Upenn officials must be more open and accountable to the community, says the state’s top health official.
“This is a public health crisis,” Dr. Robert B. Niederhauser, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, told a group of health officials Thursday in an open session at the state Capitol.
“And we’ve got to do something about it.”
Upenn officials are under scrutiny after the state auditor found they failed to adequately document the cost of the health care system.
They have also come under fire after they failed a health and safety inspection in 2016.
Niederhanser said he wants the state to “put in place a program to help us make the right decisions in the future.”
He called for an audit of the county health system.
The health system has faced a growing number of serious health care crises.
In February, Upenn health officials said more than 1,200 patients had been admitted to the hospital for respiratory conditions in the past three years.
That’s more than triple the number the county reported in the same period of 2017.
Last year, the county recorded 1,085 respiratory illnesses.
The county reported 539 respiratory illnesses in the 2016-17 fiscal year.
In March, Upenna officials announced they would close all five health care facilities in the county, including the Downers Grove facility.
The health department later said that they had cut staff.
The county’s health department has struggled to find an effective way to manage the growing number, including reducing staffing and requiring more frequent visits from health care workers.
Nederhafer said that Upenn is working with the Illinois Department of Healthcare to develop a plan to address the growing health crisis.
He said Upenn has a plan that addresses the needs of those who have to deal with the growing numbers of respiratory illness cases.
Upenn Health Secretary Kevin Murphy said the county will be a leader in that effort.
Nederhafers remarks come after the Illinois Health Department announced in December that it was going to hold a conference call with stakeholders on Monday to discuss the health system’s response to the growing respiratory illness crisis.
The conference call is scheduled for 6 p.m.
ET on Monday.