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State Representative Sara Feigenholtz

Mini-internship Brings Lawmakers to Stroger Hospital

CMS recently arranged for Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (Dist. 12) to meet personally with top administrators and physicians at Stroger Hospital to learn first-hand the challenges confronting patients and doctors who deliver care at the frontlines.

Her visit was sponsored by the CMS Mini-internship Program, an ongoing mentoring project that educates legislators on the realities of practicing medicine.

Hosted by CMS Treasurer and District 6 Trustee Philip B. Dray, MD, Chairman of the Stroger Division of Ophthalmology, the internship included a roundtable discussion, tour of the eye center, trauma center, emergency room, and several operating rooms, where Rep. Feigenholtz watched Richard Keen, MD, perform vascular surgery, and George Cybulski, MD, remove a brain tumor.

Terry Mason, MD, Chief Medical Officer, CCHHS, Johnny C. Brown, Chief Operating Officer, Stroger Hospital, and Randall Mark, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Policy, CCHHS, participated in the roundtable discussion, along with Drs. Dray, Keen, and Cybulski.  A CMS member of 20 years, Dr. Cybulski is Chairman of the Division of Neurology.  Dr. Keen is Chairman of the Department of Surgery, Stroger Hospital.

The day ended with a meeting among Rep. Feigenholtz and Cook County Health and Hospital System (CCHHS) CEO William T. Foley and Mr. Mark to discuss health care legislation.

The mini-internship took place on Oct. 1.

Participants host roundtable on emergency room issues

Patients ineligible for Medicaid are the largest population seen at Stroger Hospital’s emergency room. Many show up with diagnoses and prescriptions from other hospitals, or counties, along with MapQuest directions for finding Stroger Hospital, according to roundtable participants who met with Rep. Feigenholtz.  They call this practice of redirecting patients “risk dumping” or “risk transferring.”  As a result of the associated delays in care, Stroger handles the most medically complex cases. In 2009, approximately 200,000 patients were seen in the hospital’s ER, of whom 80% were uninsured.  For the 13 months ending in July 2010, comparisons by payer type showed cash receipts of $88,486,028 from Medicaid; $30,047,948 from Medicare; $5,367,817 from third-party payers; and $2,575,779 from self-pay patients.  Due to limited resources, the hospital must ration some care, participants told Rep. Feigenholtz.  For patients and physicians in this milieu, there really is no prevention side to health care.

Background

The Legislative Mini-Internship Program matches legislators and civic leaders with physicians for one day. The goal is to expose lawmakers and leaders to the realities of medicine, allowing them to witness the complexities of daily practice.  In fostering two-way communications, the Program can broaden the perspective of all participants.  Thus, as CMS members become better acquainted with legislative responsibilities, legislators can deepen their understanding of the impact of legislation on health care delivery.  The program also helps position CMS as a local resource on health policy issues, paving the way for more informed discussion among legislators.  For information on the CMS Legislative Mini-internship Program, contact Christine Fouts (312) 670-2550, ext. 326; or email: cfouts@cmsdocs.org.

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