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System News Cook County Health Letter from CEO

Monday, August 01, 2022
Special to

June & July 2022

Letter from the CEO

Dear Cook County Health friends and partners,

Gun violence is one of the most pressing public health threats of our time and we continue to be reminded that no city or town is immune.

There have been some 200 days in this year, and already there have been more than 300 mass shootings across the U.S. in places like Uvalde, Buffalo, Tucson, and Greenwood. We have been devastated by mass shootings close to home in Chicago and Highland Park. Enough is enough.

June was Gun Violence Awareness Month, but we must not limit our advocacy and attention to one month.

Here in our health system, we know all too well the toll gun violence takes on our community's wellbeing. Between 2020 and 2021 alone, the Cook County Health team has treated more than 2,000 patients with gun injuries. Not only do we provide for their urgent health needs, but also their ongoing care, including follow-up surgeries, rehabilitation, and mental health treatment. The number of patients with gun injuries has made our trauma surgeons among the best in the world at treating penetrating trauma wounds. Yet, we dream of a world where we have no patients with these devastating, life-altering injuries.

Even if a person is not directly injured, exposure to gun violence (hearing or witnessing gun shots, losing a friend or family member to gun violence) creates trauma that can impact a person’s physical and mental health. Cook County Health is creating a trauma-informed care curriculum that will help our employees identify and care for people who have experienced traumatic events and provide staff the support they need as well.


We are heartened at the bipartisan progress toward the first meaningful gun safety legislation in decades, but there is still so much more work to be done in Cook County and around the nation. It can be hard to know what a single individual can do to address such an overwhelming health crisis. Scroll down to learn more about how you can help advocate for gun safety in this country.


Israel Rocha, Jr.


CCH Offering COVID Vaccines and Tests

As COVID-19 cases continue to surge throughout our area, please know that community members can get a COVID vaccine or test at one of 5 CCH locations across Cook County.

Community vaccination and testing is available at the following sites:

·Arlington Heights Health Center

·Blue Island Health Center

·North Riverside Health Center

·Provident Hospital

·Stroger Hospital

Current CCH patients can continue to get a COVID vaccine or test at their physician’s office.

COVID Vaccinations

All people age 6 months and older are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID!

Booster shots are also now recommended for all people age 5 and older. Individuals age 50 and older and immunocompromised adults are eligible for a second booster.

The time is now to make sure your whole family is up to date on their COVID vaccines!

You can make a vaccine appointment online at You can also make an appointment by calling the CCH COVID Hotline at 833-308-1988 between the hours of 7:00am and 6:00pm Monday through Friday.

View this flyer in English or Spanish for more information about CCH locations and hours for COVID vaccination.

COVID Testing

Getting tested for COVID-19 is an important step in protecting your health and the health of those around you. CCH provides drive-through testing at select locations across the county.

Individuals wishing to get tested must pre-register by calling the CCH COVID Hotline at 833-308-1988 between the hours of 7:00am and 6:00pm Monday through Friday. No appointment is required.

View this flyer in English or Spanish for more information about CCH locations and hours for COVID testing.

COVID Vaccines Approved for Children 6 Months to 4 Years

The FDA and CDC approved the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for children 6 months and older. This is exciting news in our effort to stop the spread of COVID-19!

“Getting vaccinated helps to protect your child against serious COVID complications and helps prevent your child from spreading COVID to more vulnerable family or friends,” said Dr. Nimmi Rajagopal, Associate Chair of Family and Community Medicine at CCH. “There are years of science behind the COVID vaccines. I got my son vaccinated as soon as I was able to, and I am recommending that all of my patients get their shot.”

Data show that the vaccines are safe and effective for young children. In fact, they often have fewer side effects from the vaccine than adults.

Families are encouraged to talk to their pediatrician about vaccination and to get vaccinated at their doctor’s office.

