CEO William Foley to step down as head of Cook County Health & Hospitals SystemCook County Board President Preckwinkle pledges commitment to long-term strategic reform plan
Friday, March 25, 2011
Special to suffredin.org
Cook County Health & Hospitals System CEO William T. Foley announced today that he is stepping down as head of the nation’s third-largest public healthcare system.
Foley was an integral part of a turn-around that resulted in less reliance on County tax dollars and an increase in access to patient services. Foley is leaving the County to pursue an opportunity in the private sector.
He said on Thursday that he regrets having to leave the County and is proud of his achievements during his tenure.
"I want to express my gratitude to the independent health system Board and County leadership for all their support turning my time here. I am very confident that with the strong leadership in place we will continue to move forward,” he said.
During Foley’s tenure, the County taxpayer subsidy of the Health & Hospitals System was reduced from $410 million to $273 million. Patient access was also improved with the addition of weekend hours at County clinics and a new appointment policy to reduce wait times.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Foley deserves credit for helping implement a comprehensive strategic plan that put the Cook County Health & Hospitals System on a path to reform.
“We knew Mr. Foley from his reputation as a turn-around expert. He was brought on during a difficult time and we saw improvements as a result of the initiatives he brought to the fore. The health system has started to perform better financially. Mr. Foley also played a key role in implementing a strong culture of accountability,” she said.
The Cook County Health & Hospitals System Board of Directors will convene a special meeting tomorrow (Friday) to appoint an interim Chief Executive Officer by May 6th.
A nationwide search for a new CEO will begin immediately.
Warren Batts, Chairman of the Cook County Health & Hospitals System, said he wanted to personally thank Foley for all of his efforts.
“Under his leadership we were able to accomplish a number of significant changes that improved access for our patients while making sure we stayed fiscally responsible. The Board is committed to moving the strategic plan forward and finding ways to provide care to as many people who need it,” Batts said.
Finance Chairman John Daley said the system’s strategic plan provides the Board with an important roadmap that they must follow under new leadership.
“I have confidence in the independent health board and their ability to supervise the County’s health and hospital system. The members of this board are guided by a plan that was approved by the Board of Commissioners in July 2010 and it needs to be carefully adhered to if we are going to see continued improvements in the health system,” he said.
Cook County Commissioner Jerry Butler, who also serves on the Cook County Health System Board, said the system’s remaining leadership will be a tremendous asset during the transition period.
“During the interim, I know we can count on the strength of our personnel, the system and the strategic plan to continue to improve the health and hospital system. We have an independent board in place that is well-suited to manage a transition in leadership. We are also going to start an aggressive search process to identify a strong administrator and leader who can step up and ensure that our residents continue to receive critical health care services.”
Preckwinkle said that continuity of services will be a priority as the Board seeks a new system CEO.
“The County plays a very important role in providing medical care to the many thousands of people who cannot afford to pay for it themselves. Mr. Foley put in place a strong management and administrative team and these individuals are going to play a critical role in the coming weeks and months,” she said.
“During this transition period, that safety net on which our communities rely will remain firmly in place and I know that the independent governing board will move in an expedited, but thorough manner to put in place a new CEO for our Health & Hospitals System.”