By Richard Jaffee, 1936-2018
Richard Jaffee, the chair of Rush University Medical Center‘s Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2013, died at Rush on Jan. 23. Among his immense contributions to Rush, Jaffee was the speaker at Rush University’s 2013 commencement. His speech reflects the intelligence, foresight and altruism that made Jaffee a transformational leader at Rush.
I selected health rather than health care as my topic as it encompasses all of us, not just the vast health care industry. 2053, my target year, will approximate the working life of our 2013 graduates. A look that far into the future removes us from immediate concerns and controversial issues.
Let’s look at our health in three time frames: past, present and future. As Lincoln said in his House Divided Speech “If we know where we have been and where we are now, we can best understand where we where we are headed.”
When I was born in 1936, I was expected to live to 61. If I were born today, that number would be 81. Now that I am 77, the statisticians have assigned me 10 more years. Thank you very much.
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.”
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.
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
I 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.
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.
“I was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer during a routine colonoscopy. After surgery, I was fortunate enough to find myself in room 995 North Atrium. I cannot imagine a better place to recover than under the care provided by that team. After discharge, I entered a six-month treatment program of aggressive chemotherapy. I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the finest medical professionals imaginable in the Cancer Center. They were always a source of positive energy and strength.”
“Our world was rocked as I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Hannah Rose, who was born with Down syndrome, pulmonary hypertension and three holes in her heart. We were in the hospital for 70 days. On day 68 we received a generous gift from the nursing staff on the Rush bone marrow transplant unit. We were able to use it to buy a bulk supply of formula. This staff shared our story with the surgical intensive care unit’s Nurses Helping Nurses organization, who took our little family under their wing.”
“Navigating the health care system was a nightmare. By the time our daughter was finally transferred to Rush, we were traumatized. The 8 North JRB staff took amazing care of our daughter. We were a mess, full of nerves and anxiety. Yet they were infinitely patient, reassured us and repeatedly offered the support we needed. We saw the difference excellent medical care can make. My daughter stated, ‘I don’t know if it’s the meds that are working or if it was being at Rush for five days that made me better.’ We are full of gratitude.”
“Felicia Ortiz was my son’s patient care technician. Her actions and kind heart helped make a terrible situation just a little better for him. Each time she had any interaction with him, she was so kind and soft spoken. She always spoke to him with such respect and tried to make a connection with him. Her dedication to those around her speaks volumes for her integrity and excellent work ethic.”
“Working at Rush, I know what an incredible team of people we have. However, during my hospitalization my expectations were far exceeded. I was admitted to labor and delivery from clinic with new-onset, severe pre-eclampsia. I was 35 weeks pregnant. From the moment of my admission, to the birth of my daughter, to her transfer to the neonatal intensive care unit and then to the mother baby unit — each and every person who entered our room was kind and compassionate.”
“I was a nervous wreck while my love was in surgery. When it was over, Dr. Nicole Siparsky sat down with me and assured me that my love was all alright. She explained every question in detail, as well as what took place and what to expect. Dr. Patrick constantly came to check in on my love. He was kind, patient, informative and straight to the point. The nurses were very kind, helpful, giving and we felt they went above and beyond to make us comfortable.”
“My father suffered a massive heart attack. My parents reside two hours west of Chicago. As a nurse I wanted him to have the best care possible and suggested Rush. The transfer was seamless. The cardiologist in my small town was able to talk to Dr. Robert March, and he accepted my dad’s transfer. The outpatient follow-up, including a call from our surgeon, cannot be matched.”
“Dr. Srinivas Vourganti went above and beyond the call of duty by using the most meticulous, detailed, time-intensive procedures to absolutely minimize damage to good tissue during our brother’s surgery. He came to our waiting room, sat down and essentially gave us a TED Talk, explaining in terms largely understandable to a lay person exactly how he performed the surgery, what characterizes the healing process and the prognosis. Medicine and Rush are so much better for having the gift of Dr. Vourganti’s presence.”
“Our daughter has proven to be a warrior — handling each test, scan and appointment with such strength it would make any adult cry. Her doctor was amazing, holding our hand through the entire process. The real champions for her were the people from Child Life. Lori Franz made her last EEG seem like it was just that — her last. From sitting and talking with her to decorating the room in an underwater theme, we can’t thank you enough!”
“Dr. Rasa Kazlauskaite is unbelievably compassionate and caring. Dr. Rasa has made herself infinitely available to us and has allowed us to text her with any important questions and concerns we have. The remarkable care she has provided should not go unnoticed. We are truly grateful for her.”
Jill Feldman with Philip Bonomi, MD, a medical oncologist at Rush
Lung cancer specialists at Rush are among five worldwide recipients of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer’s inaugural Cancer Care Team Award. Jill Feldman, a patient at Rush, introduced them at a recent ceremony in Japan. Here’s her story:
When I was 13, I lost two of my grandparents to lung cancer, and six months later my dad died of lung cancer. Then in my 20s, both my mom and close aunt died of lung cancer.
Needless to say I was devastated and felt helpless, so I started doing advocacy work with LUNGevity Foundation, a national lung cancer organization. I also began getting scans every few years. All was good until 2009. I was 39 years old, had four small children and was president of LUNGevity, so there just aren’t words that can describe how I felt when I was diagnosed with lung cancer, the same disease that I literally watched kill both of my parents.
I have been in and out of treatment for the past 8 1/2 years. Lung cancer will be a lifelong roller coaster ride for me, but because of a better understanding of lung cancer biology, advancements in treatments, and my dedicated, passionate, collaborative care team, the cancer can be managed as a chronic disease, for now.
By Tad Gerlinger, MD
My first deployment was to Kosovo with Task Force Falcon, Operation Joint Guardian, in 2001. Three weeks after 9/11, I was deployed from Fort Bragg with the 274th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne) — the first FST sent into Afghanistan — for Operation Enduring Freedom. Two years later, I was part of the Joint Special Operations Task Force in the initial actions of Operation Iraqi Freedom. And I returned to Afghanistan in 2011 with the 936th Forward Surgical Team and served with the Norwegian Provincial Reconstruction Team. That was my last deployment.
In armed conflict, the vast majority of casualties and injuries are the locals — the civilian population. That was true for the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq back when I served, and it’s true today in countries like Syria. What’s happening in Syria with ISIS, where they’re using human shields, was very common for Al Qaeda, too.
In 2011, our special mission unit went in to get a high value target in northern Afghanistan. After our soldiers surrounded the compound, they asked the enemy to send out all of the noncombatants. As soon as all of the women and children had come out into the courtyard and our soldiers had gone out to secure them to safety, the enemy threw grenades at the entire group. So the majority of the casualties from that mission were women and children — and, of course, our soldiers were injured trying to protect the families of the men who threw the grenades.
By Amber Kujath, PhD, RN, ONC
Halloween is an orthopedic nurse’s favorite time of year. At no other time does a nurse who specializes in the care of bones get to see visual reminders of skeletons: decorations, bone candy, and perhaps an adult-sized skeleton t-shirt that says, “Give me a break!” For added irony, National Orthopedic Nurses’ day is Oct. 30, one day before Halloween.
But what is truly scary and more serious is that every day people suffer 8.9 million fractures each year worldwide due to osteoporosis, a common bone disease. Most of them are women. One in three women over age 50 will experience osteoporotic fractures, compared to one in five men over 50.
Those 8.9 million reported fractures do not include the fractures from trauma related to sports or falls from ladders and roofs. Additional bone disorders, like osteoarthritis, limit the ability to work for 8 million working-age adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control.