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Preckwinkle: County Can’t Afford Oak Forest Hospital

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Toni Preckwinkle chairs her first Cook County Board meeting

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle chairs her first Cook County board meeting on Dec. 14, 2010 (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle is taking a strong stand urging state regulators to reverse a decision on planned changes at Oak Forest Hospital.

As WBBM Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports, Preckwinkle has warned the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board that if it does not allow the county to turn Oak Forest Hospital into an outpatient clinic, it will be saddling the system with an unfunded mandate to keep fully operational a hospital it cannot afford.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780 Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports

So what happens if the panel says no, as it has once before? Preckwinkle won’t say.

“We’re not there yet,” she said. “There’s a meeting on the 10th of May, and as I said, I anticipate that we’ll get the approvals that we need. If we don’t, we’ll go back to the drawing board with the Health Facilities Planning Board and with our own independent governing board to figure out what the next steps will be.”

The report by the state board last month said closing the hospital would increase the need for intensive care beds and nursing home beds in the area. It cautioned of an apparent “adverse impact on access to care,” given the large number of poor patients the hospital serves.

Preckwinkle is the guest on WBBM 780’s “At Issue” program this week. You can hear more of her comments on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS Radio and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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