By Terry Peterson
Rush’s new hospital building and our other campus improvements will do even more than transform health care in the Chicago area. The Rush Transformation also deepens and furthers Rush’s commitment to our surrounding community, providing jobs, job training and other economic opportunities to the residents of Chicago’s West Side.
Rush University Medical Center has been located on the West Side since 1871, and over the past few decades, it’s played a key role in the area’s emergence from a long period of economic struggle and physical decay. While two other medical schools moved away from the struggling neighborhood, Rush upheld its commitment to the area by investing in new facilities, including the Armour Academic Center, which opened in 1976, and the Atrium Building, which opened in 1982. In the following years, the West Side began to flourish as other new and refurbished buildings appeared, including offices and condominiums.
In 2006, Rush reaffirmed its commitment to our neighborhood by launching the Rush Transformation, our 10-year project to renovate our campus and refocus the way Rush provides medical care. The transformation includes the Tower, our new hospital building, and other new and renovated buildings designed to better support patient needs. It also includes advanced technology that will improve the quality, safety and efficiency of the patient care Rush provides.
Another major part of this plan – less visible than the new construction but no less important – is the creation of opportunities for area residents. With more than 8,000 employees, Rush is the largest nongovernmental employer on the West Side. Therefore, from the beginning, Rush’s leadership conceived the transformation as a way to rejuvenate not only our campus but also the lives of people who live around the Medical Center.
To achieve this goal, Rush has been collaborating with local leaders and institutions to ensure that residents have the skills to establish promising careers and to keep the West Side prospering long into the future. For example, as part of an agreement between Rush and nearby Malcolm X College, Rush University faculty members help the college develop its health sciences programs, and the Medical Center provides clinical training opportunities for students in those programs. Rush also hosts an annual job fair at the college, where it identifies and often hires talented individuals from the neighborhood.
This talent is put to use in a variety of clinical and nonclinical efforts. For instance, to help build the Tower, Rush recruited and helped provide training for construction workers from the area. Rush also encouraged each of the contractors working on the transformation to hire a designated number of community residents.
With much work on the transformation remaining, Rush will keep calling on workers from the community to help drive the ongoing rejuvenation of the Medical Center and the neighborhoods surrounding it. Providing these opportunities will have a lasting impact on our community. By providing residents of our community with training and a stable career path with a steady income will ensure the West Side thrives for years to come.
Terry Peterson is vice president of government affairs for Rush University Medical Center.