Feb 18, 2008
At the large Cook County Hospital, famous from the TV program ER, hundreds of women with serious health problems are waiting months for an appointment. This is a direct result of the 87 million dollar cut in the county health system pushed through last year by county board president Todd Stroger and passed by the Democratic Party majority on the board.
The gynecology department is now open only two half-days a week. At the end of January, there were 244 women with abnormal Pap smears and 733 women with pain, unusual bleeding or other symptoms who were waiting for appointments. A woman who had a dangerous Pap smear in September was only notified in February that she could see a gynecologist in April! In contrast, at the privately-run Advocate Lutheran General, the vast majority of women with this situation would be treated within 24 hours.
This information was provided by gynecologists talking to the Chicago Tribune. But the Cook County budget cuts also affects men and children. The number of basic medical service providers – doctors, nurses and physician’s assists – went from 101 to 44. According to Dr. Enrique Martinez, a chief medical officer for the county, the demand for basic medical care is at least two to three times greater than the county can handle.
The Cook County Board cut millions from the hospital so that local government could continue to lavish tens of millions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks on wealthy downtown developers and businessmen. And let 850,000 uninsured residents be damned!