A New York hospital executive has been tapped to lead Cook County’s public health system, WBEZ has learned.
Israel Rocha Jr., CEO of Elmhurst and Queens hospitals in the giant NYC Health + Hospitals system, is ‘Candidate A,’ a county health system spokeswoman confirmed. That’s how the county health system board referred to their selection last month. They did not publicly name the candidate or his compensation package.
“The Board is confident in Mr. Rocha’s ability to lead CCH at this critical time in the organization and in the country,” the spokeswoman said in a statement.
Rocha has accepted the offer, but the full county board must approve the new health system CEO along with his pay. A vote is expected this month.
Rocha did not respond to a message from WBEZ. He would bring to Cook County experience running hospitals in the largest public health system in the U.S., in a city rocked by COVID-19. The NYC public health system has 11 hospitals, compared to Cook County’s two medical centers, as well as a group of community health centers, long-term care facilities and a health insurance plan.
If approved, Rocha would be the second Cook County Health CEO in nearly a decade to come from the NYC public health system.
Debra Carey has been interim CEO of Cook County Health since the county health system board nearly a year ago decided not to renew then-CEO Dr. Jay Shannon’s contract.
Cook County Health is the biggest medical safety net for the poor and uninsured in Cook County. The health system includes John H. Stroger Jr. on the Near West Side and Provident Hospital on the South Side, as well as a group of outpatient clinics and a Medicaid health insurance plan that covers more than 300,000 low-income and disabled people.
Kristen Schorsch covers public health on WBEZ’s government and politics desk. Follow her @kschorsch.