Cook County Health looks to fill 2,000 vacancies

Chicago-based Cook County Health currently has about 5,500 employees and is looking to fill another 2,000 vacancies, according to an Aug. 29 report from WBEZ.

A majority of the retention problem is due to people quitting, according to the report. Just over one-quarter of budgeted positions are empty, and records indicate that the system continues to lose more workers to retirement, resignation and "discharges." 

As of January, patients required the longest wait to see an eye doctor, a urologist, or a plastic surgeon, among other specialties. According to the most recent data from the health system, it would take about four to six months to get an appointment. 

Cook County Health CEO Isreal Rocha Jr. told WBEZ that the health system is using temporary agency nurses to fill the shortage and is meeting the needs of patients. 

"Every hospital in America right now is relying heavier on agency than they ever have because we’ve had a tremendous shift," Mr. Rocha said. "It’s not just a Cook County Health thing."

Cook County Health human resources leaders have detailed in public meetings the difficulties they encounter while hiring people. On average, it takes four to six months to fill each position. 

Cook County Health is part of the county government and includes two hospitals, a network of city and suburban clinics, and a large Medicaid health insurance plan called CountyCare. The health system makes up nearly half of the government's proposed budget for 2023. 

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