Monday, May 4, 2009

Cook County's new hospital chief

William T. Foley
William T. Foley was slated to start today as CEO of the Cook County Health and Hospitals System. That's the newly independent, reorganized Cook County Bureau of Health Services, the organization that runs the county's public hospitals — Stroger, Oak Forest and Provident — and other health services.

According to Crain's, Foley will be paid $500,000 a year. Chi-Town Daily News puts that in a mid-range for the job, and had some positive things to say about Foley's experience. When Foley started as president and CEO of Provena Health in Mokena in 2001, that system was operating at a $28.4 million loss. Under Foley's guidance, it grew to an operating gain of $24.5 million in 2003.

Foley's CV paints him as a turnaround expert. I hope he's as good as he looks. With already overflowing hospitals further stressed by rapidly rising numbers of uninsured Cook County residents, a deficit of so many millions of dollars that system commissioners aren't even sure how deep it goes, and the corruption and conflicts of interest that plague nearly all Illinois public agencies, he's got a huge job.

I haven't the least idea what all is involved in Foley's job. I do hope, however, that his focus will be not only on improving Cook County Health's financial picture but also on expanding its services and level of care. Too many sick people are waiting too long.

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