ONE OF THE LARGEST PUBLIC HEALTH SYSTEMS IN THE COUNTRY
In 1835, four years after Cook County Government was incorporated, the first health service, the Public Alms House for the poor, was established. In 1991, the Cook County Board created the hospital, an innovative, cost-efficient system of integrated healthcare. Today, it is the second largest division of Cook County Government and one of the largest public health systems in the country.
Serving a population of more than five million people spread over a sprawling area poses logistical challenges to ensuring access to all those in need of services. As part of its strategic plan, the Bureau focuses on the dual strategy of bringing health care into vulnerable communities by opening a network of neighborhood health centers throughout the city and suburbs while simultaneously building a new Hospital to serve as the hub of the system’s inpatient services.
The Bureau’s seven affiliates include the Ambulatory and Community Health Network of Cook County, Cermak Health Services of Cook County, Cook County Department of Public Health, The Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center, John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County, Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County, and Provident Hospital of Cook County. The scope of healthcare services provided ranges from preventive and primary care, prenatal care, communicable diseases, and environmental health to long-term care, rehabilitation and geriatric medicine. The Bureau is a leader in innovative health programs that target those diseases and conditions that disproportionately impact the populations that it serves asthma, diabetes, HIV AIDS, trauma, cancer, high risk pregnant women and babies.
The Bureau now operates 30 community health centers. They are located in community, school and hospital based settings in underserved areas of Chicago and suburban Cook County. The Bureau has decentralized specialty services throughout the system so that it is easier for patients to receive care, stay healthy and not wait to seek care until they are so ill that they need to come into a hospital.
Therefore the Bureau recognizes its obligation not only to create a more effective internal system, but also to facilitate the development of a more integrated healthcare network throughout Cook County.
The Bureau has developed collaborations with other healthcare providers with the goal of expanding services at the neighborhood level while eliminating costly duplication.
These partnerships have increased primary care capacity for indigent patients, established community delivery sites for low-risk mothers, and expanded the access of specialty care services offered by the Bureau to community providers.
Current hospital partnerships include Bethany Hospital, Jackson Park Hospital, Northwest Community Hospital, Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center, Saint Anthony Hospital, Saint Elizabeth Hospital, Saint James Hospital and Thorek Hospital. The Bureau has also established working relationships with such public sector partners as the Chicago Department of Public Health, federally funded community health centers and the Veteran’s Administration. All of these relationships have allowed the Bureau to more successfully meet its mission.