Meeting the health care needs of our community starts with our commitment to be a good neighbor. The health and well-being of the village of Oak Park has been at the very core of RUSH Oak Park Hospital’s mission for 116 years — providing the highest quality, most accessible health care for the residents of Oak Park.

Convenient access to world-class care locally supports the wellness and vibrancy of any community. As a community evolves and grows, so too must its essential services. RUSH Oak Park Hospital is among the essential services of the village of Oak Park. It is among myriad reasons residents choose to call our village home. 

The hospital is part of the Rush University System for Health through which we educate and train the best providers, undertake cutting-edge clinical research and use the latest in health care technology. This level of care and education is best achieved in state-of-the-art facilities that meet current code and ADA requirements on behalf of our patients and staff.

The newest building that meets current health-care architectural standards is the 2019 Emergency Department on Madison Street. However, world-class health care is currently being delivered in facilities that are well past their expected useful life, including the original 1907 east building. 

On May 4, the Village of Oak Park Planning Commission will consider zoning amendments that would significantly hamper RUSH Oak Park Hospital’s ability to continue to carry out that mission well into the future. While the changes outlined in the amendments before the planning commission may seem like common-sense solutions to some, in reality they will threaten RUSH Oak Park Hospital’s existence as a full-service hospital and put the community at risk in the future.

We have strived to be a good and vital neighbor to all in Oak Park for over a century, from providing health-care services every day for our neighbors and all village residents to serving on the front lines of emergencies and health-care crises to protect our community.

In 2021 alone, the hospital contributed more than $17.4 million in charity care to support health equity.

The zoning proposal will, in fact, restrict and discourage future improvement to the hospital, limiting the medical services that can be provided to our community and surrounding areas from this location. By placing these constraints on an organization whose very mission is to meet the health-care needs of its community, this only serves to put our community at risk.

Our hospital must be on the leading edge of change, not years behind it, and RUSH will be unable to do that for the residents of Oak Park if constrained by codes that neither account nor allow for important medical and scientific progress.

In the coming years, we will need to enhance certain facilities to keep pace with rapidly evolving health-care technology and care delivery methods. While there are no specific plans for that currently, RUSH Oak Park Hospital — like any health-care provider — needs the flexibility to accommodate these changes.

RUSH Oak Park Hospital is deeply committed to working with the village, our neighbors, and the entire community to evaluate any new proposals when they are made so our hospital can continue to grow along with our entire community. We will follow all existing processes transparently and with public input. As a longtime member of the community, I not only expect it — I welcome it — knowing that they are there to protect the interests of all Oak Park residents.

Maintaining the current zoning will ensure that Oak Park residents continue to have access to the high-quality care tailored to their ever-changing needs that RUSH is proud to deliver.

Gary McCullough is chair of the RUSH Oak Park Board of Directors.

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