We Can’t Afford Not to Provide School-Based Health Care

Lemke_SallyBy Sally Lemke, MS, RN

Here’s a devastating fact for youth living in underserved neighborhoods: Poor health can translate into poor school attendance, lower educational achievement and a shorter life.

Now here’s a better one: School-based health care offers this group a chance to beat the odds.

Offered through safety-net clinics, school-based health centers provide primary, preventive and mental-health services to the children and youth who can’t otherwise access quality health care. The centers are powerful tools for addressing health equity, because they not only increase access to care but also promote educational attainment.

Research shows that kids in schools with health centers are 22 percent more likely to have had a health care visit in the past year. As an administrator for three school-based health centers serving five schools and 1,400 students on Chicago’s West Side, I see the benefits directly.

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America’s Health, Circa 2053

Richard JaffeeBy 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.

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Gina’s Story: Catching Lung Cancer Early

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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.

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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.

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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’

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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.

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Insurance Doesn’t Guarantee Health Care Access

angela-mossBy Angela Moss, PhD, RN, APRN-BC

Health insurance is a common proxy measurement for access to health care services. That is, if a person has health insurance, they also have access to health care services and time to seek regular visits. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case.

A new Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index shows the number of adults without health insurance is up 3.5 million this year. But those with health insurance also may not have access to doctors, nurses or clinics.

One of those Americans is my patient; I’ll call him Joe. He has worked two full-time jobs for all of his adult life. Joe is 57 years old and regularly works the evening shift six or seven days a week from 2 to 11 p.m. in a distribution factory operating heavy machinery. He then clocks in for his night shift warehouse job at another factory from midnight to 7 a.m.

For nearly 30 years, Joe has had about four hours of sleep a day between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. He smiles proudly and says he supported his family with his tough schedule. He put three kids through college and now all three are independent, successful professionals who are free from college loan debt. He and his wife own their home and two vehicles outright.

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