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Staff Reductions Fall Short of Mark

Friday, July 30, 2010
Chicago News Cooperative
by Katie Fretland

Despite facing a $42 million shortfall in patient revenue, the Cook County Health and Hospitals System has laid off only 100 workers out of the 1,350 positions that administrators promised to eliminate this fiscal year.

A six-month status report shows 665 vacant positions and 335 filled positions that have been eliminated. But of the filled positions, only about 100 workers were actually laid off.

“I don’t understand how you’re going to make this up by the end of the fiscal year,” said Tony Peraica, a member of the Cook County Board.

Michael Ayres, the health system’s chief financial officer, and William T. Foley, the chief executive, blamed labor agreements for the shortfall and promised additional staff reductions in August.

Mr. Ayres said that senior staff members had “bumping rights” — they can fill the positions of junior employees — and that “they moved into vacant positions that the hospital felt were necessary to maintain.”

The health system oversees three hospitals as well as the county’s Health Department, a network of clinics, medical services for jail inmates and a center for H.I.V. and AIDS patients. It has 6,000 employee positions.



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