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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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 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.”
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.
By 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.
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.