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Cook County to allocate federal COVID-19 funds to address behavioral health services, increase health workforce

11 Oct 2021 2:50 PM | Anonymous

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle last week laid out her proposed $8 billion budget for the coming year, which includes allocating millions in federal relief funds to behavioral and mental health services. (HN IL 10.11.2021]

The budget includes $60 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for healthcare and access initiatives related to behavioral and mental health programming and services. Another $60 million will go toward equity and justice initiatives like alternatives to 911 for mental health crises.

“It’s a budget that reflects our values, our commitment to advancing equity and creates a path to an even stronger Cook County,” Preckwinkle said. “I’m proud of our work to navigate this pandemic in a fiscally responsible manner. 

Nearly half of the budget, $3.95 billion, is allocated for public health. That includes $384 million in charity care, as officials said Cook County Health’s two hospitals provide over half of the county’s total charity care.

The plan also calls for hundreds of new full-time hires at Cook County Health, including 98 for health plan services and a net increase of 81 in hospital-based services.

Other provisions of the budget include:

·    Funds for renovations and additions to Provident Hospital, including the restoration of ambulance runs and expansion of inpatient capacity at the facility,

·    expansion of the neurology, cardiology and oncology services, and

·    the opening of a health center in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood.

The Cook County Board of Commissioners will take up the proposal later this year.

Read the budget here

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