Cook County Rounds: New Health Access Program for Uninsured, New Outpatient Building Coming Soon

After a two-year effort, the Healthy Communities Cook County coalition (HC3), (of which Doctors Council is a member) has successfully advocated to the Cook County board for the creation of a new program that will help uninsured Cook County residents gain access to low-to-no-cost health care within the Cook County Health and Hospitals System (CCHHS).

Approved by the Cook County Board on September 14, 2016, the new program will direct uninsured Cook County residents earning up to double the federal poverty level to CCHHS primary care clinics to receive care. Doctors Council SEIU supports the effort to expand access to uninsured residents of Cook County by informing them of the services available to them at the CCHHS and guiding them away from emergency rooms to local medical homes where they will receive quality preventative care.

The HC3 coalition is comprised of grassroots community organizations, direct service providers, labor groups, and policy groups. HC3 has sought to address the lack of primary and preventive health care access available to low-income and uninsurable Cook County residents and has received the support of Cook County Commissioners Gainer, and Garcia, and Steele since its inception.

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“We are excited for the new direct access program to kick off because it means many patients who we might have previously seen only in emergency room visits can now gain access to a primary care physician and develop a long-term health care plan for themselves and their families,” Doctors Council Vice President and CCHHS doctor Dr. Simon Piller said.

Patients will receive a membership card that will make getting services from anywhere within the CCHHS much easier, including more than a dozen primary clinics and both Stroger and Provident hospitals.

In other Cook County news, the state has granted approval to CCHHS’ request to build the Central Campus Health Center—a nine-story, 280,000 square-foot outpatient services building (pictured above) next to Stroger Hospital.

CCHHS hopes to open the new building in the fall of 2018, offering a modern patient experience while reducing operating costs and capital renewals for outdated and dilapidated facilities. As part of the move, a women and children’s health center will move to the fourth floor of Stroger, where Labor and Delivery and inpatient pediatrics are currently housed. Outpatient pediatrics, OB/GYN, and prenatal services will also be moved to the fourth floor of Stroger.

“Doctors Council SEIU welcomes the state’s decision in the broader context of continued need for capital investment in the Cook County Health and Hospitals System,” Doctors Council President Dr. Frank Proscia said. “In these times when more often we hear about cuts and closures, any commitment to fortify and enhance our public safety net facilities is a good thing.”

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