This is how Claudine Johnson cleans rooms at Rush:
“I don’t come in and get it done and it’s over,” she says. “I look at it and say, my grandmama would be comfortable here.”
And it doesn’t matter how long that takes.
“I’m going to do the extra it takes to make the patient and their families comfortable.”
In the course of a day, Johnson — who works on the 13th floor of the Tower hospital building — says she knows she’ll always have a chance to connect with patients. Some even come back to visit.
“Just the fulfillment of that is enough for me to get up every morning and come here.”
By Diane McKeever
First we had Black Friday. Then we had Cyber Monday. Now we have Giving Tuesday. A national day of giving, Tuesday, Dec. 3, is the day the philanthropic community comes together to support our local communities. In my role as senior vice president of philanthropy at Rush, I see firsthand the difference philanthropy makes — 365 days a year — and feel so proud and grateful to live and work in a community that is so generous.
Rush, like so many of Chicago’s longstanding institutional citizens, owes much of its existence and achievements to the men and women who were determined to establish a health care institution worthy of a great city. From families who have supported the health of our city since its earliest days to donors like BMO Harris Bank, whose recent $5 million gift will establish critical new programs to address health and education disparities in our city, Chicago thrives on the generosity of its own.
With the help of so many individuals, families, corporations and other organizations, we at Rush are working to make our community stronger and healthier, and the philanthropic support from our community makes it possible. So in observance of Giving Tuesday, to all those who donate their time and their funds to make Chicago a healthier place to live and work, I offer my sincere gratitude. Together, we’re making a difference.
Find out more at www.rush.edu/givingtuesday and help us spread the word.
By David Ansell, MD
We provide excellent medical care at Rush, and we all can take pride in the high quality of treatment we offer our patients. It’s important, though, that in providing care we have true compassion for each patient, and not just treat the medical problem.
Our late colleague Roy Bakay, MD, provided great insight into patients’ need for compassionate understanding in a video he made before he died in September, following a long battle with stomach cancer. Drawing on his mutual experiences as a patient at Rush and as a neurosurgeon providing care for Rush patients, he eloquently and movingly talks about the insight he gained into patients’ fears and vulnerability. Roy goes on to discuss the importance of truly communicating with patients about their condition and making sure their families are involved in their care.
A highly accomplished clinician and researcher who specialized in Parkinson’s disease, Roy knew full well how demanding work at Rush can be. He also recognized, and talks about, the great difference it makes if caregivers do, or don’t, take simple steps to make sure patients understand who they are and what their role is in a patient’s care.
I encourage everyone to watch the video and benefit from the insights he offers from his own experience with illness. I’m sure you’ll be moved by Roy’s bravery and inspired by his example.
David Ansell, MD, MPH, is senior vice president of clinical affairs and chief medical officer at Rush University Medical Center.
Before Caley Trepac came to Rush University Medical Center last November to undergo brain surgery, a friend gave her a teddy bear. Trepac, who was 14 at the time, held the stuffed animal close throughout her weeklong stay at Rush. “It comforted me and made me feel loved,” she told a Chicago Tribune reporter.
While walking the halls of the pediatric intensive care unit during her recovery, Trepac saw children who also had serious medical conditions but who didn’t have their own doll to comfort them. As the first anniversary of her successful surgery on Nov. 5 approached, Trepac decided that she wanted to mark the occasion by collecting teddy bears and donating them to Rush to distribute to pediatric patients.
She succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Earlier this month, the Plainfield resident and her family delivered more than 750 stuffed animals to Rush.
“I reached out to friends on Facebook, and word spread like crazy,” says Trepac’s mother, Wendy Frydrych-Trepac. Local businesses, the Plainfield Public Library, and even members of a rival high school volleyball team collected stuffed animals, and the family received financial donations to purchase additional dolls from as far as Massachusetts.
Andy Popolo is a familiar face around Rush University Medical Center, where he serves as a campus security officer.
He’s always looking for someone who looks lost, or, he adds, “someone who seems to be up to no good.”
“Anything that looks abnormal that doesn’t seem right, it’s what we’re trained to be looking for,” he says.
While Popolo may he seem intense, he’s got a softer side, too.
“A lot of my colleagues think I’m a very serious person and just straight to business, but I have a soft heart and I’m very compassionate toward people and situations.”
The best part of Reggie Thomas’ work is when she’s around patients.
Thomas is a transporter in the orthopedic unit at Rush, where she has worked since 1985. Her main responsibility is to take patients back and forth between doctors and nurses, testing areas and other parts of the hospital.
“I get a joy when I see them getting ready to leave and they’re actually walking out without crutches or even a walker. I just clap for them and say ‘Oh my God, you guys have graduated!’”
Thelma Gant with her Pink Diva’s Pink Project partners
My name is Thelma Gant. I’m a breast cancer survivor.
Back in 2010, I was diagnosed with DCIS — ductal carcinoma in situ. DCIS is the most common type of non-invasive breast cancer that starts in the milk ducts and has not yet spread into any normal tissue.
I received the best care here at Rush University Cancer Center, under the care of Dr. Ruta Rao. I was very lucky to detect it early by having my mammogram. I can’t stress enough the importance of having your annual mammogram check, which is key to early detection if diagnosed. Also knowing your family health history is important.
Once I was diagnosed, my team of doctors discussed my treatment plan, which consists of lumpectomy (removal of tumor), chemotherapy and radiation. After completing all my treatments, I wanted to find some kind of way to help women by educating them about breast cancer awareness.
In 2011, I created Pink Divas Pink Project. This group started out with me and four other women. The group has now grown to 11 members strong. We are starting to reach out to different community getting the message out. I was just invited out to Mount Moriah Baptist Church Health Fair in Harvey, Ill., and it was a great experience. I was able to make contact with this lovely lady who promised me she would schedule her mammogram.