Cook County Health budget Rx: 130 layoffs, close 2 clinics, move their services to Provident Hospital
Cook County Health officials outlined plans Friday to fill a $187 million budget gap for 2021 by shuttering two clinics and moving their operations to Provident Hospital and laying off about 130 employees throughout the health care system.
Under the proposed budget, services offered at the Woodlawn and Near South Health Centers will be moved from their current locations, at 6337 S. Woodlawn Ave. and 3525 S. Michigan Ave., to Provident at 500 E 51st St., beginning Dec. 1.
No jobs are being cut because of the merger of the two clinics’ services. But 46 workers have already been laid off in other areas, with roughly another 84 facing layoffs.
Debra Carey, the system’s interim CEO, said it wasn’t “an easy task” to put together the proposed budget.
“I will also tell you that more drastic actions or options may be the only course for future budgets,” Carey said, noting that some would “suggest that we look elsewhere for expense reductions.”
“We are making decisions that need to be made to ensure our long-term viability, and without new revenues new resources, we find ourselves in a zero-sum situation,” Carey said.
Carey said she and other officials in the health system “are all ears” for ideas, but the days of only cutting “what we can live without” are over.
The system also faces “new challenges,” such as financial pressures from the pandemic, as well as the usual structural issues, such as providing 50% of the county’s charity care.
Until a solution is found for the structural deficit the county faces, “every budget moving forward will be a challenge,” Carey said.
Though the system will have to trim its budget, officials also found money for new dialysis and life centers that will be located at the Provident Hospital campus. Andrea Gibson, the system’s interim chief business officer, said “an improvement and an increase” in outpatient services was the reason behind the decision.