clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Cook County Health narrows CEO field to 12, plans to open another building at jail for COVID-19 response

Five of the 12 have already been interviewed, M. Hill Hammock, Chair of Cook County Health’s Board of Directors, said Friday.

Dr. John Jay Shannon, then CEO of the Cook County Health system, looks on as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks in 2017.
Dr. John Jay Shannon, then CEO of the Cook County Health system, looks on as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle speaks in 2017.
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

The pool of potential candidates to lead Cook County’s health apparatus has been winnowed from 150 to 12, a handful have already been interviewed, and the window to apply for the position will soon close.

“We’re impressed with the quality of the candidates their capability, their experience and are about to interview additional candidates as well so we’re on track to reach our original goal of six months to find the new CEO,” M. Hill Hammock, Chair of Cook County Health’s Board of Directors said.

Hammock gave his update on the search for a new head of the county’s $2.8 billion health operation at a Friday meeting of the full board.

Five of the 12 candidates have already been interviewed, Hammock said.

“We’re moving along briskly, and we have additional interviews scheduled and things seem to be going well there, and the board as a whole is participating actively in those interviews and those evaluations,” Hammock said.

New, potential candidates will no longer be accepted for the position in “the next week or two,” Hammock said.

Last month, Hammock said the search for a permanent CEO for the Cook County Health system was operating “on full tilt.”

The search firm tasked with finding a new leader, Heidrick and Struggles, reached out to “over 180 different sources and lists and contacts to identify potential candidates,” he said last month.

The search for a new CEO began when the board of directors decided not to renew the contract of former CEO Dr. John Jay Shannon in November, ousting him from the role and slotting Debra Carey, then the deputy CEO of the health system, as Interim CEO beginning Jan. 1, during the search for a permanent replacement.

That was the first shakeup in the upper ranks of the county’s health arm, which also saw the chief financial officer and the head of the county’s Department of Public Health ousted in recent months.

The county’s health system oversees Stroger and Provident hospitals as well as health care at Cook County Jail and other county sites. The health system also conducts a managed-care program called CountyCare.

At the Friday meeting, Carey gave an update on how the health system is handling the coronavirus.

From March 19 to May 19, the hospital has used 510,258 masks or 8,648 masks per day. There have also been 128,172 gowns used in that time frame, or 2,172 gowns per day.

The health system has used 35,120 shoe covers, which breaks down to 595 covers per day, and 46,675 hair coverings — or 791 caps over that two-month period.

At the Cook County Jail, the number detainees has risen from 4,124 in April to 4,260 in May — the Juvenile Temporary Detention Center also saw an increase, going from 170 in April to 199 this month.

The number of new detainees testing positive for the virus has decreased, dropping from 97% in March to 5% in May. Those who enter the jail are isolated and, of 34 recent detainees, 30 were found to be positive for the coronavirus during the intake process.

Additional buildings and barracks at the jail have been opened to accommodate intake housing, Carey said. Before the pandemic nine buildings were open, now, that number is 13 and next week a 14th will open.

“So what that means is, is that we are able to isolate, quarantine and provide the appropriate social distancing for the detainees,” Carey said. “And we also expect that this will continue for the foreseeable future.”