Rush Oak Park Hospital doesn’t have the healthiest relationship with its neighbors, but the hospital’s incoming CEO Dr. Dino Rumoro hopes to begin healing past sore spots come July 1, when he officially assumes the role.
“There should be open discussions about how we can find a way to coexist,” said Rumoro, a trained emergency medicine physician. “If there’s any gaps in that, I’d like to take care of that.”
The new CEO plans to be proactive in opening the line of communication with the public. Rumoro is already trying to plan an event in late summer to give members of the community a chance to talk with him and ask questions.
“There’s probably a breakdown of what the different concerns are. And I think we should do an inventory of what that is,” said Rumoro. “I could address those in public meetings and different types of community sessions.”
The souring of relations with neighbors coincided with the hospital’s years-long growth period under Rumoro’s predecessor Bruce Elegant, which included the opening of the hospital’s 55,000-square-feet emergency department in 2019. As its campus and patient-base grew, so did the traffic in and out of the hospital facilities. Parking became an issue, as the available spaces on campus could no longer accommodate the number of hospital visitors, leading many to park along nearby residential streets.
“That’s always frustrating,” said Rumoro.
Rush Oak Park is in the process of converting four hospital-owned properties on Maple Street into a surface parking lot, according to Rumoro. The houses that used to sit on the properties have already been leveled. He believes the surface lot will allow for 80 patient parking spots. The hospital, part of the Rush University System for Health, is also working on funding to build the multi-story parking garage approved by the village government for Wenonah Avenue – and the primary source of neighbor concerns.
To safeguard against any further issues on the hospital campus and in surrounding neighborhoods, Rumoro hopes to do a deeper dive into parking.
“I’d like to see a parking study done,” he said. “I’d like to make sure that there’s not leakage of staff parking into the streets, into the community neighborhood.”
Rumoro understands the frustrations of neighbors who feel as though the Rush Oak Park is encroaching on their homes. He has seen similar changes where he lives in Winfield, with the expansion of Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital.
“I’ve watched that campus grow and just gobble up our entire downtown,” Rumoro said.
He has no current plans to leave Winfield to live in Oak Park but is already familiar with the village as his son and his cousin both serve in the Oak Park Police Department.
Rumoro also understands and shares the desire for a master plan that lays out any future plans for expansion of Rush Oak Park Hospital. The hospital does not have any such plan currently.
“Where’s our master plan? It’d be nice to know what it is, and I think we owe one to the community,” Rumoro said. “I definitely want one for myself and my team.”
The wider Rush University System for Health, under includes Rush Oak Park, is in the process of hiring a master planning consultant, according to Rumoro. He requested to have Rush Oak Park included in that master planning process.
Rumoro already has a successful track record of facilitating growth. As chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Rush University Medical Center, Rumoro oversaw major renovations to the center’s campus to increase patient care and experience, as well as supervised the creation of the Rush system’s emergency medicine residency program.
His expansion philosophy for Rush Oak Park is less to do with growing the physical campus, snapping up properties and building additions. Rather, he wants to renovate hospital as it already exists, so that the physical hospital mirrors the quality of care provided.
“My focus over the next three to five years is really just to upgrade current facilities,” he said.
Rumoro also hopes to identify which services could be moved to outpatient centers and establish those outpatient centers closer to where residents live, so that Rush Oak Park can grow the more specialized services it provides.
He’s already made progress in that particular goal as the hospital now plans to build an arrythmia center complete with electrophysiology lab to service patients with complex heart conditions. The center will not interfere with the neighborhood, as it will be built underneath the emergency department.
During his six-month transition period, Rumoro has already done some strategic planning himself to determine other areas for growth and whether the hospital should grow those areas on or off campus. When asked if he planned to share any future or impending plans with the community, he said he’d “love to.”
“There’s nothing to hide,” Rumoro said. “I’m very transparent.”