Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, CCHHS CEO Dr. Terry Mason discuss plans for Oak Forest Hospital
Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Cook County Health and Hospital System (CCHHS) Dr. Terry Mason held a press conference Wednesday afternoon to discuss upcoming plans for Oak Forest Hospital. In light of the decision by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board, CCHHS will begin today the process of a modified plan of operations for Oak Forest Hospital. Oak Forest Hospital will continue to operate a 24/7 emergency room. To help alleviate some strain on their Emergency Department, Oak Forest will be adding a clinic adjacent to the Emergency Room to help serve patients and refill prescriptions. “We anticipate that more than half the Emergency Department patients will be able to use that new clinic as opposed to waiting the Emergency Room,” said Dr. Mason. The Hospital will operate a reduced Medical Unit with continued services, but will suspend ICU, Acute Rehab and Surgery. Currently, there are four long term care patients that will be transferred into the Medical/Surgery Unit. As of June 1st, there are 20 patients at Oak Forest Hospital. The anticipated cost of continuing inpatient care is nearly $2 million a month. Both Preckwinkle and Mason emphasized their commitment to the Strategic Plan and the transformation of the Oak Forest Campus into a Regional Outpatient Center. “Despite the Board’s decision, I remain committed to the comprehensive Vision 2015 Strategic Plan to provide quality medical services to Cook County residents. The transition of Oak Forest Hospital to the Regional Health Center at Oak Forest allows the facility to expand the services it offers and add primary care doctors to better serve the people of the south suburbs. On a broader level, these changes contribute to the sustainability of our County’s Health and Hospitals System,” said Preckwinkle. The plan to transform Oak Forest Hospital into a Regional Outpatient Center (ROC) was submitted to the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board for approval. The plan was denied on May 12, 2011. Currently the nine-member board has three vacancies and two members sitting on expired terms. In order to win approval, the action would have needed five votes. Five of the six members were present for the proposal; four voted in favor of the CCHHS proposal, only one against. Preckwinkle said that she had discussed the importance of filling the vacancies with the Governor on several occasions, beginning as early as January and had submitted recommendations for appointments. The President stressed that the CCHHS would resubmit a proposal to the Board that would now include provisions for a 24/7 urgent care center located at the Oak Forest Campus. Preckwinkle said this was a concern that came from speaking with community residents throughout the Southland. “I’ve always said that as a public official you have two key responsibilities – to do the right thing and to explain to people why what you’re doing is the right thing. Quite simply - the health care system hasn’t done a good enough job explaining what the strategic plan would really mean to residents. We need to do a better job of reaching out to the communities through the southland to ensure that we are engaging in direct dialogue to effectively articulate our plans.” As a result, Preckwinkle announced the creation of a Southland Health Advisory Council. Composed of faith and community leaders, the Council will help ensure a dialogue with residents about the provision of effective health care in the region. “We are fully committed to engaging all stakeholders and making sure that southland residents are thoroughly informed of our plans to expand their access to preventative and specialty care, and that they are well aware of how to utilize the system.” As a result, we have committed to the creation of a Southland Health Advisory Council within the next 30 days. Composed of faith and community leaders, the Council will help ensure a dialogue with residents about the provision of effective health care in the region. We are fully committed to engaging all stakeholders and making sure that southland residents are thoroughly informed of our plans to expand their access to preventative and specialty care, and that they are well aware of how to utilize the system.