Rush’s New Chief Nurse Talks about Quality of Care

Luzviminda Calo, RN, supplemental staffing nurse, talks with Cynthia Barginere, DNP(c), RN, FACHE.

In May, Cynthia Barginere joined Rush as chief nursing officer, vice president for clinical nursing and associate dean for practice for Rush University Medical Center and the Rush University College of Nursing. Barginere previously served as chief nursing officer and chief operating officer at Baptist Medical Center South, a 454-bed, acute care regional tertiary referral center and teaching hospital in Montgomery, Ala.

Rush’s Elizabeth Higgins spoke to her about plans for the future of nursing, education and patient care at Rush.

As chief nursing officer and vice president for clinical nursing, how do you envision your role of leading nursing at Rush?

I think the responsibility of any chief nursing officer is to ensure the appropriateness of clinical practice for nurses across the organization. The overall goal is to make sure that the nursing care is of the highest quality so that patients receive the best possible care and achieve the highest possible outcomes. The nursing care here at Rush has a reputation for being of the highest quality, given its three-time Magnet designation and shared governance model. My role, beyond ensuring the quality of the clinical practice, is to help the nursing service and the leadership team create a vision for Rush, so that we can maintain the Medical Center’s position in nursing and help to drive the future of nursing. Continue reading

‘Changing Our Communities for the Better’

Medical student Vivian Leung in the garden at King Elementary School

It’s a sunny Wednesday afternoon, and Rush University medical student Vivian Leung gathers a group of second- through eighth-graders around the vegetable garden she helped them plant. “Who remembers what this is?” she asks, pointing toward a patch of green leaves. “Aru-? Arugu-?”

“Arugula!” a boy answers, setting in motion one of many after-school lessons Leung has led as part of what she calls the “edible schoolyard program” at King Elementary, a public school on Chicago’s West Side. She visits the school once a week to discuss, tend and eat the vegetables with children. In the process, Leung is breaking down obstacles to healthy eating that plague many Chicago communities.

King is in the middle of a food desert — an area, usually composed of lower-income communities, whose residents have limited access to grocery stores or other retailers that sell healthy, affordable food. These areas foster unhealthy diets that can lead to diabetes, heart disease and obesity-related metabolic disease. Continue reading

Rush Students Bare Heads for Cancer Research

By Thomas Holland

St. Baldrick’s is a national organization that promotes the research of pediatric oncology by providing grants to various doctors and researchers across the nation. The money provided in the grants is raised by countless events with thousands of participants.

This year there have already been 902 events with 40,700 shavees. St. Baldrick’s is operated as a purely volunteer charity. It is hailed as a top organization that gets the highest percentage of money raised to the individuals that best utilize it, like Rush’s own Dr. Paul Kent, who was noted on the St. Baldrick’s website as the chosen caregiver for National Volunteer Week.

My own interest in St. Baldrick’s was spawned by Dr. Kent. While talking with him about volunteering, he took me around the floor and gave me a bracelet with the phone number of St. Baldrick’s.

The second annual Rush University St. Baldrick’s Event was on April 1. After an invigorating speech, we got down to the business of shaving people’s heads. Continue reading

Q&A with Rush University’s James M. Williams, PhD

James M. Williams, PhD, is a professor of anatomy and cell biology, biochemistry and internal medicine at Rush University. We asked him a few questions about his work and his experience at Rush.

Why do you love what you do?

It is a continual joy for me to see some of our students in action and learn about what experiences have brought them to this point. On the one hand we have students who come to Rush with such impressive pedigrees that it would be nearly impossible for them to fail. Others do not have the all-star pedigrees, but perform at the same high levels, and this excites me. Further, some of these students I interact with have such interesting “other” areas of their lives, time spent in the Peace Corps, opera singer, artists, etc. I suppose it comes down to this -– a reason I love what I do is the encouragement and thrill of working with some very bright young people. This does not change, either. Each year brings a new group of very talented people and I get to work them. How good can it get?

Another reason I love what I do is that it is a continuation of what I fell in love with in college. Two important things happened to me during my second year of college. I met my wife (who taught me to be a good student), and I met my academic love when I took my first course in anatomy. That was 1971, and both of those loves continue to this day. Continue reading

Haiti Journal: Visiting a Refugee Camp

Dave Unger in the pharmacy

Tom Wilson, assistant vice president, Research Affairs, and senior research administrator, is chronicling his visit to Haiti with a medical team from Rush University Medical Center.

