Roseland Community Hospital President and CEO Tim Egan does not shy away from adversity.
Egan assumed his current role in July after a year as Roseland’s chief restructuring officer. In his previous capacity, Egan led restructuring operations for the 160-bed safety-net hospital, which in June 2013 received about $350,000 in emergency funding from Gov. Pat Quinn to keep its doors open. At about the same time, Roseland also received bond proceeds from the Illinois Finance Authority to help pay its employees.
The Chicago Sun-Times last month reported that Roseland lost $586,323 between April 1, 2013 and March 31, far less than the almost $5.3 million it was projected to lose during that time.
With Roseland now on a path to better financial standing, Egan now hopes to develop the Center for Breathing Easy respiratory health facility across the street from the hospital, which is located at 45 W. 111th St. He said that 22 percent of all Chicago emergency department visits for asthma complications are currently received at Roseland. The center would be the first project of the 100-acre Roseland Community Medical District, which was established pursuant to legislation signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in August 2011.
Egan acknowledged that identifying funding to build the center will not be easy, but he said he is up for the challenge. “If you don’t have the vision and you listen to the detractors and you let them win, everyone else loses,” Egan said. “People who are telling you ‘no,’ you just tune them out.”
Roseland’s president and CEO previously spent 12 years at Norwegian American Hospital in Humboldt Park, where he last served as a vice president. During his time at Norwegian American, Egan launched the Pediatric Caravan, a mobile health clinic for area youth. He is currently leading similar operations at Roseland and in his role as CEO of the Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation.
Egan, a father of four boys, is a resident of Lincoln Park. He grew up in Cicero before obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He later earned a master’s degree in nonprofit administration from North Park University.
The Daily Whale recently sat down with Egan to discuss Roseland’s current operations. An edited version of that conversation follows.
DW: Tell me about your leadership style.
TE: From the minute I walked in the door it’s been our mantra to say, “We are a close-knit family.” We’ve been through some tough times and now we’re enjoying some more positive times. We’re a family that’s focused on the future. This is really a team effort.
I ran for alderman twice in the city of Chicago and lost by a very small margin in the last election. So there’s no ego involved. I’ve already had that ego removed, stomped on and dragged through the streets of Chicago. … This is all about the family sticking together and taking care of people.
DW: How did you end up in health care administration?
TE: [Rush University Medical Center] was opening up a new clinic, Rush North Shore, in Skokie and they needed a manager. I went in to become a manager of that one clinic and through time it evolved into managing a couple clinics. Rush sold off those clinics to a private company. I stayed with Rush for another year and then went to work at [Norwegian American Hospital] in Humboldt Park. I was there for almost 12 years.
DW: Why are you drawn to this line of work?
TE: I created [the Pediatric Caravan] mobile health clinic at my last hospital and that just made me realize you can do so much and you can have such an impact on people’s lives that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. … I’ve got four wonderful and healthy happy kids. They’ve got access to great resources like a wonderful Chicago Public School. They’ve got all these great advantages, and I know how many thousands of kids in Chicago don’t have that. I don’t want to sound like some kind of crusader, but if you can change the lives of just a couple of those kids, it’s a life worth living.
DW: What lessons did you take away from Norwegian American?
TE: You’ve got to take care of your staff. I equate it to a sports analogy. If you’re the captain of a team, you’ve got to identify the strengths and weaknesses in every player. It’s the same thing I do with every employee. And you’ve got to get the best. If somebody’s average, you’ve got to make them better than average. It’s always about building.
DW: How do you foresee turning your vision of the Roseland Community Medical District into a reality?
TE: We’re trying to work with private foundations. We’re trying to work with the state; with the city. We’ve been in constant contact with Dick Durbin after he made his visit down here. Quite frankly, a year ago you couldn’t get a politician or a stakeholder to come here. Now, … Sen. Emil Jones III has been a tremendous stakeholder for us, [as has] State Rep. Bob Rita. These guys are both saying, “Close your eyes and look where we were a year ago.” It’s been a labor of love.
DW: Tell me about your mobile health clinic programs.
TE: When I came to Roseland I wanted to do [another mobile clinic] and that’s when I married in the Mobile C.A.R.E. Foundation. I serve as its CEO. It operates these three asthma vans and now this brand new dental van that has partnered with Roseland. It was a perfect marriage when it really came down to it. …
We had one day we saw 27 kids at a grammar school. Twenty-seven kids, 94 cavities. You’re looking at an average of each kid had over three cavities. So there’s a need in these communities for this access to health care, and my job is to figure out what programs we need to build, what we can bring to the table. Mobile dental has been a huge hit already.
DW: Why is Roseland Hospital so crucial to the community?
TE: It would be literally life and death for some of the community members if this hospital wasn’t here. And that’s why I fought so hard to do everything we can to not only keep the doors open but keep improving the quality of care [and] keep improving the programs we can offer to the community.
DW: Why is Roseland’s Level 3 emergency department so essential?
TE: We have gunshot victims, stabbings, beatings, rapes, and what will happen is we get a serious gunshot wound or a serious stabbing, what we do is stabilize and then we transfer to [Advocate Christ Medical Center’s Level 2 emergency department].
In an ideal world, we just would be allowed to be a Level 1 trauma center and be that resource the community and the South Side needs. And I believe institutions like the University of Chicago would be one of our biggest advocates for that designation. I believe we have the community will to make that happen. It’s going to take a lot of [effort], but it’s certainly a fight I’m willing to fight.
DW: Who are some of your mentors?
TE: I’ve had all these great mentors. From Mayor Daley to Gov. Pat Quinn, Ed Burke to Jesse White; Sen. Willy Delgado. These guys have all been huge influences on me. I see the tireless efforts they go through and it’s an inspiration. Jesse White says, “Before you go to bed, do something good for somebody every day.” And that’s kind of stuck in my head. I’ve told my kids that. If there’s anything I could pass down, that would be it.
DW: What do you like to do outside of work?
TE: It’s a fairly unknown fact that I do a lot of writing. I had a book that was published in 2001. It was called “Down Tick.” A friend of mine convinced me to try to become a stockbroker [after working for Suburban Life newspapers]. The only mission in that world is make as much money as you can no matter what, and I really wasn’t cut out for it. I spent 11 months trying to do it, and I wound up writing this book, which was more of a therapy session.
I have a charity organization called the Chicago Irish Brotherhood that we started back in ’96. When we were younger we used to do a 3-on-3 basketball tournament and all of that fun stuff. As we’re getting older we just have calm dinners. But we’ve donated money to Make-a-Wish Foundation, Special Olympics, Misericordia – hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of our time – so were pretty proud of that.