Join Rush in Celebrating Our Community Engagement

community-service-fbBy Marilyn Wideman

Rush University Medical Center is well-known in our community, but our community engagement remains one of Rush’s best-known secrets. To recognize and celebrate this work, Rush is hosting our inaugural Community Health Improvement Week.

All members of the public are welcome to join us between May 4 and 7 for a series of panel discussions, poster presentations and a keynote and awards session. You can register to attend the events here.

While Rush cares for patients from throughout the Chicago area, and even throughout the world, the main communities we serve are our neighbors on Chicago’s West Side, where Rush chose to remain even after other hospitals left during social unrest in the 1960s. This community includes the East and West Garfield Park, North and South Lawndale, and West Side and Lower West Side and West Town neighborhoods.

These are neighborhoods that struggle with high rates of poverty, crime, and the disparities in health that accompany them. Working amid these neighborhoods ensures that we at Rush see these problems, and our community engagement has developed in response to them.

I like the word “engagement” to describe our work with these communities, because it says that Rush is doing something with them rather than just doing something for them. Engagement means there is a give and take partnership as we provide something that the community wants.

To deliver services where people live, learn and work, we work closely with community partners in business, schools, shelters, faith-based organizations, and other endeavors. In addition to complementing each other’s strengths, these partnerships also provide Rush University students opportunities to work in the community and better understand the environments where our patients live and to which they return after receiving care at Rush.

Rush has a very long history of performing this type of work. We recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Rush Adolescent Family Center, which works with teenage girls to help them avoid becoming pregnant and to assist them if they do. Since the early ‘90s, Rush’s Science and Math Excellence Network has provided math and science education opportunities for students in our community.

During Community Health Improvement Week, you have an opportunity to learn more about these programs, both from people who lead them and people who participate in them. I hope you can join us in celebrating the work Rush and our community members are doing together.

Marilyn Wideman, DNP, RN-BC, FAAN, is associate vice president of community engagement and associate provost of professional education and community engagement at Rush University.

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