Cook County Health (CCH) is offering vaccines for young children at all of its community health centers and hospitals. Make an appointment at

Monkeypox Update

Cases of monkeypox are continuing to be identified across the United States, including in Illinois, suburban Cook County and the City of Chicago.

The current outbreak seems to primarily be impacting, but is not limited to, men who have sex with men. Monkeypox is spread person-to-person through close physical contact, often skin-to-skin contact.

Symptoms of monkeypox include:

·Fever, chills, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches

·A rash that typically begins within one to three days after fever begins

·Lesions can be flat or slightly raised, filled with clear or yellowish fluid, and can then crust, dry up and fall off

·The number of lesions on one person can range from a few to several thousand. The rash typically starts on the face, palms of the hands and soles of the feet but in the recent cases some have lesions only on the genital and rectal area

·Symptoms typically last between 2 to 4 weeks and go away on their own without treatment

Cook County Health is offering monkeypox screenings by appointment only. To make an appointment for a screening, please call 312-572-4500. CCH is also offering vaccinations for eligible patients.

For more on monkeypox, please see the latest information from the Chicago Department of Public Healthand the Cook County Department of Public Health.

Senator Dick Durbin Joins Cook County Health, Government Leaders to Call for Gun Reform

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other Cook County leaders, including Cook County Health CEO Israel Rocha and Dr. Faran Bokhari, CCH Chair of Trauma & Burn Services, on June 3 to call for commonsense gun reform in light of a recent wave of gun violence.

The news conference took place on National Gun Violence Awareness Day, as Americans are wearing orange in honor of gun violence victims including Hadiya Pendleton, who was tragically shot and killed at age 15 in Harsh Park in 2013.

“Guns are now the leading cause of death for children, surpassing motor vehicle deaths in 2020 for the first time,” Mr. Rocha said. “We cannot, as a nation, let this trend go unaddressed.”

“Sadly, as much as our medicine to repair gunshot wounds has advanced, so too have the guns and the bullets,” Dr. Bokhari said. “We can work to repair the injuries left by a typical handgun but bullets from semi-automatic or assault rifles can leave damage so extensive it is impossible to repair.

Last year, Cook County Health cared for more than 1,000 gunshot wounds.


We encourage you to get involved in one of the many national gun safety advocacy groups likeGiffords Action Network, Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady, March for Our Lives, or the Prevention Institute. Together we can take a stand and make a change.

Cook County Health Holds Stop the Bleed® Training for Local Leaders, Community Organizers

On June 17, Cook County Health’s trauma department led Stop the Bleed® training with Cook County leaders and community organizers.

Stop the Bleed® is a nationwide organization that trains ordinary people how to help save a life in an emergency. Dr. Faran Bokhari, CCH Chair of Trauma & Burn Services, spoke about the success patients have in surviving a penetrating wound when they arrive to the hospital And their blood loss has been controlled.

The event also provided violence interrupters and other community organizers the opportunity to learn more about Stop the Bleed® and how they can share this information. To find out more about training, visit

Awards and Recognitions

Top Cancer Doctor

Dr. Elizabeth Marcus, Chair of Breast Oncology for Cook County Health, was named to Chicago Magazine’s Top Doctors list for 2022. Dr. Marcus is an expert in oncology who specializes in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer. She has expertise in treating locally advanced breast cancer and conducting research to improve multidisciplinary treatment. Dr. Marcus is particularly focused on caring for underserved populations and serves as a subject matter expert on improving care delivery to minority communities as a member of the National Cancer Institute Breast Cancer Steering Committee.

Stroger Hospital Receives Recognition from the American Heart Association

Stroger Hospital received national acknowledgement from The American Heart Association, earning the “Get With The Guidelines® - Stroke SILVER PLUS” award for its commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines. The hospital was also awarded the “Target: Type 2 Diabetes Honor Roll”, which ensures patients with type 2 diabetes receive the most up-to-date, evidence-based care when hospitalized with cardiovascular disease or stroke.

