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Former Elmhurst CEO lands at Cook County Health

Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Crain's Chicago Business
by Kristen Schorsch

W. Peter Daniels, who merged himself out of a job as CEO of Elmhurst Memorial Healthcare earlier this year, has landed a leadership role at the Cook County Health & Hospitals System.

As chief operating officer of hospital-based services, he is tasked with improving inpatient care from the emergency room to the maternity ward at the financially challenged health system. Mr. Daniels, 59, also is in charge of outpatient care at Cook County Health's two hospitals, including the 464-bed John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital on the Near West Side.

Moving from the affluent west suburban hospital, with $394.5 million in annual revenue, is likely to be a challenge for Mr. Daniels. At Cook County Health, which is more than two times bigger in revenue, he finds himself part of a management team, two levels below CEO Ramanathan Raju. While the public health system is under new pressure to improve patient satisfaction, Mr. Daniels may find a different pace compared with Elmhurst, some observers say.

“I think it's a great job for a person with that much experience to come in and help, but he'll have to defend against his own frustrations of getting things done in a timely way,” said Doug Fenstermaker, a Chicago-based vice president of health care at Warbird Consulting Partners LLC. “And clearly the politics of Cook County Hospital are enormous. There's no doubt about it.”

Mr. Daniels did not return a message to comment. He reports to Dr. John Jay Shannon, chief of clinical integration at Cook County, and shares responsibility for outpatient services with Debra Carey. Ms. Carey, who joined the system on July 1, is chief operating officer for ambulatory services and is charged in part with developing strategies for patient services, such as coordinating care.

Mr. Daniels, who started Oct. 21, arrives at a time when Cook County Health risks losing some of its low-income patients to new Medicaid managed-care networks, in which providers are paid a flat monthly fee per patient instead of billing per service.


He's one of nearly a dozen people who either joined Cook County Health or were promoted this year as a part of Dr. Raju's reorganization of senior management.

The public health system “was looking for a health care professional who had extensive experience in diverse systems, including urban and academic health centers,” a Cook County Health spokeswoman said in an email. “Mr. Daniels' success in maintaining high levels of patient satisfaction will serve us well as we seek to improve the patient experience at CCHHS.”

Before joining Elmhurst Memorial, Mr. Daniels was president and CEO of Ocean Medical Center in Brick, N.J. He joined west suburban Elmhurst in 2010, becoming CEO the following year as the hospital debuted a $450 million replacement campus.

Saddled with debt from the construction project, Elmhurst was forced to find a merger partner.

After negotiations broke down with Streeterville-based powerhouse Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, Elmhurst began talks with Edward Hospital & Health Services. Mr. Daniels resigned from Elmhurst Memorial in March before a binding deal was reached.

Elmhurst Memorial became part of Naperville-based Edward on July 1, with Edward CEO Pam Davis overseeing the combined system.

At Cook County Health, Mr. Daniels will take home a smaller paycheck with an annual salary of $240,000. At Elmhurst Memorial, he made $697,283 for the year ended June 30, 2012, which included a base salary and bonuses, according to the system's most recent tax return.

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