Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Q&A: Gabrielle Cummings talks transition to Evanston Hospital President

Gabrielle Cummings smiles in front of a purple background.
Photo courtesy of Gabrielle Cummings
President of Evanston Hospital Gabrielle Cummings talked with the Daily about her new role.

Former Highland Park Hospital President Gabrielle Cummings took over as the president of Evanston Hospital and Northshore Acute & Ambulatory Operations on Jan. 1. Cummings said she aims to foster collaborative teamwork across all NorthShore University HealthSystem hospitals.

Cummings oversees Evanston Hospital’s operations in her new position. She also took on the title of senior operations executive for NorthShore, which includes the Evanston, Glenbrook, Highland Park and Skokie Hospitals. She continues to spearhead the Endeavor Health Laboratory & Pathology service line.

Cummings said Evanston residents can expect changes to the hospitals including the new Endeavor Health Cardiovascular Institute at Glenview Hospital, the renovation of the Women’s Hospital and the expansion of Highland Park’s adolescent psych unit.

In an interview with The Daily, Cummings discussed the transition into her new role, ongoing changes and initiatives within the hospitals and future plans.

This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for brevity and clarity. 

The Daily: How was the transition from being Highland Park Hospital president to becoming the Evanston Hospital president?

Cummings: It’s been like coming home. I’ve been able to see familiar faces, but obviously, the role is different in terms of being the president of the hospital — also president of all four NorthShore pavilions. My scope has expanded, and I have to really think differently about how I lead, grow teams, collaborate and help mentor and support.

The Daily: What is the biggest change you’ve experienced so far?

Cummings: The biggest change, even though I had these kinds of relationships at Highland Park, is the importance of relationships with our city officials in Evanston and building those strong relationships with community leaders.

The Daily: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in your role?

Cummings: One of the whiplash feelings we’re having from COVID-19 is that people decided to leave the healthcare industry, and they’re not interested in coming back. The biggest challenge that I’m confronted with daily is recruiting and retaining staff. I have to think about how to become creative so that people find healthcare attractive. We’ve had some really exciting partnerships with some organizations like Oakton Community College and Evanston Township High School to create a pipeline of talent. But that pipeline is starting in high school and college. It’s going to take three to four years for that talent to get cultivated, before they can really enter into the market.

The Daily: Are there any projects you are looking to implement in your new role?

Cummings: We really have been doing a lot of work around well-being and wellness for our organization and for our team members, and so we have relaxation rooms and places where people can go get fresh air in the summertime. We’re going to be launching food pantries for employees that may have food insecurities that we don’t know about and new hydration stations. Wellness, well-being and healthy living are really important to me because I think if you can get folks to have a healthy lifestyle, that reduces the need for acute care.

The Daily: How do you plan on improving services for the Evanston community?

Cummings: Through a lot of listening and learning, so talking to community organizations to see what it is we need to do differently and better at Evanston Hospital.

I also want to make sure we continue to provide great inpatient care for our patients, and when they come into the hospital again, they know they’re in a supportive and loving environment. We already do a great job in the organization in terms of really being there for our community.

We’ve been really doing a lot on health equity, and making sure that Black women are getting breast cancer screenings or women in the lowest median family income.

The Daily: What keeps you going, and what motivates you in this new position?

Cummings: I am a huge proponent of meditation and prayer. I meditate every day, pray every day, which keeps me grounded on who I am, what I believe in and the fact that I’m going to have the gift of being able to go in and talk to my team, connect with them and help support them in a way to do their job as best as they can.

I was talking with a patient about her experience and the fact that I was able to make her smile in a difficult situation, that brings me joy, and it reinforces why I do what I do.

Email: [email protected]

X: @jasminekim1014

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