Cook County Hospital CEO leaving for NYC post with de Blasio
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
by DAN MIHALOPOULOS
Dr. Ram Raju, the chief executive of Cook County’s $1 billion-a-year health system, is leaving after two years in that job to take a high-level appointment from newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Raju will be president of the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, that city’s public hospital system. Before coming to Chicago, he’d held high-ranking positions there.
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle had lured Raju, a surgeon, to Chicago in 2011. He was paid a base salary of $500,000 a year as CEO of the cash-strapped Cook County Health and Hospitals System. The agency accounts for about one-third of the total Cook County government budget. Tuesday morning in New York, de Blasio presented Raju as the new head of what the New York mayor described as “the largest, most complicated” municipal health-care system in the country.
“He has shown a fundamental commitment to bringing health care to people in need,” de Blasio said of Raju. “We welcome a big man for a big job. “Dr. Raju is more than ready to take on the task.”
Raju thanked de Blasio for showing confidence in him. Asked to compare the Cook County and New York City health systems, Raju said the county hospitals’ budget of roughly $1.1 billion billion is less than one-fifth the size of its New York City counterpart, which spends over $6 billion a year on health care. Raju said “the uninsured problem” in Cook County is as big a concern as in New York City.
“While I am sad to see him go, I know that his unfailing work ethic and dedication has shaped a stronger health-care system for all our residents,” Preckwinkle said. Preckwinkle said an interim CEO will be appointed by the Cook County Health and Hospitals System board, which will conduct a search for Raju’s successor. Raju’s wife and family have continued to lived in New York.