Oak Forest Hospital of Cook County

Celebrating its 90th anniversary, Oak Forest Hospital, with more than 600 beds, provides the rehabilitation, chronic disease and long-term link in the Bureau’s continuum of care. Located on a spacious, 340-acre campus in the southwest corner of Cook County the hospital meets the needs of patients who require medical care and skills-training in a long-term setting.

Oak Forest Hospital’s inpatient services include: long-term intermediate/supportive care, skilled nursing care, subacute care, comprehensive rehabilitation, and acute care units. Specialty programs include ventilator, palliative and AIDS units, as well as brain injury rehabilitation, pain management, and vocational services. Oak Forest was one of the first hospitals in the state to establish a program for ventilator-dependent individuals, persons who cannot breathe on their own. The facility now cares for an average of 30-35 patients with ventilator needs who require intensive monitoring and oversight.

The rehabilitation unit, which provides comprehensive inpatient therapy and medical services to people with physical and cognitive disabilities, is accredited by the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. During an inpatient stay, a comprehensive team of rehabilitation specialists assists patients in maximizing their abilities. Restoring physical and cognitive skills, after a stroke, for instance, can involve physical, occupational, speech, recreational, and vocational therapies, as well as nursing and psychology. The team is led by a physiatrist, a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation.

The unit is a vital step between acute care and return to the community for persons with disabilities. Follow-up outpatient therapies and services are provided to assist people in living full and active lives after they are discharged.

Consistent with the Bureau of Health Services’ emphasis on meeting community needs, Oak Forest is a specialty hospital that also is keenly responsive to the evolving health concerns of its area residents. In the past few years, Oak Forest has initiated programs in Oncology, maternal fetal medicine, and pain management, for example. To stem a high incidence of breast cancer in the community, Oak Forest implemented mammography services, which received a three-year accreditation from the American College of Radiology. Due to the increased number of persons being screened at three affiliated outpatient clinics managed by the Ambulatory and Community Health Network, cancer is being detected earlier and more frequently. As a result, Oak Forest added an oncologists to treat patients closer to home.

Because of the growing outpatient utilization at the nearby Ambulatory and Community Health Network sites, the Network operates an After Hours Care Center on the Oak Forest campus, which is accessible on evenings and weekends. More subspecialty clinics have also been established onsite to diagnose and treat diverse medical problems.

Oak Forest rehabilitates a growing number of teenagers who are paralyzed by gunfire, many of whom require ventilator care. Consequently, Oak Forest provides age-specific social and psychological support for the special needs of these adolescents. Hospital staff members have also taken a lead in creating programs to reduce gun violence. A group of long-term patients who are gunshot survivors participate in the “My Life, My Choices” program. They speak out in various settings, encouraging young people to shun the world of gangs and violence. Oak Forest also sponsors a number of other anti-violence initiatives, including a violence prevention health fair for high school students.

As a specialty hospital, Oak Forest complements the tertiary care services of Cook County Hospital and the community services of Provident Hospital. For example, in addition to the consolidation of Bureau of Health Services rehabilitation services under Oak Forest leadership, the Oak Forest Audiology Department assists with hearing aid testing at Provident Hospital. Also, the Oak Forest nursing staff developed a wound care program to ensure that persons with limited mobility do not develop chronic skin problems. The program is currently being expanded throughout the Bureau.

Oak Forest Hospital plays a crucial role in providing access to long-term care and rehabilitation services for patients of other Bureau affiliates. For example, as part of the Bureau’s initiative to make services more convenient and accessible, family members and visitors are now provided courtesy transportation between Cook County, Provident and Oak Forest Hospitals. In this way, Oak Forest ensures that patients with specialized needs, and their families, receive exceptional services without having to leave the Bureau system of care. It is another way that the Bureau brings the full continuum of care to communities throughout Cook County.