Thank you to Dr. Lakshmi Warrior, chair of neurology, Kathryn Dudzik, stroke coordinator, and the entire neurology team for their work in achieving this recognition.

CountyCare Recognized for Medicaid Innovation

CountyCare was recognized by the Institute for Medicaid Innovation for its partnership with the Flexible Housing Pool (FHP).

CountyCare is among a select group of managed care organizations that proactively led with innovation in response to the pandemic to address social determinants of health and advance health equity by providing permanent supportive housing to 66 CountyCare members. The FHP is an established public-private partnership that provides permanent supportive housing, an evidence-based housing first intervention for unhoused individuals. CCH is a partner in the FHP.

MyShot Campaign Receives National Awards

Cook County Health, Cook County Government and the Cook County Department of Public Health worked together on the “My Shot” marketing campaign to raise awareness about efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine and encourage people to get their shot.

The campaign has now been recognized with 11 different awards in three national and local competitions. To view the My Shot website, visit

Cook County Health’s Substance Use Disorder Program Wins at National Summit

Cook County Health was one of five winners for innovation at the National Stigma of Addiction Summit on reducing stigma of addiction.

The CCH team was recognized for its worth partnering the Substance Use Disorder Program and our Business Intelligence Unit to utilize patient reported outcomes to reduce stigma in addiction treatment.

Cook County Health Staff Celebrate Pride Month

In June, staff at the Ruth M. Rothstein CORE Center and our Belmont Cragin Health Center celebrated Pride Month. We are proud of our work to ensure EVERY patient feels welcome when they come through our doors.

Cook County HIV Integrated Programs Offers Free HIV Testing on National HIV Testing Day

On National HIV Testing Day (June 27), Cook County HIV Integrated Programs (CCHIP) partnered with Greater Than AIDS and Walgreens to offer free HIV testing at select Walgreens locations.

Staff from CCHIP also answered questions about HIV prevention and treatment, and assisted community members with navigating services. More than 100 people were tested at the sites. Dr. Sybil Hosek spoke with ABC 7 Chicago about how thanks to advancements in treatment, those testing positive can live long lives.

"The great thing about HIV treatments now is that getting on these medications which are so simple compared to what they used to be- (it) could be a single tablet every day, could be an injection every couple of months," Dr. Hosek said in an interview.

To learn more about CCH’s HIV/AIDS program, click here.

988: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline launches new 3-digit number

This month, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline changed its number to an easy-to-remember, 3-digit number: 988. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline offers 24/7 access to trained counselors who can help people experiencing mental health-related distress.

People can call or text 988 or chat for themselves or if they are worried about a loved one who may need crisis support. 988 serves as a universal entry point so that no matter where you live in the U.S., you can reach a trained crisis counselor who can help.

Veterans can dial 988 and press 1 to reach the Veteran Crisis Line.

There is tremendous need, given:

·In 2020, the U.S. had one death by suicide every 11 minutes.

·For people ages 10–34, suicide is a leading cause of death.

·From April 2020 through April 2021, over 100,000 people died from drug overdoses.

The 988 Lifeline helps thousands of struggling people overcome suicidal crisis or mental-health related distress every day.

Community Resource Navigator Training and Jobs

Cook County Health is a member of the Westside Health Equity Collaborative, a group of health care providers and social service agencies working together to bring health care and support to people on the West Side of Chicago where and when they need it. The Collaborative is training and hiring Community Resource Navigators (CRN)! The deadline to apply for the next training is August 2. Program participants will receive a $500 stipend and the ability to apply for a permanent CRN position. Please share this information with your clients and stakeholders.

Cook County Health in the News

Visit our website at

?If you would like to invite a representative from CCH to attend a community event, please send an email to

To provide feedback on CCH Community News, update your contact information, or unsubscribe, please email Marcelino Garcia, Director of Community Affairs, at


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