticized by the state for billing problems and by Chicago's inspector general for poor record keeping.

Dr. Terry Mason starts the job Dec. 7 and will be in charge of medical policy, working with doctors to establish how health care is given in the county's vast public health system.

Mayor Richard Daley, who announced the change Wednesday, described the move as "a plus" for Chicago because Mason knows the city's medical issues. Daley did not discuss naming a new health commissioner.

Mason also leaves the Daley administration after some controversies in the last year. Mental-health advocates and patients staged a sit-in at City Hall in April after four South Side clinics were closed. Mason reopened the clinics with federal economic-stimulus funds but rehired only four of 40 laid-off workers.

In the summer, the state cut funding in half to $4.2 million, citing unresolved billing woes under Mason.

In February, Mason was hit by a city inspector general's audit that said nearly $1 million in drugs and medical supplies were spoiled or unaccounted for in a Health Department warehouse. The audit also stated record keeping was so poor that it was impossible to tell if some of the medicine was stolen.

Mason, who could not be reached for comment Wednesday, said at the time that he didn't think anything was stolen. "Every dose of vaccine, we know where it went, so none of that was wasted," he said.


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