Parkland School Alum: ‘We Knew We Couldn’t Sit Back’

Comerford_JenniferBy Jennifer Comerford

As I headed to work on Valentine’s Day this year, I wore a ribbon that I made at Northern Illinois University, my alma mater, after the 2008 shooting at the school that killed six people. For the past 10 years I have worn the Huskie ribbon as a memory of the tragedy.

This year would be more of the same to an almost surreal degree. This year, my beloved high school in Parkland, Florida, would be the scene of another tragic shooting.

I remember hearing the news and thinking, “how can this be happening again?” It’s been 20 years since I graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. I can clearly remember feeling safe at high school and making friendships that would last a lifetime. I remember myself in the buildings, hallways and courtyards that I now have seen on the news with children running through them to escape. High school was probably the most influential time of my life.

Continue reading

Parkland, Rush and Our Community

By Larry Goodman, MD

The tragic killing of 17 people, including students, in Parkland, Florida, in February shocked and saddened all of us. Once again we were each forced to try to make sense of a senseless act, or try to distance ourselves from something that, unfortunately, is all too close.

Gun violence is a public health problem. It is also a Chicago problem. As a community of students, faculty, practitioners and employees, Rush is committed to finding answers to this and other public health problems that affect the quality of life and the health of everyone we serve.

As a health care organization, it is not enough to provide care to those who are injured and psychological support to those impacted by that injury. Similarly, as a university, it is not enough to train students only to respond to health issues in this limited way.

Addressing root causes

As we increasingly focus on prevention, we need to better understand and address the social determinants of health that are the root causes of gun violence, health care inequities and other similar public health challenges. To solve this kind of complex problem requires discussion, debate, immersion, partnerships and commitment.

Continue reading

An Unexpected Entrance

wolff-familyA lot of babies have been born at Rush. As far as we know, though, no one ever had delivered her baby in the fourth-floor lobby of the Atrium Building until a few weeks ago, when Laura Wolff gave birth to her son, Elliott Howard Wolff Claus, right in front of the reception desk.

Both Wolff and Elliott are doing well, despite the dramatic circumstances of his birth on Jan. 23.

Wolff had gone into labor around 6:00 the night before, but she waited to come to Rush. When she’d given birth to her first child, a daughter, Wolff had been in labor for hours, and she didn’t want to spend that much time waiting in the hospital again.

She even slept during the night and took a shower in the morning before leaving for Rush around 10 a.m. “I was 100 percent sure I was going to be in the hospital in labor for another 10 hours,” she says.

Continue reading

Gina’s Story: Catching Lung Cancer Early


Gina meets with medical oncologist Marta Batus, MD, and thoracic surgeon Christopher Seder, MD.

As a lifelong smoker, Gina knew the risks of smoking — but, like many people, she pushed these thoughts out of her mind.

“For years, my very dearest friend and I would sit on the phone together, have coffee and smoke cigarettes,” Gina remembers. “Then she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died from it. Even though I saw what she and her family went through, I was still in denial that anything could happen to me.”

Taking control

Five years ago, at age 70, Gina got a wake-up call to start taking control of her health: She was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She had a mastectomy at Rush and was soon cancer-free. With a new lease on life, she began running, cut down to three cigarettes a day, and started listening to shamanic drum chants and doing positive-thinking exercises. She also continued her regular breast cancer follow-ups at Rush with medical oncologist Melody Cobleigh, MD, and nurse practitioner Teri Dougherty, NP.

Still, Gina’s smoking history and age put her at high risk for lung cancer. So at an appointment last summer, Dougherty talked to Gina about her risk factors and suggested that Gina was a good candidate for a lung cancer screening test — a low-dose CT scan that can detect lung cancer at its earliest stages, before symptoms arise and when it may be most curable.

Continue reading

Helping Patients ‘Take Charge of Their Health’

Proteus is the world’s first digital medicine service, which unlocks never-before-seen insight into patient health patterns and medication treatment effectiveness. While Proteus Discover is FDA-approved, Rush is only one of eight health systems in the world implementing this cutting-edge technology outside the scope of a clinical trial.

Two Rush staff members shared their thoughts about working with the Proteus device, which helps encourage people to take their medication via an ingestible sensor the size of a grain of sand, a wearable sensor patch and a mobile app.

Kerensa Vinson, MSN, RN

vinsonI joined the Proteus implementation team in January of 2017. The implementation team has had the highest acceptance rates seen with other customers leveraging a population health approach to introduce patients to the technology. This experience, paired with critical thinking and problem-solving, has allowed our team to quickly identify improvements to the workflows.

My patients have experienced life-changing results with the Proteus tool. Patients have seen marked improvements in their medication compliance as well as improved or controlled blood pressure. In addition, Proteus has had the unexpected benefit of improving communication between the physicians and the patients.

Continue reading

Stories From Our Patients

We often hear from patients and their family members who want to thank the doctors, nurses and other staff members for their care at Rush. Click the images to see their stories.

‘Mental Illness Is Not a Normal Part of Aging’


Sandra Swantek, MD

Sandra Swantek, MD​, has dedicated her career to ensuring quality mental care for older adults. She will be honored for her work when she receives the 2018 American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Jackson-Siegal Clinician of the Year Award.

In this Q&A, the medical director of Rush’s geriatric psychiatry program tells us about herself and the honor, which she’ll receive in March in Honolulu.

Tell us about your background.

​I’m originally from Detroit. I received my undergraduate degree in communications from Michigan State University, East Lansing Michigan. I worked at a public radio station then a Detroit television station. I transitioned to communications work at a hospital on the east side of Detroit and created a community education program for a young hospice program. I recognized that I enjoyed working in a health care environment, and that I wanted to take on a different role in health care. I eventually realized that I wanted to be a psychiatrist.

I was 10 years out of school by then and not certain that I could do it. I started premed classes on my 30th birthday, all while working a day job. Medical school was both an exciting and terrifying challenge.

Continue reading