Cook County settles physician lawsuits for $2.6M

The Cook County (Ill.) Board of Commissioners has agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle a lawsuit brought by three physicians who claimed they had been wrongfully terminated from their jobs at a public hospital, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Two of the physicians--Vietta Johnson and Daniel Ivankovich--said they had been laid off from the county-run Provident Hospital because they had engaged in union-organizing activities and had criticized the county in published reports for spending too much on administrative services and salaries and not enough on patient care, according to the Tribune. A third doctor, Karen Nash, had alleged discrimination in pay and in the way she was treated at work, the Tribune reported.

Johnson and Ivankovich's lawsuit described a hostile work environment in which they often felt intimidated by their immediate supervisors.

The doctors had all been laid off in 2007 as part of budget cuts to Cook County's healthcare system, the newspaper reported.

Provident has since dealt with additional steep budget cuts, including cutbacks that forced the layoffs of dozens of its nurses and closing its emergency department to ambulances back in 2011.

A similar lawsuit involving Boston's Beth Deaconess Medical Center's former chief of anesthesia, who alleged gender bias, was recently settled for $7 million.

For more:
- read the Chicago Tribune article
- read filings related to Drs. Johnson and Ivankovich's lawsuit