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How we got started


In 2010, I engaged in a delightful phone conversation with Howard Cook, the first CEO of the Chicago Hospital Council.  Howard is now 93 years young and spends his winters in Tucson and summers in Chicago. Howard says that during the 1950s, he, as Vice President of the American Hospital Association, was charged with pulling together the various hospital associations throughout the country.  This included all of the state associations, the metros, and three regional associations, namely The Western Hospital Association, the Midwest Health Congress in Kansas City and the New England Hospital Assembly.

After Howard left AHA and became the first CEO of the Chicago Hospital Council, AHA no longer wanted to support this activity, so he continued it on behalf of metro associations.  This arrangement began around 1960 and continued through the 1970s. In 1980, the metros decided to incorporate.

In pulling together the incorporation documents, Howard emphasized the essential role of CMHA as being “idea exchange.”  Howard has on occasion attended the CMHA Annual Meeting and tells this story:

“Two men sit down and talk about their business practices.  If at the end of this meeting, they each exchange one dollar, neither has gained anything.  However, if each one walks away with one new idea, they have truly exchanged something of value.”

I love this story.  It reflects where CMHA has been, where we are now, and where we will continue to go in the future – sharing and exchanging ideas, and learning from each other along the way.


Ed Rode

CMHA Executive Director (2000–2018)

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