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Preckwinkle hospital board shakeup leads to resignation

Monday, June 18, 2012
Chicago Tribune
by Hal Dardick

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle’s shakeup of the hospital board has led a member to leave.

Benn Greenspan, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, submitted his resignation Friday, citing “dismay” at changes Preckwinkle is making to the Health and Hospitals System board. Attempts to reach Greenspan for comment Monday were not successful.

Last week, Preckwinkle named four new directors, choosing not to reappoint board Chairman Warren Batts and director David Ansell. She also picked a replacement for a third director not seeking reappointment and a fourth who, like Greenspan, resigned one year early.

Greenspan’s resignation gives Preckwinkle a fifth appointment to the 11-member board that oversees the county's vast public health system.

All of the replacements have been selected from a list of candidates submitted by a nominating committee set up four years ago, amid criticism of Preckwinkle predecessorTodd Stroger. That’s when the hospital board was created to separate politics from policy at the financially troubled system that accounts for nearly a third of $3 billion in yearly county spending.

On Monday, Preckwinkle said today that she chose to “make some changes and bring in a crew of people who were more diverse and brought a different set of skills and experiences and expertise to the board.”

She said that although she backed Dr. Terry Mason when he won his post as interim Health and Hospitals CEO last year, she did not express a preference when the board later picked Dr. Ramanathan Raju as the person to permanently hold the job.

“He has been wonderful,” Preckwinkle said, referring to Raju. “I usually describe him as a godsend. This is a tough time for our system, and I can’t imagine anybody who is better qualified to lead our system than he is.”

Batts, meanwhile, said he initially told Preckwinkle he planned to leave, but then changed his mind when Raju asked him to stay on two more years. By then, Preckwinkle had picked his replacement, Batts said.



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