Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle together with Dr. Ramanathan Raju, CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System, local elected officials and dozens of community leaders joined to unveil the first phase of the re-development of the E Building on the Oak Forest Campus as part of the planned transition to the Oak Forest Health Center.
The construction will pave the way for more effective, patient-centered services, creating the opportunity for more screenings and tests with new state of the art equipment for diagnostic imaging, expanded cardiology care and urology, and an increase in outpatient psychiatry services. Not only are primary care services expanding, but new equipment such as X-ray machines, CT scans, and mammography screening equipment are also included in the construction plans.
“This is the first step towards ensuring that everyone in this community has access to the care they need,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “This project is going to raise the level of outpatient care for residents, strengthen the financial health of the County’s vital hospital system and, most importantly, uphold a promise made by the County, the Health and Hospitals System and the Board of Commissioners to the residents of this community.”
On September 1, 2011, the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board approved the County’s Health and Hospital System’s (CCHHS) plan, supported by President Preckwinkle, to transform Oak Forest Hospital into a regional outpatient clinic with a 24-hour urgent care facility. In December of 2011, Cook County and CCHHS began the planning for the first phase of the redevelopment. The project was bid and awarded in July 2012, and construction is anticipated to end near the end of this year – a timeline that President Preckwinkle laid out to residents and community groups and numerous public forums last year.
“The Phase 1 development of the Oak Forest Health Center is a re-affirmation of our commitment to the Oak Forest community and to the Southland,” said Dr. Raju, CEO, Cook County Health and Hospitals System. “I would like to extend a sincere thank you to President Preckwinkle for her continued support, and to our current and future partners and providers. We look forward to working with you to keep the southland healthy and to make sure that our neighbors, the residents in this community have access to quality care they need.”
The move to convert Oak Forest Hospital into a regional health center is part of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System strategic plan, Vision 2015. The plan, which was approved by the CCHHS Board of Directors and the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 2010, moves the system away from costly inpatient care and into much more needed outpatient services into the community.