Dr. John Jay Shannon is out as CEO of Cook County Health, one of the largest public health systems in the nation. The Cook County Health & Hospitals System board today voted to remove Shannon from the role he's held since 2014.
People familiar with the situation say county President Toni Preckwinkle had grown dissatisfied with Shannon and sought his dismissal.
The decision to let Shannon go was a unanimous vote, one source tells Crain's. Shannon will stay until the end of the year. Debra Carey, deputy CEO of operations, will be the interim. There will be a search for Shannon's replacement. County officials say they will release a statement soon.
"The system is in better shape than when he started, there will be an opportunity for others to look at it and meet the challenge of growing uncompensated care that the system faces," County Commissioner Larry Suffredin said of Shannon's tenure.
Under Shannon's leadership, the two-hospital health system has doubled down on outpatient, preventive services and grown its managed care program for people on Medicaid. It recently got approval from the state to build an eight-story, $240 million facility to replace Provident Hospital on the South Side.
Cook County Health also includes John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital on the Near West Side and a network of clinics. It's known as the safety net for the region. At an October City Club of Chicago event, Shannon chided private hospitals for skimping on charity care and regularly "dumping" uninsured or underinsured patients on the county's hospitals, which treat all patients regardless of their ability to pay. Shannon said patients in need of expensive care show up at his hospitals daily, after being stabilized and discharged by private, nonprofit hospitals.
Stroger spent $324.6 million, or 54 percent of its revenue, on free care for poor patients last year, according to Illinois Health Facilities & Services Review Board data.
Shannon took over as CEO for Dr. Ramanathan Raju, who left in 2014 to take the top spot at New York City Health & Hospitals Corp. Shannon previously served as the system's chief of clinical integration and No. 2 executive under Raju.
He's been with the county system for a total of about 20 years, coming back in 2013 after serving as the chief medical officer of the Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas.
Shannon earned his medical degree from Rush Medical College.
This article was originally published in Crain's Chicago Business.