Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  Cook County was created on January 15, 1831 and named after Daniel P. Cook, Member of Congress and the first Attorney from the State of Illinois.
   
     
     
     



For Former Corporate Chief, County Health Job Is Eye-Opener

Monday, November 09, 2009
The Chicago Current
by Alex Parker

When Warren Batts, a retired executive with companies ranging from Tupperware to Premark International, was nominated last year to lead the newly formed Cook County Health and Hospitals System board of directors, he wasnít sure it would be a good fit.

But since becoming chairman, he has moved to cut patronage, pushed for greater efficiency and embarked on an aggressive search for new revenue. He spoke to the Current about what lies ahead for the hospital system.

Q: You spent your entire career in the private sector. How does government work differ?


This is my first up close and personal dealing with a political body. Itís a different world. 

Itís harder to get things done, and you have a county president and 17 commissioners, and each one has a very strong opinion on any subject we deal with. 

Overall, up to this point, in spite of criticism from different directions, the county commissioners have been supportive of what we try to get done.

Commissioner (Jerry) Butler is my adviser and counselor on how not to screw up too badly. Only once I didnít follow (his advice), and it turned out he was right. 

When you know you donít know, itís best to find somebody you know and trust to guide you. And thatís what Iíve done.

The board consists of a lot of people who really know health care in Illinois, and theyíve been giving me good advice as I go along.

PR-wise, Iíve been a disaster because Iíve literally learned legally what I can say, should say and should not say. Iím having to learn a whole new game as to what you can say when, so Iíve become a little more subdued in the meetings, and less of a loose cannon, and hopefully constructive.

Itís just a learning process for me, but by the time (the boardís three-year tenure) is over, I might be pretty good at it.

Q: What have been the independent health boardís biggest accomplishments in the last year and a half?

I think itís more getting headed in the right direction in a relatively short time. 

After all, this board, except for me, all have regular jobs, and theyíve given a huge amount of their time to make this thing happen.

Weíve got a first-class management team in place. 

We will have our own general ledger online which will greatly improve our financial reporting system. ÖWeíll get better information, so we can actually hold people accountable for what theyíve been doing. Weíve joined the group purchasing organization, which, when we get it in full swing, will save us about $20 million a year. 

Weíre continually looking for ways to operate efficiently. The more efficiently we operate, the more services we can provide.

Q: The health board held a series of town hall meetings in the summer, and again last month to discuss changes to the health system. There were some pretty heated reactions. Did the public reaction to some ideas, such as ending in-patient services at Provident and Oak Forest hospitals, surprise you?

The same people who show up at these meetings tend to be pretty consistent.

You have the unions representing the workers, you have a few patients with individual situations, you have some community people, and that pattern doesnít change in the meetings. 

And I think people are going to be surprised that we do listen to what theyíre saying. We do have consultants, but consultants are consultants.

We have to make the decisions.

There isnít more and more to spend, and that part hasnít been absorbed (by the public) yet, and I donít think it will be. 

I hope they appreciate when we get through this that we are listening and adjusting accordingly Öto make sure we donít abandon any group of people that needs our help. We are the safety net, and we canít let that safety net disappear or weaken.

Q: What do you see as the health systemís biggest challenges?

Short term, we have to get our 2010 budget approved. Thatís under way. 

The second thing is weíve got to pin down our strategy and our three-year financial plan, and we plan to have a five-year plan. Ö Any major change is going to take three years, at least.

The great unknown we face is what will be the affect of the health care bill coming out of Congress. As Warren Buffett says, this is not health care reform, this is adding more people to the Medicare rolls and figuring out how to pay for it.

If theyíre all signed up on Medicaid tomorrow, will they keep coming to (Stroger Hospital)? And my sense is if theyíre going to have to stand in line all day versus going to a local hospital and waiting for an hour, theyíre going to vote with their feet. So we have to increase our patient orientation immediately to be attractive to people who have Medicare, Medicaid and public insurance, et cetera.

Q: What will success ultimately look like for the independent board?

If we can accomplish the operating goals, if the board can be at least extended, hopefully made permanent, so itís not a game of letís wait the board out and resist what management is trying to accomplish, that would be ideal.

We have a strategy, and our financial plan has been approved by the commissioners, and we have a first-class management team in place. 

We have information systems that actually have accurate information.

If we can get a supply chain system working, where weíre getting (supplies) at competitive prices on a regular basis and still meet the (minority- and women-owned business) goal the best we can, and we continue to educate and hold responsible the management of the organization.

That will not be all done at the end of our time (in 2011), but it will be under way.


Recent Headlines

Judge: Labor unions don't owe non-union state workers refunds, despite unconstitutional fees
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Cook County record

Recovery Behind Bars: Cook County Jailís Opioid Treatment Program
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Medill Reports

The language of justice: Court interpreters fight for client rights and their rights in Cook County
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Medill Reports

Cook County General Hospital's $90-Million Redevelopment Saves a Chicago Icon
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Engineering News Rec ord

Preckwinkle sends out harassment survey to staff after harassment controversy in her office
Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Illinois Land Title Association Granted Summary Judgment in Case against Cook County Recorder of Deeds
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Illinois State Bar Association

Grand Jury Indicts Debt Collector of Bribing Cook County Clerk Dorothy Brown
Friday, March 15, 2019
WBBM Chicago

Indictment: Cook County's hired debt collector charged with bribing county officials to secure county contract
Friday, March 15, 2019
Cook County record

Karen Chavers Honored as 2019 Unsung Heroine
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Special to suffredin.org

Pappas to announce deadline for Cook County property owners to pay late taxes
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Courts Cause Confusion For Woman Trying To Resolve Her Case
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
CBS Chicago

Census changes raise fears of Illinois undercounting
Monday, March 11, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Sheriff Warns of Apple Phone Scam
Monday, March 11, 2019
WTTW News

Caller poses as Apple to get victims personal info in scam targeting Cook County residents
Monday, March 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

Should Young Adults Be Sent To Juvenile Courts?
Sunday, March 10, 2019
NPR Radio

Cook County Jail hires 2nd consecutive mental health professional as warden
Wednesday, March 06, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Lawsuit: Sheriff jailed dozens because of faulty electronic monitoring devices
Monday, March 04, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Woman dies while in custody at Cook County Jail
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Fox 32

City considers landmarking old Cook County Hospital
Friday, March 01, 2019
Gazette Chicago

Judge: State constitution doesn't force Cook County to spend $250M more on roads, transport projects
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Cook County Rrecord

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP