Meet Vernon Cail, a research assistant with the Department of Preventive Medicine at Rush University Medical Center. He’s working on two studies, one involving childhood obesity and another examining food purchasing patterns in the Chicago area.
“We wanted to see what type of home environmental factors influence obesity,” he says, “so to do that we have to travel to the house to observe it, analyze it and assess the conditions.”
Cail visits homes throughout the Chicago area to meet with study participants, and while the traffic is trying at times, the interactions with participants make it all worthwhile.
“I really enjoy the relationships that I build with the families,” he says. “I enjoy spending time with people who share interests of mine: that’s to get healthy, to get kids healthy, hopefully get their household healthy.”
Sheila Gamble has been a pharmacy technician at Rush University Medical Center for nearly 25 years.
“My job is important because what I do is I make sure I try to get the drugs out to the patient in a timely fashion,” she says.
Most of Gamble’s work is behind the scenes, so she doesn’t have much one-on-one contact with patients. But they’re always on her mind.
“The most rewarding part about this job is basically just knowing that we get a chance to get the medications up to the patients, and knowing that in the end they’ll hopefully feel better.”
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.”
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!'”
Ludella Page paints a candid picture of her daily painting duties.
“Everybody thinks painting is an easy job, but it’s a lot of work,” she says. “We take a lot of pride in it.”
Page arrived at Rush in 1989 and is the only woman in the engineering department at Rush. Her work helps keep the surroundings pleasant for patients.
“We do what we have to do to maintain a good, clean environment for the patient,” Page says.
Stationed at one of the busiest intersections inside Rush University Medical Center, guest relations associate Patricia Harris warmly smiles and assists patients, visitors and staff. Even though she says “Welcome,” and “May I help you?” thousands of times each day, Harris has an impressive ability to recall faces and interactions, which she draws on to provide personal attention.
“We get to be like family here,” says Harris, Rush’s 2013 Employee of the Year. “I think when you know people, it feels warmer. The environment feels a little bit warmer and more welcoming.”