Day Five: We traveled today to Jerusalem, which is distant from Port au Prince and home to a large refugee camp. The camp is a “temporary” home to people who were displaced one year ago when the earthquake devastated this country. Some of the families live in tents, and others are fortunate enough to have more permanent housing, which consists of a one-room building of cinderblock or wood-frame construction.

Our clinic was set up in two tents where patients were seen, with a lean-to waiting room next to the partially constructed Jerusalem Baptist Church. An adjacent home was used for physical therapy and the front “porch” was used as the triage area. I worked with Dave Unger in the pharmacy, which was housed in our bus transport (we got air conditioning). Despite these crowded conditions, we managed to see over 450 patients with a number of ailments.

After we left the temporary clinic, we visited an orphanage located within the refugee camp. Madame LaFleur ran an orphanage in Port au Prince with her husband that was severely damaged in the earthquake and could no longer be occupied. The orphanage houses 30 children in two large tents at the refugee camp, and we examined each child, providing medications as needed. We also left them with bags of treats, clothing and chewable vitamins. Continue reading

Audiologist Relishes Mentoring Role at Rush

Our Q&A with Patricia McCarthy, PhD, a professor of audiology at Rush University, is part of a series celebrating women in medicine.

How and why did you get into audiology?

I recall vividly the exact moment when I decided to pursue audiology as a profession.  I was a junior in college and still playing around with my major. I was considering a major in speech-language pathology and was required to take an audiology course. As I walked home after the second meeting of “Introduction to Audiology,” it struck me that audiology was the perfect match for me.  I was 21 years old and I have never looked back.

I suspect I was attracted to audiology because of its rehabilitative component. While the diagnostic aspect of audiology is critical to hearing health care, I was attracted to the patient-centered treatment part of audiologists’ scope of practice.

It is often said that hearing loss doesn’t just affect the person with hearing loss, it affects the whole family. Furthermore, hearing loss can have an effect on every aspect of a person’s life: social, emotional, occupational, psychological, etc. Consequently, what happens after the diagnosis of hearing loss is critical. Individualized treatment planning that includes the patient’s communication partners makes the difference in whether or not the individual can “live well” with hearing loss. Continue reading

From the Archives: Tea Times at Rush

An afternoon tea at St. Luke’s Hospital Training School for Nurses in February of 1954.

By Heather Stecklein

This spring, Rush University President Larry Goodman and Mrs. Goodman instituted a new series of University Student Faculty Teas at the Robert W. Sessions House of Rush University.

The teas take place on the second Wednesday of each month and serve as an opportunity for faculty and students to socialize and enjoy a presentation from one of their peers.

These teas follow in a long tradition of teas on this campus. The Presbyterian Hospital founded at the corner of Congress and Harrison and acted as Rush’s medical center for nearly 70 years. During the 1940s, it honored volunteers with special teas. (This reproduction of an article from the May/June/July 1944 Presbyterian Hospital Bulletin discusses one such tea.)

Rush also has a strong tradition of training nurses, and two of the College of Nursing’s predecessor schools provided students with a daily afternoon tea.

Heather Stecklein is an archivist with Rush University Medical Center. You can contact the Archives at or at (312) 942-7214.

It Takes a College to Raise a Researcher

Rush University College of NursingBy Melanie C. Dreher

If increasing the number of NIH awards is a measure of success, the Rush University College of Nursing deserves high marks on its research report card. In three years, we have gone from one NIH-funded project to eight … not bad, given a relatively small senior research faculty.

But these results tell only part of the story. The real achievement is that this dramatic proliferation was not accomplished by recruiting academic “stars” to bring their programs of research to Rush. In fact, only one of the eight awards was granted to a new member of the faculty. The rest were seasoned faculty members who had been at Rush for several years. For five of the investigators, this was their first NIH award.

So what’s different? For sure, the creation of an Office of Research and Scholarship led by an associate dean who is a researcher herself, staffed by a statistician, data manager and knowledgeable support staff who understand NIH requirements for format and budget, located in a designated space equipped with smart boards to discuss, assemble and plan the project have all made a difference. Continue reading