Cook County is cutting 138 nursing jobs at Oak Forest and Provident hospitals in a process that began Monday, part of the cutbacks aimed at reducing an estimated $487 million deficit in the county budget.
Nurses union leader Leslie Curtis said nurses are calling it the “Valentine’s Day massacre.”
The county plans to sharply cut the Oak Forest nursing staff by 101, leaving 23 positions, and the Provident staff by 37 to 63 jobs.
Cook County Health and Hospitals System spokesman Lucio Guerrero said many of those being laid off at Oak Forest Hospital work in its inpatient department, which is being eliminated.
Guerrero said nurses who get notices can apply for 132 vacant positions elsewhere in the county health system or bump others with less seniority at the hospital where they work.
Also Monday, Circuit Clerk Court Dorothy Brown’s office laid off 170 employees.
Brown, whose office is the official record keeper of county court cases — from murders to foreclosure suits — didn’t say where the layoffs would occur. In a prepared statement, she did say that the layoffs will “put a high strain on the clerk of the circuit court’s ability to perform its statutory and constitutional responsibilities.”
County board President Toni Preckwinkle has asked Brown and other elected officials to cut their budgets by 16 percent. For the circuit court clerk’s office, that means slashing $12.4 million this year, according to Preckwinkle’s proposed $3.1 billion spending plan.
County commissioners have a Feb. 28 deadline to approve the final budget.
Preckwinkle said in her budget address this month that layoffs could reach 2,000 in a county payroll of about 23,700 employees.