From hero to ‘zero’: Cook County health care workers say they’re getting breadcrumbs as jobs get filled with private contractors


About 100 Cook County health officials and their supporters gathered outside Stroger Hospital on Friday to accuse the county of “turning its back” on them by filling vacant posts with private contract workers.

“Morale has never been lower…we are understaffed and overworked,” said Veronica Williams, a surgical technologist at Stroger Hospital, as she stood in front of her office on Friday.

She said contractors are “a band-aid for a problem that is only getting worse.” Many agency staff outsourced to hospitals are simply inexperienced and lack the knowledge and tools to provide quality care. ”

SEIU Local 73, a union representing about 2,100 health care system employees in the county, says the county has spent about $500 million on contract workers since 2018 to help fill a national staffing shortage. said there is.

“A government agency’s overburdened workforce reduces the quality of care for county patients and robs them of stable union jobs,” union chairman Diane Palmer said.

About 600 health care workers in the county are now made up of temporary contract workers, Palmer said.

“They don’t know the hospital. They don’t know the policies and procedures. They don’t even know where they are going, so our members have to help them do their job.” No,” Palmer said.

Instead, counties should fill these positions with union workers and offer retention bonuses, Palmer said. Palmer said so far the county has come to the table with “backward proposals.”

“The county provides breadcrumbs for workers,” she says. “The county calls you heroes, but treats you like zeros.”

Cook County Health Department spokeswoman Alexandra Normington said in a statement: “The nationwide shortage of healthcare workers, exacerbated significantly by the COVID-19 pandemic, is hitting hospitals across the country. “The Cook County Health Department is no exception.” CCH is working hard to hire more staff throughout the health system. However, as every hospital in our area attests, there are far more open positions than candidates.

“We position CCH as an employer of choice by offering competitive salaries, generous benefits and paid vacation,” said Normington. “With support from President Toni Prekwinkle, the Cook County Commission and the CCH Board of Directors, CCH is piloting new hire and retention incentives for select positions. We are actively working in good faith to negotiate these bonuses for some of the SEIU positions, just as we have been successful with other collective bargaining department positions.”


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Written by Natalia Chi

Chicago Popular; Chicago breaking news, weather and live video. Covering local politics, health, traffic and sports for Chicago, the suburbs and northwest Indiana.

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