Patient Takes Heart in Supporting Rush

By Tami McQuown

My first personal encounter with Rush University Medical Center was about 11 years ago. I was having chest pains, my heart was fluttering strangely, and though I had been diagnosed with mitral valve in college, I assumed it was only panic attacks. After several of these occasions, I was referred to cardiology at Rush and was given an immediate appointment.

Following blood and stress tests and a series of other diagnostic procedures, I was told by a cardiology intern that while my current condition was stress-related, there was a bigger issue: sometime in the past I had suffered a mild heart attack or cardiac event that had, in fact, caused damage to my heart. I was so unprepared for the news that I really didn’t know what questions to ask. I felt very confused, unsure about what to do and what my condition would mean. My father had died at 39 of a heart attack, and upon learning that I, too, had sustained damage to my heart, I was suddenly terribly scared and alone.

That evening I got a call from someone I had never met. Annabelle Volgman, MD, medical director of the Rush Heart Center for Women, was on the line, asking if we could talk. She had reviewed my case at the end of the day and, due to my circumstances, had felt compelled to check on me and make certain that I didn’t have any further questions. I was shocked that a person in her position would take the time to reach out to me, unsolicited, to make sure that I was ok. It meant the world to me, and I thought then, “I will serve Rush in any capacity that they will take me.” Ultimately, that service took the form of my participation on the Rush Associates Board, a group of volunteers like me who are committed to advancing Rush’s high-quality patient care through philanthropy and service.

About a year ago, I attended an event for Rush donors and volunteers, and there I was introduced to Dr. Volgman for the first time. I must say with a bit of embarrassment that I had tears in my eyes when I recounted how she had called me more than 10 years prior. Amazingly, she remembered me, down to almost every detail. I was then and am still now enchanted with the notion that someone so busy, so important in healing the lives of so many with much more serious conditions would remember me and care. Today I have the pleasure of serving alongside Dr. Volgman on our Rush Associates Board, seeing each other as professional friends with a common goal of supporting Rush’s mission.

It is an honor to serve those who serve others in healing, and that is why I consider it a privilege to serve Rush.

Related events

  • Rush Associates Board Casino Night: The fifth annual Rush Associates Board Casino Night will be held on Friday, April 27, at Cafe Brauer in Lincoln Park, with proceeds benefiting Rush programs, patient care and research. The event includes cocktails, food, live music, dancing and a silent auction. Learn more.
  • Women’s Heart Health Online Chat: Join Annabelle Volgman, MD, and nurse practitioner Lynne Braun, PhD, for an online chat about women’s heart health on Wednesday, May 9, from noon to 1 p.m. Visit our Facebook page to sign up for an email reminder.

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