(FinalCall.com) – Community protests and upset doctors at Chicago’s Provident Hospital have persuaded Illinois’ Cook County Board President Todd Stroger to back away from a rumored 50 percent cut in the hospital’s budget.

The budget instead will be reduced by 17 percent, which is consistent with other budget reductions in the County to close a $500 million deficit. But even this news didn’t sit well with the doctors or the community.

“With the 17 percent cut, there’s a possibility of other clinics being closed, other services being dropped,” said Dr. Joseph Pulvirenti, chair of infectious diseases at the hospital to the Medill News Service. “A 17 percent cut is still drastic.”


The community was outraged at just the thought of cuts.

“It’s crazy for them to be cutting (Provident’s) budget by 50 percent or any percent. They ought to be adding 150 percent to it because it’s overcrowded already,” explained Mattie Butler, long time community activist to the Medill News Service.

Daily Southtown.com a local website wrote an editorial opposing even the reduced 17 percent proposed cuts. “Robert Simon, interim chief of the health bureau, said Stroger’s plan for across the board cuts in all county departments will force the closing of more than half the clinics. It will also force the closing of some departments in the county’s three hospitals. Simon said the specific cuts will be identified and announced this week.”

“In our view, this is a perfect illustration of the folly of ordering across-the-board cuts rather than targeting the fat and bloat in the county budget. Stroger made much during his campaign for county board president of the need to protect the county’s “core mission” of health care for poor residents. Shuttering these clinics, which serve the county’s poorest and neediest residents, flies in the face of Stroger’s promise.”

The budget rumors were merely hearsay according to County Board commissioner Jerry “Iceman” Butler who is also the older brother of Mattie. The hospital is part of his district.

“We have not seen what the proposal is going to be. I’ve heard rumors that the cut could be up to 50 percent, but I don’t see how it could be 50 percent,” he told the Medill News Service.

The idea of clinics closing has many doctors shaking their heads.

“The idea of putting small clinics in communities all around the city, is you let your 85-year-olds, you let your 90-year-olds come and get their care in a local situation where they don’t have to spend an hour and a half getting to the hospital,” said Dr. Peter Orris of Cook County Hospital to the Medill News Service.

Dr. Orris stressed the importance of such clinics in getting elderly patients “the preventive care that they need for their hypertension or their diabetes so they don’t have a stroke and then come into the hospital really sick.”

Calling the efforts of physicians who protested the 50 percent cuts an incredible success, Dr. Pulvirenti described the victory as bittersweet. “On a larger level the 17 percent cuts are catastrophic,” Dr. Pulvirenti told the Medill News Service.