Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

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:  
   
 
 

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

   
 

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

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



County hires law firm to explain health plan

Monday, April 11, 2011
SouthtownStar
by Phil Kadner

Cash-strapped Cook County has hired a private law firm to convince the state it must close Oak Forest Hospital.

Last month, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board stunned county health officials by announcing its intention to keep the county-run hospital open.

Cook County Health and Hospital Systems had no contingency plan in place to keep Oak Forest running beyond June 1.

Facing a devastating setback to its long-term strategic plan, Cook County’s independent health and hospitals board hired the law firm of Holland and Knight at “up to $60,000” to represent it before the state planning agency.

Listed as one of the firm’s partners on the Holland and Knight website is Anne M. Murphy, former chief counsel for the Illinois Department of Health and former general counsel to the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board.

The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board was known as the Health Facilities Planning Board before pay-to-play scandals during the Rod Blagojevich administration resulted in the agency changing its name and its rules.

It is now illegal to lobby members of the state health board, who must approve plans to open or close hospitals in Illinois.

I telephoned Murphy and she confirmed she would be acting as a consultant to Cook County and likely represent it before the state panel.

The state health planning agency does not have its own full-time staff but uses members of the Illinois Department of Health staff, where Murphy also served as legal counsel.

It was the staff of the Illinois Department of Health that initially recommended that the state agency turn down the county’s plan to close Oak Forest, contending that nearby hospitals did not have the capacity to take on the resulting patient load.

Department of Health staffers also called into question the county’s schedule for creating a new intermediate care facility to serve the south suburbs.

William Foley, the CEO for the county’s health systems board, has since announced his intention to step down, claiming that his decision had nothing to do with the state’s rejection of his health plan.

The Cook County Health and Hospitals board operates Stroger, Provident and Oak Forest Hospitals.

It has been cutting services at Oak Forest Hospital for years and has relocated all but five of its long-term patients.

Due to its multimillion-dollar budget shortfall, the county claims it can no longer fund all three hospitals and has recommended closing Oak Forest Hospital and replacing it with a regional treatment center offering outpatient care in a number of medical specialties.

Oak Forest would no longer offer inpatient care.

After the state panel told Cook County last month it intended to deny its request to shutter Oak Forest, I was curious as to what authority the state had to make sure the hospital continued to offer quality services if it remained open.

How could it stop Cook County from cutting some more, or simply eliminating all funding to the hospital?

A spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Health sent me a copy of a state statute that reads:

“Any person establishing, constructing, or modifying a health care facility or portion thereof without obtaining a required permit, or in violation of the terms of the required permit, shall not be eligible to apply for any necessary operating licenses or be eligible for payment by any State agency for services rendered in that facility or portion thereof until the required permit is obtained.”

Another section of the rules allows for fines of $10,000 for each 30-day period of a violation of the statute.

Of course, Cook County has already essentially gutted Oak Forest without the state imposing any of those penalties.

What I found more interesting was a statement from the spokeswoman for the Health Facilities and Services Review Board about the likelihood that it would eventually refuse to close Oak Forest.

“The board historically has not pushed for a complete denial of an application to discontinue services,” stated Melaney Arnold.

“In the past, the board has issued a permit, but only with conditions that specifically address medical needs of the community.”

As I read that, Cook County merely has to offer a plan to address the concerns already brought up by the state and it will get its permit to close the hospital.

Cook County health officials, however, have said they must first close Oak Forest in order to come up with the money to offer health care programs to the south suburbs.

I don’t know what this private law firm is going to do to help the county, which already has lawyers on its payroll.

It seems strange that they can explain better than county health officials how the county health plan is going to actually help people.



Recent Headlines

Top prosecutor Kim Foxx apologizes as 18 convictions linked to corrupt cop vacated
Monday, September 24, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Preteens out of detention before trial under new ordinance
Friday, September 14, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Board bars detention of youth under 13 years old
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Injustice Watch

Preteens accused of crimes won't be locked up at Cook County juvenile center
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Slowik: Cook County offers residents last chance to comment on strategic plan
Thursday, September 13, 2018
Daily Southtown

Settlement over Cook County's 2007 decision to cut inmates' dental care will cost nearly $5.3 million
Wednesday, September 12, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Anti-patronage Shakman pact requiring federal oversight of Cook County hiring, firing to end
Friday, August 31, 2018
Chicago Tribune

1st District upholds merit board in firing of deputy
Thursday, August 30, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Neighborhood program helps Cook County residents buy homes
Sunday, August 26, 2018
Chicago Sun-Times

Judge upholds Cook County firearm, ammunition taxes
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Editorial: E-filing should make Cook County courts more accessible. It doesn't
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Cook County tax incentive could pave way for Wingstop, Dunkin' Donuts on Elgin's Summit Street
Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Editorial: What happened to the elk?
Friday, August 10, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Wells Fargo to offer $15,000 grants to potential Cook County homebuyers
Thursday, August 09, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Suit alleges Cook County detainees secretly monitored in bathrooms in holding cells at courthouses
Wednesday, August 08, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Half the elk at Busse Woods died last year, and officials aren’t sure why
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

A letter from Dr. Jay Shannon regarding gun violence and Stroger Hospital
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

As Evanston adapts to minimum wage hike, nearby towns say they have no plan to join in
Tuesday, August 07, 2018
Chicago Tribune

Lawsuit could blast a $250 million hole in county budget
Monday, August 06, 2018
Crain's Chicago Business

Pappas: Automatic refunds of $19.5 million going to 53,000 homeowners because of property tax cuts
Monday, August 06, 2018
Special to suffredin.org

all news items

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