The head of Cook County's public health system has hired a new top-level executive who resigned last year from a public hospital in Dallas that the federal government determined was a "serious threat to patient health and safety."
Dr. John Jay Shannon was hired to a new $400,000-a-year post that includes overseeing operations at Stroger Hospital and ensuring quality and patient safety throughout the Health and Hospitals System as part of a reorganization.
While making the plan public Wednesday, Dr. Ramanathan Raju, CEO of the nearly $1 billion-a-year health system, defended hiring Shannon as chief of clinical integration.
"I am convinced (Shannon) is the right person for the job at Cook County," Raju told the Tribune editorial board. "So that's why I hired him to come help here in Cook County."
The reorganization, which will result in the elimination of some management posts, will help refocus the system on "health care as opposed to sick care," Raju said. It comes as the system gets a new influx of federal funding under the Affordable Care Act.
Shannon worked for the old Cook County Hospital from 1990 to 2007. He left to take a post as chief medical officer at the Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, where he stayed until his resignation last summer.
In September 2011, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services determined Parkland Memorial Hospital had "deficiencies that represent an immediate and serious threat to patient health and safety."
The hospital agreed to bring in an outside consultant to monitor improvements, according to the Dallas Morning News. Last June, the consultant issued a report cited "continuing problems," blaming "senior managers and leaders," the Dallas paper reported.
"I'm in fact proud of some of the accomplishments we made in Parkland during the five years that I was there as the chief medical officer, but clearly we had some spectacular medical failures," Shannon told the editorial board. "And no one is proud of that, no one's happy about that."
Shannon said that during his last year at Parkland, he worked closely with the federal monitor to make needed changes. "I'm very sorry that I didn't see them across the finish line," he added. "They'll be going through a re-survey, and I'm quite sure they will be successful this time."
Raju stressed that as CEO, he is responsible for the overall system and believed that Shannon's prior experience at the county hospital and at Parkland made him a good fit for his new role.
In his new post, Shannon will be one of "the four people who are going to run the system with me," Raju said. "I'm trying to find the best and the brightest all across the nation to come in and help us out with this."
Raju also is bringing in Anthony Rajkumar as chief business officer. He comes from the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp., where Raju previously was chief operating officer.