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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says coronavirus likely to have ‘profound impact’ on county’s hospital system

Tuesday, March 31, 2020
Chicago Tribune
by John Byrne

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle expects “a profound impact” on the county hospital system’s budget as doctors stop performing profitable elective procedures in order to make more room for coronavirus sufferers.

The number of people without health insurance who need expensive intensive care is also expected to go way up in coming weeks, further hurting the bottom line for the Chicago area’s safety net health system, Preckwinkle said Tuesday.

“For our health and hospital system, we receive the most compensation for the elective surgeries that we do,” Preckwinkle said.

Those are being halted because beds at Stroger Hospital and elsewhere are going to be needed as the number of patients with COVID-19 spikes. How much it will hit the budget is unclear, Preckwinkle said.

“I can’t tell you how much of a financial impact it will have, because we don’t know how long the pandemic will prohibit us from doing elective surgeries,” she said.

Meanwhile, Preckwinkle said the county medical staff remains concerned about the number of virus cases at the Cook County Jail, where a field hospital has been set up in an area where boot camp sentences used to be carried out.

“The jail’s a petri dish,” Preckwinkle said, adding that she continues to work with Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Chief Judge Tim Evans to lower the head count in the jail so fewer people inside are exposed to the disease. There are about 5,000 inmates now, Preckwinkle said, and there could be about a thousand more non-violent offenders eligible for release soon.

Twitter @_johnbyrne

 

 



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