With new opportunities come new responsibilities

You may have noticed content has been a little light around here lately. That’s because I’ve been working on several projects for a new job. Yes, a solution to my unemployment. The same unemployment that got me writing this blog in the first place.

Beginning Wednesday, I’ll assume my duties as a reporter covering Cook County government for Chicago Current, a new newspaper with a tight focus on local politics. It’s relying on pretty much the same team that we had at the Chi-Town Daily News, and we have high hopes for the project.

That said, my focus has shifted far away from this blog, which I used to keep up with the health beat, kill time, and hopefully inform people about some of the things happening in Chicago, especially with the Cook County Health and Hospitals System.

Thank you for reading. This new job is probably the death knell of Chicago Health Beat, but I may post here occasionally. If you want to stay current with any new happenings on this blog, please follow it on Twitter (@Chicago_Health).

Thanks again. It’s been a trip.

-Alex

County health system begins delivering layoff notices

The Cook County Health and Hospitals System today announced it would eliminate more than 1,000 positions between the end of November and the beginning of January. The cuts will save an estimated $60 million, according to a press release released by CCHHS.

Employees began receiving layoff notices today. The cuts include 700 vacant positions and 335 filled positions, mostly in support roles, including food service and maintenance.

Health system leaders said last month they had identified nearly 500 positions that could be eliminated, and included those savings in its 2010 budget proposal. Its 2009 budget included provisions for 900 layoffs, while adding 450 new medical staff jobs. Continue reading

Rep. Harris holds public hearing on North Side hospital’s move to suburbs

In August, the Ravenswood-based Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch Medical Group announced it would be closing its North Side offices and heading to a new locations in Glenbrook and Skokie, with North Shore University Health System.

Rep. Greg Harris is calling for public hearings on the medical groups decision to abandon its Ravenswood location.

Rep. Greg Harris is calling for public hearing's on the medical group's decision to abandon its Ravenswood location. PHOTO: Lake Effect News

The Tribune reported:

“We need a strong partner who can weather the storm of the financial crisis,” said Dr. Leonard Cerullo, a neurosurgeon who in 1987 founded the group that operates as Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch.

“NorthShore University HealthSystem is committed to investing in the technologies and programs necessary to deliver the safest and most effective treatment options for patients suffering from brain and spine disease.”

But Ald. Gene Schulter (47th) expressed concerns about the move, and called it “disastrous” for the neighborhood.

State Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) stepped into the fray, and demanded public hearings from the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Board, according to the Illinois Observer. The first hearing took place Oct. 9. Continue reading

Cook County health board faces ire from all sides

It’s been a whirlwind year for county’s independent health system board of directors. Freed from the politics of the county board, the system hired a CEO, William Foley, that has made changes quickly, adding an executive team and proposing major changes to the way health care is delivered in Cook County; it’s in the midst of cutting about 950 positions (saving roughly $60 million), is welcoming the 21st century with a new electronic records plan and angering local businesses by engaging in a controversial purchasing plan.

For all the positive changes, there have been as many that have ticked people off. People complain the board is accountable to no one. Others say board members are nothing but political shills. Continue reading

Dose of Gross: Hospital handwashing FAIL

The LA Times writes about a study that shows hopsital workers don’t always wash their hands when working with different patients.

It wasn’t good when any of the healthcare workers skipped the soap, but it was definitely worse when the peripatetic workers failed to wash their hands, the researchers found. If a single peripatetic worker flunked the hygiene test, the spread of disease was three times worse than if a nurse or doctor did. In fact, they calculated that if just one peripatetic worker refused to wash his or her hands, the effect was the same as if ALL healthcare workers washed their hands only 77% of the time, they wrote in a study published online today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Yuck. That’s all I can say.

Dying in jail

The New York Times has a stirring photo essay on hospice programs in prisons. A growing number of elderly prisoners has spurred about 75 prisons in the country to institute hospice programs. Here is a look at one.

More geriatric prisoners are dying in jail.

More geriatric prisoners are dying in jail.

City to set up swine flu vaccine centers

So says the Tribune:

The Chicago Health Department will set up free clinics to administer vaccines for H1N1 swine flu at six City Colleges of Chicago campuses, the city’s health commissioner told a City Council committee Tuesday.

The centers will be up and running in the next few weeks.