Teens and Tattoos

Teenager female with tattoo
By Lynn Mohr, PhD

The barista had at least six tattoos ranging in size from a small rose on the inside of his wrist to a half-sleeve depicting a landscape scene.

When I asked about them, he smiled and told me each one had a special meaning. Then he rolled up his sleeve to show a disfigured area of skin from an infection on one tattoo on his shoulder. His only regret was not talking with someone knowledgeable about the process — beforehand.

The T-Mobile commercial airing on television takes a lighthearted jab at regrettable tattoos as two 30-something women sit poolside, their backs emblazoned with matching tattoos. The song, “Always Something There to Remind Me” plays in the background. It’s innocuous and funny.

Yet sometimes complications from body modifications can be severe and permanent. I know. Because in my health care practice, teens often talk about body modifications but don’t ask questions about health safety, prevention or maintenance.

Believe me, beyond the artful ink are many stories of work that went awry.

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Rush Promotes, Protects Breastfeeding

IMG_3158Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that the Trump administration had pushed to block a resolution backing breastfeeding at a United Nations health assembly. Experts Paula P. Meier, PhD, RN, Tricia J. Johnson, PhD, and Aloka L. Patel, MD, explain why — and how — Rush promotes breastfeeding.

In recent days, considerable attention has been given to whether the United States optimally promotes and protects breastfeeding, using criteria defined by the World Health Organization.

From a global health perspective, breastfeeding is an early-life intervention that unequivocally enhances health and reduces societal costs, so its promotion and protection should be a national priority for allocation of health care resources. Not unlike immunizations, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and partial breastfeeding thereafter represent early foundational health behaviors that translate into lifetime health care savings for the infant, mother and society as a whole.

These health care savings result from a significantly lower risk of infections, allergy and asthma, childhood cancers, and later-onset noncommunicable chronic diseases such as overweight and obesity, hypertension and type II diabetes in recipient term infants.

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Pride Month, Beyond the Parade

Hale ThompsonBy Hale Thompson, PhD

As Pride Month kicks off in Chicago, many of us look forward to the Pride Parade in Lakeview, the Dyke March in Little Village, and numerous other performances and parties celebrating the achievements of the LGBTQ movement with friends and family.

As is tradition, Rush University Medical Center will have a contingent in the Chicago Pride Parade. And this year, both the LGBTQ Leadership Council of Rush’s Diversity Leadership Council plus faculty, students, and staff in the Medical College have embarked on several LGBTQ and gender-affirming medical education and care initiatives.

‘Say Our Names’

One of these initiatives includes an art exhibit, “Say Our Names,” by artist and film director Lilly Wachowski. “Say Our Names” is on display in the corridor of the Searle Conference Center at Rush through July 8. This is the first time the exhibit has been shown in a large, academic medical center. The goal is to raise awareness across Rush that, despite many important legal, political, and cultural gains over the last 15 years, transgender people continue to struggle for survival and access to basic resources such as health care.

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Speeding Stroke Treatment, Saving Lives

mobile-stroke-unit.jpegBy Rebecca Zobel, RN

I have been part of the Rush Stroke Program for a little more than three years, as the stroke nurse liaison at Rush Oak Park Hospital. So you can imagine my excitement when I learned Rush was going to have a mobile stroke treatment unit and that it was going to be headquartered in Oak Park, where I live and work.

With stroke, TIME = BRAIN, and with the Rush Mobile Stroke Unit, our goal is to decrease time to treatment and save that brain. I am proud to be one of the RNs working on the Rush Mobile Stroke Unit, and I am so excited about the opportunity it provides to our community and the suburbs surrounding Oak Park. The technology and medications we have on board allow us to literally bring the emergency department to the patient, and to initiate​ diagnosis and time-sensitive treatment for stroke at the patient’s location.

The first patient I helped care for reminded me just how important it is to recognize and treat stroke symptoms early, and how lucky we are to have this resource available to help us improve patients’ chances of a good recovery.

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On Loving, Leaving Nursing

Chris-DunmarsAfter 45 years of working as a nurse on what now is known as the Mother Baby Unit, most of them on the night shift, Christine Dunmars, MSN, RNC, retired on May 4. She reflects on her time at Rush.

When I first started, I was in the postpartum unit. They gave me a position on nights, and I didn’t want to work nights, I wanted days (laughs). What 21-year-old person wanted to work nights? Not me. I wanted to be partying at night.

After about two years, I said “Why am I regretting coming in?” I had to support myself. I was 21, I was the youngest nurse on the floor, I was from the country, from Arkansas, and everyone took me under their wings. They taught me how to take care of a patient, talk to a patient.

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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.

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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.

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