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Proposed Ordinance to Establish a Foreign Healthcare Professional Pilot Program

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Date Introduced: 7/12/2006
Date Passed:



This ordinance would create a Foreign Healthcare Professional Pilot Program to sponsor 20 bilingual Latino immigrants in identified areas of healthcare shortages in the County.

Activity Log:

Referred to Finance Committee for a Public Hearing

Full Text of Legislation:

Submitting a Proposed Resolution sponsored by

ROBERTO MALDONADO, County Commissioner

Co-Sponsored by

LARRY SUFFREDIN, County Commissioner


WHEREAS, a nationwide and regional shortage of trained medical professionals has threatened the timely delivery of health services to patients in the Cook County Bureau of Health Services (“Bureau”), an institution which the poor, the uninsured, and the underinsured solely rely upon for their health care needs; and

WHEREAS, this shortage of medical professionals including nurses, pharmacists, and radiology technicians, combined with competitive salary rates for these positions in the private sector, has created a rapidly shrinking pool of specific healthcare personnel in the Bureau; and

WHEREAS, the Bureau’s current policy of hiring outside agencies to compensate for the lack of full-time professional staff, especially in the case of nurses, is a temporary solution that is costly and unpredictable; and

WHEREAS, despite the fact that more than 40% of our patients are Latino, less than 3% of physicians, 5% of nurses, and 0% of pharmacists are Latino. However, the Bureau has been unsuccessful in recruiting an adequate number of bilingual professionals who have the language skills and cultural knowledge to address the health needs of our growing Latino patient base; and

WHEREAS, there are many students of Latin American origin, some of whom are undocumented, who live in Cook County and work towards professional degrees in schools throughout Illinois, as well as Latin American healthcare professionals who live in Cook County and are seeking licensure to practice their profession in Illinois; and

WHEREAS,after receiving an excellent education in our schools, many of these Latin American students are unable to find employment because of their immigration status and are forced to return to their country of origin; and

WHEREAS, in Cook County alone, there are hundreds of highly skilled Latin American students studying in various healthcare fields who are ready, willing, and able to contribute their skills and talents during this healthcare staffing crisis; and

WHEREAS, Cook County has established itself as an immigrant friendly county and, as such, should take the lead in demonstrating the benefits of hiring highly skilled, foreign-born healthcare professionals to alleviate our staffing shortages and strengthen our public health system; and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of our public health system to provide adequate staffing to perform vital functions in the delivery of government services during a protracted nationwide and regional shortage of essential licensed medical professionals.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT ORDAINED, that the Cook County Board of Commissioners shall enact the following ordinance to establish a Foreign Healthcare Professional Pilot Program with the goal of sponsoring twenty (20) bilingual Latino immigrants in identified areas of healthcare shortages in the County.


This Ordinance shall be known and may be cited as the “Cook County Foreign Healthcare Professional Pilot Program Ordinance.”


For the purpose of this Ordinance, unless the context otherwise requires, the following words or terms shall have the meanings respectively applied to them:

A. “Board” shall mean the Cook County Board of Commissioners.

B. “Bureau” shall mean the Cook County Bureau of Health Services.

C. “County” shall mean County of Cook, State of Illinois.

D. “H-1B visa” shall mean a visa used by a foreign worker who will be employed temporarily on a nonimmigrant basis in a specialty occupation such as medicine and health.

E. “Latin American student” shall mean an individual born in a Central, South American or Caribbean country, but who now resides and studies in Cook County.

F. “Latin American professional” shall mean a Latin American national from Central America, South American, or the Caribbean, who received professional education in another country and now, seeks to be licensed here in the United States.

G. “U.S. licensure” shall mean a license acquired after taking the required exams or fulfilling certain requirements in order to be able to practice professionally in the United States.


The Bureau will work with the Latin American Consulates in Cook County to identify, train, sponsor and employ Latin American individuals who are currently enrolled in college or seeking U.S. licensure and desire to become healthcare professionals in the Bureau. By hiring undocumented graduates of our educational system, or sponsoring the visa applications and hiring graduates and those seeking licensure in the U.S., the County will ensure a pool of qualified, bilingual individuals to meet their healthcare professional needs. In addition, these individuals of Latin American origin will also fill the special need that the Bureau has for bilingual personnel.


In order to facilitate the implementation of this Ordinance, the Board shall enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Latin American Consulates in Cook County to provide assistance and guidance in the selection process of program candidates. The Memorandum of Understanding becomes effective thirty (30) days after passage of this Ordinance.


A. Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding, the Bureau will provide the following information on its healthcare professional needs to the Consulates:

  1. List of the healthcare positions that are vacant in the Bureau due to a shortage of professionals;
  2. Educational or licensing requirements for each position.

B. Pursuant to the Memorandum of Understanding, the Consulates will identify and interview ten (10) student and ten (10) professional candidates to determine their eligibility for the program and will provide the following information to the Bureau on selected candidates applying for the program:

  1. Proof that the candidate’s principal place of residency is within Cook County;
  2. Proof of citizenship from Latin American country of origin;
  3. For student candidates, verification of enrollment at a college or university in Illinois and college transcripts;
  4. For professional candidates, relevant undergraduate and graduate degrees and relevant healthcare certifications; and
  5. All other relevant documentation as required by the Bureau.
C. Upon receipt of the list of selected candidates from the Consulate, the Bureau will conduct another round of interviews and any testing deemed necessary to verify the accuracy of the information provided and to recommend candidates for the program.

D. Final candidates shall be selected by a Selection Panel comprised of the Bureau Chief, the Consul Generals, and the Chief of the Bureau of Human Resources.


A. The County will sponsor the visa applications (H-1B and other categories) of selected candidates in the program and follow all necessary rules and procedures as set forth by the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration including, but not limited to, the following requirements:

  1. The County shall submit a completed Labor Condition Application (LCA) in the manner prescribed by the regulations;
  2. The County shall make the LCA and supporting documentation available for public examination;
  3. The County shall submit a copy of the approved LCA to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with a completed petition requesting H-1B classification;
  4. The County shall not allow the nonimmigrant worker to begin work until USCIS grants the worker authorization;
  5. The County shall maintain documentation to meet its burden of proof with respect to the validity of the statements made in its LCA and the accuracy of information provided, in the event that such statement or information is challenged; and
  6. The County shall inform Cook County workers of the intent to hire a foreign worker by posting the completed LCA for the position.

B. In those instances where a student or professional does not yet have the appropriate documentation to work or study in the U.S., the County would sponsor their visa application, subject to a waiver of applicable federal law.


If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence or clause of this Ordinance or the application thereof to any person is for any reason deemed to be invalid or unconstitutional, such decision shall not affect, impair or invalidate any remaining section, subsection, paragraph, sentence or clause hereof or the application of this ordinance to any other person.


This Ordinance shall take full force and effect immediately upon passage.


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