When Billy Ocasio learned that Norwegian American, the hospital where he was born, was in danger of shutting its doors, he knew right away he needed to get involved. As a native of Humboldt Park, a largely Puerto Rican community on Chicago's northwest side where Norwegian is located, Ocasio says the hospital has always played a critical role in the working-class community. The loss would have been tremendous.
“There are so many families that cannot afford medical care, supplies or food,” he said. “For a community like this, where you have a lot of people uninsured or underinsured, the hospital means a lot.”
After serving 16 years as a city council member representing the Humboldt Park area, in 2009 Ocasio joined the board of Norwegian, a 200-bed, acute care facility originally established in the late 1800s. He was named to the selection committee to search for a new CEO and knew he wanted someone with the skills and experience to pull the hospital out of dire straits who also connected with the community.