Members from the Cook County Health and Hospital Systems board met with residents for the sixth and final time on Monday night in an effort to spur public input on the current state of the County’s health plan.

Held at the Proviso Math and Science Academy in Forest Park, the town hall meeting was part of a listening tour that began in July. Ultimately, comments received by the board could help shape the 2010 budget.

“We want to discuss some of the issues and challenges facing our health system and identify key opportunities and priorities for system development, and we really need your help,” Bill Foley, Cook County Health and Hospital Systems CEO, said in an opening statement.

Those in attendance provided board members with a mixture of “testimonials” ranging from horror stories to suggestions for improvement.

Twin Green told the audience and board members about a very serious fall that her son experienced in 2002 while at Cook County jail – one that sent him to Cermak Health Services of Cook County, where he was not granted the necessary surgery, she said. As time progressed, her son learned that he needed a hip replacement. He has no health insurance, and the only aid he currently receives comes in the form of a Cook County Drug Card, said Green.

“Today my son is totally disabled,” Green said, “and I think that that is poor care and I think that the county hospital ought to do better.”

Terri Gendel, director of Benefits and Advocacy for Age Options – a not-for-profit agency that meets various needs of seniors in suburban Cook County – expressed the need for the county to participate in educating and involving as many people as possible in federally reimbursed programs, such as Medicare, in an effort to minimize the financial burden.

“Particularly for those that qualify for the low income subsidy, we just can’t stand knowing how much service people need and seeing a revenue stream just being disregarded,” Gendel said.

Many in attendance said they were pleased to be given a public forum to voice their opinion on an issue they said has been ignored for far too long.