Suffredin- An Advocate for All of Us  

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:  

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


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

  Eighteen of the 20 largest banks in the world and more than 50 foreign banks have offices in Cook County.

Doctors stiffing Cook County

Friday, August 09, 2013
Chicago Sun-Times/BGA
by Andy Shaw

Is there a doctor in the house?

Not always in Cook County’s sprawling health-care system, which is one of the largest government-run networks in the country, with two hospitals, 16 neighborhood clinics, 1,100 doctors and, in any given year, 300,000 mostly indigent patient

That’s a lot of vulnerable people.

A quarter of the system’s nearly billion-dollar operating budget comes from Chicago-area taxpayers, with state and federal funding covering much of the rest.

That’s a lot of our money.

But a lengthy Better Government Association investigation raises serious questions about whether patients and taxpayers have been shortchanged, mainly because of grossly inadequate staff oversight.

We’re not talking about the hacks and slackers who perpetrate most of the county scandals.

This one focuses in large part on doctors who earn up to $500,000 a year and qualify for lucrative public-sector pensions, but don’t necessary give taxpayers or patients a day’s work for a day’s pay.

Over the past year the BGA tracked the comings and goings of several county doctors — all with outside practices in addition to their public-sector jobs — and found one of them was at his side job or at home on various occasions when he was scheduled to be working at county-run Stroger Hospital on Chicago’s West Side.

Another physician rarely swiped a county identification card as required, so it was hard to determine whether the doctor was working a requisite number of hours.

And this, we’re told by reliable insiders, is just the tip of the iceberg.

County physicians are paid to work a set number of hours each week. Some are full-time, others part-time. Some have private practices or privileges at other hospitals. Some do rounds at a county hospital one day, and county clinics another.

But unlike most of the 6,000 staff members who have to swipe in and out daily on electronic keypads, doctors swipe their ID cards only once, so there’s no easy way to monitor their comings and goings.

And on days the docs forget to swipe, or are in the field and can’t, they’re supposed to fill out “no punch” forms with the hours they actually worked.

But frequently the forms aren’t completed, and hardly anyone cracks down, so absences often don’t have consequences.

Sources also relayed stories about other medical personnel, including nurses, swiping in for one another to cover their absences.

During our inquiry, county officials launched a parallel investigation, which led to the firing of one doctor, the reprimanding of another, and the distribution of memos reminding all employees to swipe and all supervisors to start accounting for subordinates.

County Board president Toni Preckwinkle also added a BGA board member to the system’s governing commission.

Those are commendable steps, but we don’t know of a single supervisor who was held accountable for past oversight failures.

And county medical officials are still talking about a new timekeeping system with biometrics to halt the mass swipe-ins — thumb, palm or facial recognition — but so far it’s just talk.

So the proof of Preckwinkle’s commitment to actually reforming such a large, unwieldy bureaucracy will be down the road, when we can ask: “Is there a doctor in the house?”

And feel relatively confident the answer is “yes.”

Recent Headlines

Measles Exposure Reported in Chicago
Monday, May 20, 2019

News from the Cook County Health System
Friday, May 17, 2019
Special to

Cook County Health Recognizes Mental Health Awareness Month
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Daily Herald

Skokie plans for road improvements near Edens Expressway: 'It’s desperately needed'
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Skokie Review

5 Chicago hospitals earn D grades for patient safety in new report, Northwestern slips to a B
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Chicago Daily Law Bulletin: Backward Glances
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Chicago Daily Law Bulletin

Cook County Eliminated Its Gang Database, But Advocates Say Harm Continues
Wednesday, May 15, 2019

New Cook County Housing Authority Proposal Targets the 'Missing Middle'
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Evanston RoundTable

Census Citizenship Question Could Hurt Citizens, Noncitizens Alike
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

News from Friends of the Forest Preserves
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Special to

Cook County commissioners get earful about soon-to-be-destroyed gang database
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Detainee dies days after suicide attempt at Cook County jail
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Curious City How Chicago Women Created The World’s First Juvenile Justice System
Monday, May 13, 2019
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio

Cook County report: Sharp drop in jail population, but crime did not jump
Friday, May 10, 2019
Injustice Watch

Will Cook County be home to the next big measles outbreak? Researchers think so.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

May is Prime Time for Birding in the Forest Preserves of Cook County
Thursday, May 09, 2019
Special to

More Babies Are Illegally Abandoned Than Turned Over Through Illinois’ Safe Haven Law In Cook County
Thursday, May 09, 2019
CBS Chicago

Empty businesses may lose county tax incentives
Wednesday, May 08, 2019
Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle

As new DCFS report highlights failures, Cook County guardian says 'inept' child welfare agency is ‘not doing its job ... at every level’
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Cook County passes bill to stop discrimination against tenant applicants
Tuesday, May 07, 2019
Chicago Crusader

all news items

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