In many ways, Cindy Dormo, vice president, pediatrics, grew up along with Akron Children’s. As a recent college graduate with a health information management degree, she felt brave when she moved 125 miles away from home to take her first professional job. When she joined Children’s nearly 4 decades ago, the hospital employed fewer than 1,000 employees and was recruiting Bill Considine (now Akron Children’s CEO Emeritus) for the CEO position. Through her work at the hospital, Cindy developed professionally while helping Children’s launch health care initiatives that have made it the pediatric powerhouse it is today.
After 36 years at Children’s, Cindy leaves on June 28. She’s calling this next phase a “refreshment,” not retirement, as she and her husband, Tom, enjoy what each day brings. For now, they plan to sell their house, relocate to Florida and enjoy time with family and friends.
What brought you to Children’s?
I was completing my senior year at University of Pittsburgh. Children’s had posted a quality review manager position. I applied for the “interview experience,” never thinking I’d move to Akron. It was a good move for me.
What was going on in your life then?
I lived at home, commuted to Pitt and was my family’s first college graduate. It was tough to leave them. My grandma and grandpap lived nearby, and I remember they were mad at my mom for letting me move!
Have you always worked in the same department and role?
Initially, I was manager of quality review. When my sons were young, I moved into a part-time quality analyst position. I worked at Children’s for 12 years, then left to pursue a master’s degree. I joined another hospital briefly before returning to Children’s to work in managed care contracting. Soon after, Mark Watson, former chief operating officer, gave me my first director leadership opportunity. I was promoted to a new role as executive director in what is now Akron Children’s Hospital Pediatrics (ACHP). We had 2 locations then, which have grown to 30. I shifted to part-time and became an internal consultant, developing business plans for new Children’s services, such as the heart center and neurodevelopmental center. I was promoted to director of ACHP before Mark promoted me to vice president, pediatrics, 10 years ago. I’m grateful for Mark’s belief in me.
What have your biggest contributions been while here?
I hope I’ve contributed to and made a difference in recruiting and supporting the pediatric department’s talented leaders, providers and teams. It’s meant a lot to me to contribute to the growth of Children’s clinical services.
How has Akron Children’s changed since you started here?
Previously, outpatient services weren’t offered, except at a few on-site clinics and off-campus sites. Now, we’ve expanded primary care and specialty services and grown our ambulatory and regional services. Also, we didn’t employ many physicians, but that’s evolved to a predominantly provider employment model.
What gave you the most satisfaction at work?
It’s rewarding and fun to partner with Children’s physician leaders. My success is built on partnerships with Dr. Norm Christopher, chair of pediatrics, our administrators and physicians. Together we’ve been able to start new services and create better access for our patients and families.
With so many little children here, did someone or something especially touch your heart?
While helping during the “Have a Heart, Do Your Part” Radiothon, I visited a patient room where a family, staff and chaplain were in a prayer circle for a sick little girl. I joined in. It touched me to see how our families and caregivers connect emotionally and spiritually.
What do you look forward to the most in retirement?
Once we’re in Florida I look forward to visiting with family and friends and pursuing hobbies like watercolor painting, yoga, hiking, boating, kayaking and fishing with Tom. Eventually, I may volunteer with an environmental or wildlife group.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
It starts with sleeping in, enjoying coffee on the lanai, exercising and having lunch at a beachside café. The day is fun filled and includes friends or family, sunny skies and laughter. Getting hugs from my granddaughter would top my day.
Do you have any advice for people just starting at Children’s?
Engage and be part of Children’s events so you connect with co-workers and the community. Be flexible, welcome change and take advantage of opportunities outside your comfort zone. Be happy, and don’t second guess. There’s more “right” going on than “wrong.”
What couldn’t you live without?
Dark chocolate and close connections with my husband, family and special friends.
What’s the last movie you saw?
“A Star is Born”