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Work on new Provident Hospital put on hold until system finds new CEO

The decision is related to Cook County Health seeking a new CEO after Dr. John Jay Shannon was ousted in November.

Provident Hospital of Cook County
Work on a new Provident Hospital will be postponed until Cook County Health selects a new chief executive.
Sun-Times file photo

Construction of a new Provident Hospital on the South Side has been put on hold until Cook County finds a new top health official, because “a project of this magnitude requires strong leadership.”

Hill Hammock, chair of the Cook County Health system’s board, sent a memo to other health officials informing them that the plans to build a new hospital would be paused until the search for a new CEO was finished, Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said.

The Board of Cook County Health voted in November to oust Dr. John Jay Shannon, the CEO of the county’s health arm.

All 10 members present at that meeting voted not to renew Shannon’s contract, which expired Dec. 31.

The proposed new hospital is to include 42 medical and surgical beds, six beds in the intensive care unit, eight operating rooms and two procedure rooms, diagnostic radiology and cardiovascular imagery, an 18-bay emergency department and 70 outpatient exam rooms.

Suffredin said the pause will give commissioners and the health system time to figure out the impact of a planned merger of four hospitals on the city’s South Side.

In an email to county commissioners, Hammock said hitting pause on the program the project needed strong leadership.

“A project of this magnitude requires strong leadership oversight,” Hammock’s email reads in part. “The new CEO will need to evaluate factors such as the significant and growing increase in charity care and the impact on CCH’s finances. In addition, the new CEO will need to factor in potential changes in the hospital environment on the south side and the financial impact on Provident, particularly in light of last week’s announcement that four hospitals on the south side plan to consolidate and develop new hospital(s) and clinic facilities.”

Board president Toni Preckwinkle voiced her support of the health system and agreed the plans should be “informed by the new CEO once she/he is determined.”

The decision to postpone the Provident project was first reported by WBEZ.

In a statement, Cook County Health spokeswoman Caryn Stancik said “the health system board believes that a project of this magnitude requires strong leadership. The board believes it is prudent to pause the project until a new CEO is named and he/she has the opportunity to become fully briefed in order to direct this project to a successful completion. The demolition of the former (vacant) outpatient building to the west of the current Provident will continue as planned.”