Suffredin- For a Better Cook County  
 

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 is the second most populous county in the nation. It is the 19th largest government in the U.S.
   
     
     
     



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

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's security chief fired after review spurred by watchdog report
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

An earlier opening day: 2019 Cook County forest preserves permits go on sale Nov. 15
Thursday, November 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County opening 2019 picnic permit sales Nov. 15
Monday, November 05, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

The Cook County Land Bank looks to go commercial
Monday, November 05, 2018
RE Journal

Nov. 15 is new opening date for Cook County forest preserves permits
Monday, November 05, 2018
Daily Herald

Cook County Gun Dealer, Minimum Wage Referendums On Ballot
Monday, November 05, 2018
Patch

The Abandoned WWI Monument One Chicago Man Is Determined To Save
Friday, November 02, 2018
Chicago Patch

Cook County freed from federal oversight
Thursday, November 01, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

First-of-its-kind trauma recovery center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018
ABC 7

Northbrook opts in to Cook County paid sick leave ordinance, more uncertainty for employers, lawyer says
Monday, October 29, 2018
Cook County Record

First-of-its-kind Advocate Trauma Recovery Center serves survivors of domestic violence, hate crimes, sexual assault, gun violence in Cook County
Monday, October 29, 2018
WLS Channel 7

Cook County sheriff, CVS team up on safe prescription painkiller disposal
Saturday, October 27, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

HOPE Court, created to keep probationers out of prison, shut down amid problems
Friday, October 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Can Kaegi really reform the assessor's office?
Friday, October 26, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

MWRD, DEA partner to collect unwanted drugs Oct. 27, 2018
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

Cook County just dumped 7,500 pounds of rainbow trout into area lakes. Within a few weeks, most will be gone.
Saturday, October 20, 2018
Daily Southtown

$4.5M deal for wisdom tooth death
Friday, October 19, 2018
Chicago Daily law Bulletin

Chicago Inside Out
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Places

Special prosecutor billed Cook County nearly 50K for Van Dyke murder case
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Toni Preckwinkle, Jesus 'Chuy' Garcia agree on plan for county revenue forecasting commission
Thursday, October 18, 2018
Chicago Tribune

all news items

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