Below is an excerpt of an interview with Billy Ocasio, CEO of the Institute of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Billy was elected as Chair of the Board of the Trustees at Norwegian American Hospital last October. Billy was born in Norwegian American Hospital and is a life long resident of the Humboldt Park community. He most recently served as a senior advisor to Governor Pat Quinn. Previous to that he served as alderman of the 26th ward in Chicago. In the interview Billy discusses the further development of Norwegian America Hospital.
What role do you think the Norwegian American Hospital plays in the Humboldt Park community?
Along with providing the highest level of care in the Humboldt Park community, one of the major roles the hospital plays is that it’s an employment engine. It employs 800 community residents. The hospital employs more people than any other organization in community. The hospital also meets the health care needs of the community. We see many people with diabetes and other health needs. Yet it’s more about what the hospital can become. It is a place that employs the most community residents and now it is in line to become a place that can meet all the different health needs of the community, including diabetes, behavioral health, heart issues and asthma.
What is your vision for the hospital?
We need to reinvent ourselves. First, we need to find out what are the health needs of the community. Second, let’s recruit those doctors that can provide those resources for the community. José Sanchez, the CEO and President of Norwegian American Hospital and the Board of Trustees are making great strides to bring in the best doctors to Norwegian. We have spent the last 6-8 months talking to doctors. We have recruited a couple hundred new accredited doctors to join the Norwegian American Hospital staff. We have also just opened a new 15-bed psych unit to deal with the mental health needs of the community. Third, we need to align ourselves with well-established institutions that can provide resources that we cannot meet on our own. We have a new partnership with the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital to further meet the community’s needs. Fourth, how do we utilize our vacant land to bring in resources? We are working with the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation to provide Latino veterans and their families with affordable housing. The new building, which will include 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms units, will bring a new holistic approach to meeting the needs of these families. There is no place that targets Latino veterans and their families and we want to ensure that those families are properly served.