Staffing changes at Cook County Public Health & Human Services

Cook County Commissioners authorized the Public Health & Human Services Department to hire two employees – a social worker to replace Linda Waterhouse upon her retirement and an eligibility specialist.

The social worker is Julie Kinney and she will work 40 hours per week, a few hours more than Waterhouse worked.  She will start at a Step 7 rate of $23.16/hour because of extensive professional experience.

The other position is for a permanent eligibility specialist.  The department has had massive staff turnover in the past year or so.  With Affordable Care Act changes around the corner, the county board had authorized adding a temporary eligibility specialist about six months ago.  Department Director Sue Futterer said she expected to have an increase in their caseload with the new federal health care system and needs throughout the department continue to grow.

Futterer told the board that a current staff member is qualified for the job but would not want to leave their current job if the new one was only temporary.  Finding people that would be able to do this job has been very difficult, she said.  The pay scale is lower than other counties and is too low to attract experienced people, she said.  Department accountant Jan Parish said it takes about two years for an eligibility specialist to get fully up to speed.

“Our staff is under a considerable amount of stress and there is tension due to the turnover,” Futterer said.

Parish said she is going to retire eventually and now is the time to start filling the department up with long-term replacements.