COVID-19 nurses to Cook County: ‘We want to get paid’

WGN Investigates

COOK COUNTY, Ill. —They’ve been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic and helping Cook County vaccinate thousands of people.

Now some nurses say they’re fighting to get paid. 

Laura Skeggs spent four decades in nursing before retiring in January. She planned to spend more time traveling and being with family.

But then the pandemic hit.

In February, she answered the call and came out of retirement. She signed a contract with Cook County to help administer COVID-19 vaccines.

She worked up to 30 hours a week at county run clinic in Arlington Heights. But in the more than three months she was there, she said she didn’t receive a single check.

We don’t really feel very respected, not getting paid,” Skeggs said. “I’m a professional. I’ve never been treated like this in my 45 years of nursing.”

It turns out she wasn’t alone. Skeggs said she knows of several others who are waiting for their money.

One of them, Rochelle Mathew, told WGN Investigates she’s owed more than $41,000 for work dating back to February.

“I know when I spoke with the administration before they said it would take a month and I understand that,” Mathews said. “But it’s been longer and every time we talk about it, [they say] we have to get your purchase order signed.  It’s always something like that.”

WGN Investigates confirmed with Cook County Health that this has, in fact, been happening. 

“We are aware of a processing error that impacted payments to a small number of independent contractor nurses,” a spokeswoman said in an email. “This issue has been addressed. Some checks have already been mailed. Checks for any outstanding payments will be cut and mailed early next week.” 

Skeggs resigned because of non-payment. After our interview, she said she received a $16,000 check from the county but is still owed more. 

Meanwhile, Mathews is still waiting and trying to hang on. 

“I was trying to give them a chance but how long do you wait?” she said.

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