One has only to take a day trip to John Stroger Hospital and its neighbor Rush Hospital to witness first hand how unequal these two separate facilities really are. While Rush services the predominantly white clientele in North Chicago, Stroger Hospital cares mostly for Chicago's black residents. Countless newspaper stories have chronicled how Democratic patronage has led to gross mismanagement at Stroger Hospital; patients stomped to death by security, babies dying in the waiting room, impossibly long pharmacy lines, and the discouragement patients face while waiting hours at the emergency room. A recent study found that 40% of emergency room patients wait six or more hours before being seen by an attending physician. Twenty percent of patients wait 12 hours or more for an available bed for overnight or follow up treatment.
Complaints like these are seldom heard at Rush. These two facilities are clear examples of 'separate but unequal.' And while the reasons for the disparities are complex, the most obvious (and easily solved) is the odious patronage system that pervades Stroger Hospital. As long as Democratic County President John Stroger continues to use Stroger Hospital as a job factory for his political allies, reform is likely to be slow. The facts are clear, John Stroger gives county jobs not to the most qualified, but to the most politically loyal. This tendency of his to reward friends at the expense of his constituents is a key reason why African Americans struggle to receive timely health care.