LITTLE VILLAGE — Cook County officials unveiled an $86 million medical center Thursday that they hope will help Cook County Jail inmates better tackle pervasive substance abuse and mental illness.
County Board President Toni Preckwinkle opened the 276,450-square-foot medical facility at the jail, 3015 N. California Ave.
The Residential Treatment Unit will treat substance abuse and mental illness, and provide general health screenings and evaluations, county officials said.
Preckwinkle, who has been outspoken about the jail's overcrowding issues, called the facility an investment that could pay off if fewer inmates were re-jailed for persistent drug problems.
“... We’ll be able to identify health needs at the outset of detention, treat these individuals while they are in our custody, and hopefully lower the rates of re-entry that are far too common within Cook County,” Preckwinkle said in a statement.
The RTU will have 979 medical beds and more than 200 staff members, Preckwinkle's office said. It will also have a medical and psychiatric screening facility, 24-hour crisis and intervention services, a correctional psychiatric care clinic and secured exterior recreation yards.
The building has a green roof area of approximately 23,000 square feet, according to the city.
More than 85 percent of the jail population has tested positive for drugs, Preckwinkle's office said, a statistic that has been echoed nationwide.
The high rate of mental illness has also helped make Cook County Jail the largest mental healthcare provider in the state, officials said.