County commissioners weigh health department move

  • By Alex Parker
  • Staff Writer
  • March 06, 2009 @ 9:00 AM

Cook County commissioners are split on whether to move the Cook County Department of Public Health’s administrative offices to the Oak Forest Hospital campus.

Commissioners Peter Silvestri and Earlean Collins introduced a measure to ditch the move, which could cost the county as much as $5 million.

Commissioners agreed yesterday to further discuss the issue.

 “I believe that a public facility like the Department of Public Health should be accessible to the many users of that service,” he says. “To move something from Oak Park, which is centrally located in Cook County, to the far southwest edge of Cook County is not advisable.”

The department currently occupies two floors in downtown Oak Park. It pays more than $600,000 a year in rent, and operating costs of about $50,000. Health department officials believe they can recoup those costs within seven years by moving. If the plan goes through, the department would move its 70 workers in 2011.

No clinical work is done at the Oak Park location.

Steven Martin, CEO of the public health department, says the move would put the department’s administrative offices near other departments, including the Office of Emergency Management and the Department of Homeland Security. He told commissioners the move would improve the department’s efficiency.

“It’s important to bring everything together,” Martin says.

Daily News Staff Writer Alex Parker covers public health. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 17