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Stroger's hospital choice under fire
2 commissioners rip Provident selection

Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Chicago Tribune
by Mickey Ciokajlo

Two Cook County commissioners Tuesday called for public hearings to learn more about the administrator whom County Board President John Stroger has selected to run Provident Hospital.

Stroger promptly rejected the request and defended his choice of John Fairman to run the county-owned South Side facility despite questions raised about his performance in public jobs in other states.

"Unless there is something [that] comes up that we are not aware of that is more damaging than a newspaper article and the information we have, I would not withdraw Mr. Fairman," Stroger said. "We don't run government like this."

Dr. Daniel Winship, the Stroger-appointed chief of the county's Bureau of Health Services, which oversees Provident, said he is "very comfortable" with Fairman's hiring.

"I have truly vetted this man ... extensively," Winship told reporters Tuesday. "With rare exception, he gets very strong reviews."

Cook County Commissioners Forrest Claypool and Larry Suffredin said public hearings should be held to determine whether Fairman is the appropriate choice to run Provident, where serious problems recently were cited by state inspectors.

"I don't see how any patient that goes to Provident Hospital after the abuses that have been alleged and knowing that Mr. Fairman is the new head of that hospital could feel safe," Claypool said.

Stroger introduced Fairman on Monday as part of his response to the state findings that could potentially affect millions in federal funding.

At the time, Stroger praised Fairman's background as a seasoned administrator with experience at public hospitals in Washington, D.C., Houston and Denver.

Published reports, however, show Fairman was fired in 1990 from Denver's public hospital and dismissed in 2000 from the agency that oversaw the public health care system in Washington.

Both firings came amid allegations of mismanagement and questionable spending.

In Houston, a grand jury investigated allegations of fraud in the health care system there, but Fairman was never indicted, according to a 2001 report in the Rocky Mountain News.

Stroger and Winship said they were aware of the published reports on Fairman's background.

But they said after talking with contacts in each city and learning more details of the different situations they were convinced he had done nothing wrong and that he would be a good fit for Cook County.

According to his resume, Fairman has been running his own consulting company, the Fairman Group Inc., since 2000.

He is the brother of J.W. Fairman, who is the chief of the Bureau of Public Safety within the Stroger administration.

Commissioner Mike Quigley, also a candidate for County Board president, criticized Stroger's choice of John Fairman to run the facility.

"We should have had a national blue ribbon team do a search for the absolute best and brightest," Quigley said. "Not a quick, overnight, `Geez, we're in trouble. ... Let's hire somebody; we know his brother.' It's just not the way you do business."



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