Cook County Health Board Picks ‘Candidate A’ As New CEO

Cook County Health Sign
The Cook County health system board chose a new CEO candidate Friday. The candidate will go to the Cook County Board for approval. WBEZ
Cook County Health Sign
The Cook County health system board chose a new CEO candidate Friday. The candidate will go to the Cook County Board for approval. WBEZ

Cook County Health Board Picks ‘Candidate A’ As New CEO

Nearly a year after ousting CEO Dr. Jay Shannon, the Cook County-run health system board on Friday chose its successor.

Board members voted 11 to 1 to appoint a person they called “Candidate A” with a compensation package offer they discussed in a private meeting. They did not publicly name their recommendation.

Now, because of a power shift earlier this year, the candidate goes before the Cook County Board of Commissioners for final approval.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience and hard work on this, not just today, but for the last eight months which we’ve been working on this,” board chairman Hill Hammock said during the virtual meeting on Facebook.

Board member Otis Story Sr., who is a deputy chief of staff for Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, cast the lone ‘no’ vote.

The new CEO would oversee one of the largest public health system’s in the nation amid a global pandemic that is hammering governments and hospitals financially.

Another must-have skill? Navigating local cutthroat politics.

Cook County Health is the biggest medical safety net for the poor and uninsured in Cook County. The system has two hospitals, a group of outpatient clinics and a Medicaid health insurance plan that covers more than 300,000 low-income and disabled people.

The health system’s proposed 2021 budget is $3.4 billion. It generally accounts for roughly half of the county’s overall budget, though the health system says it generates 97% of its operating revenue from patient fees and grants, among other revenue streams.

Kristen Schorsch covers public health on WBEZ’s government and politics desk. Follow her @kschorsch.