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Cook County hospital board names Mason interim CEO

Friday, March 25, 2011
Chicago Tribune
by Erica Slife

The Cook County Health and Hospital System Board of Directors today named Dr. Terry Mason as the interim chief executive of the county's independent public health system.

The appointment of Mason, the current chief medical officer of the county hospital system, took place at an emergency meeting after CEO William T. Foley resigned Thursday. Foley, 60, accepted a job overseeing Chicago region hospitals for the Vanguard Health Systems.

"I'm extremely honored that the board would see that I have what they think is needed to take the rudder of this ship forward," Mason said of the appointment. "It's not something I thought I would be doing at this point in my career."

Mason, 59, has overseen the medical care of patients in county hospitals since 2009. Before that, he was commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health.

Mason's tenure at the city was criticized by the state for billing problems and by Chicago's inspector general for poor record keeping.

Mental-health advocates and patients staged a sit-in at City Hall after four South Side clinics were closed. Mason reopened the clinics with federal economic-stimulus funds. The state also cut funding in half to $4.2 million, citing unresolved billing woes under Mason.

In February 2009, 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 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.

Mason is a board-certified urologist and has practiced for 25 years. He hosts a radio talk show, Doctor in the House, which airs on WVON-AM 1690 each week.

The appointment as interim CEO is effective May 6, the day Foley officially steps down. County officials say they'll conduct a nationwide search for a permanent replacement.



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