Creating a Welcoming Environment for Guests

Patricia_Harris_617x350Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including Patricia Harris — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

Employee of the Year

  • Honoree: Patricia Harris, guest relations associate, Hospital Guest Relations Department
  • Years with Rush: 3
  • How do you welcome people to Rush? “If somebody was coming to my house as a guest, I would greet them and make them feel like they’re welcome.”

Guest relations associate Patricia Harris is stationed at one of the busiest intersections on the Rush campus — the information desk by elevator II on the fourth floor of the Professional Building. Harris is often out in front of her desk helping the many people who walk through Rush’s hallways, from patients and visitors to students, staff and volunteers. She greets them all in a welcoming, caring way and helps them to quickly reach their destinations. Her efforts contribute to making the patient experience a warm and welcoming one at Rush.

Harris simply has a knack for reading a situation. In one example, she recognized that the grandmother of a 10-year-old patient, who made frequent trips to the Medical Center, was particularly stressed. Harris took the woman’s hand, introduced herself and engaged her in conversation. Within a few minutes, the grandmother was laughing and commenting about how nice people at Rush are. Harris is more than just a greeter and someone who helps with directions, she connects with people and provides them with personal attention.

Hear more of Harris’ story:

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Improving Patients’ Blood Sugar Levels

FoundersDayTeam_617x350Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including the GlucoseStabilizer Implementation Team — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

Bradley G. Hinrichs Team of the Year

  • Honoree: GlucoseStabilizer Implementation Team

For the last 10 years, Rush has been focusing on controlling patients’ glucose (blood sugar) levels who were in the critical care units. Achieving the proper levels can be challenging, which is why the GlucoseStabilizer Implementation Team was formed. They implemented a computerized insulin infusion program, resulting in fewer cases of hypoglycemia and patients reaching their glucose level targets faster – all with no operator errors.

The national average for how long it takes to get a patient to their target glucose range is six hours. Because of this team’s work, the new system averages only three hours. This team not only managed to come up with a safer, more successful way of controlling a patient’s blood sugar, the team also educated nurses on the new program, created a policy and procedure guide and a nurse pocket card and quick tips. This team collaborated in the true spirit of the I CARE values at Rush, which resulted in improved patient safety.

Hear more of the team’s story from David Baldwin, MD, director of endocrinology:

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Student Helps Save Health Clinic for Homeless Men

Jennifer_Wicks_617x350Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including Jennifer Wicks — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

Henry P. Russe, MD, Award

  • Honoree: Jennifer Wicks, MD, resident, pediatrics
  • Years with Rush: 6
  • How has Rush supported your humanitarian work? “Any time I had any ideas for an event or group that I wanted to see on campus, there has been the staff available, the funding available and more than anything, the students who are able to get it off the ground.”

Jennifer Wicks, MD, volunteered at a community health clinic based in a shelter for homeless men on Chicago’s South Side while she was attending Rush Medical College. When she learned the clinic was going to be shut down, she arranged for it to be relocated to a church. This accomplishment is but one of the many contributions Wicks has made while at Rush.

During her tenure as a medical student, Wicks founded the Rush chapter of Colleges Against Cancer, which works with the American Cancer Society to conduct smoking cessation sessions and fundraising. She also founded a refugee transition program that works with refugees in Chicago’s North Side neighborhoods to teach them healthy habits. In addition, she has traveled to Haiti with Rush physicians and nurses as part of service missions.

The Henry P. Russe, MD, Humanitarian award honors the memory and humanitarian efforts of its namesake — the dean of Rush Medical College and vice president of medical affairs from 1981 to his death in 1991 — and is given to members of the Rush staff who demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the well-being of others in their work.

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Restoring Patients’ Hearing

Keri_Kwarta_617x150Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including Keri Kwarta — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

Patient Satisfaction Star of Stars

  • Honoree: Keri Kwarta, AuD, CCC-A, audiologist, Department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences
  • Years at Rush: 10
  • How do you approach patient care? “I treat my patients like they’re my friends. I don’t want to leave anything out when going over their care.”

As an audiologist, Keri Kwarta evaluates and treats hearing and vestibular disorders. The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process the sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. Treatment options include dispensing and fitting of hearing aids, cochlear implant mapping and counseling patients and their families regarding the impact of hearing loss.

This past year, 19 exceptional clinical and nonclinical Rush employees received the Patient Satisfaction Star Award, which is given to individuals whom patients distinguish through letters or comments in patient satisfaction surveys. From this group of winners, a Star of Stars is chosen – someone whose service demonstrates what it means to anticipate patients’ needs and proactively respond to them.

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The Art of Earning Patients’ and Employees’ Trust

Gia_Crisanti_617x350Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including Gia Crisanti — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

Wayne M. Lerner Manager of the Year

  • Honoree: Gia Crisanti, RN, unit director, Cardiac Intensive Care Unit
  • Years with Rush: 30
  • What’s your No. 1 priority as a manager? “My job is to provide an environment for our staff to give the best care to our patients.”

As the unit director of the cardiac intensive care unit (CICU), Gia Crisanti often asks, “How can we do this in a way that is best for everyone involved?” It’s this devotion to not settling for the status quo that makes Crisanti a remarkable manager — one who is in touch with her staff and CICU patients.

It’s not just Crisanti’s approach to patient care that makes her such a great leader. She treats her staff as equals, creating a more cohesive work environment. Employees describe her as incredibly thoughtful in everything she does. She’s able to get everyone on the CICU to bring their unique perspective in discussions on how to improve the unit. Crisanti brings out the best in people.

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Helping Prevent Employee Injuries

Diane_Genaze_617x350Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including Diane Genaze — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

James A. Campbell Award

  • Honoree: Diane Genaze, director, physical therapy
  • Years with Rush: 36
  • What makes Rush a special place to work? “There’s a culture here that’s different. There’s a collaborative emphasis that is strong and that sends a message.”

Genaze wanted to be a physical therapist ever since she was in junior high school and, while most of her time is spent on administrative duties, she still relishes working with patients. “I love to lend a hand to make sure they’re getting the best care they can,” she says.

Genaze led a team that worked with the Medical Center Engineering Department to decrease injuries due to poor body posture and movement. No injuries have occured in the past year and a half as a result and Genaze’s team is now working to help Food and Nutrition staff members improve their body mechanics.

Named for the first president and CEO of Rush, the award recognizes Rush employees for excellence in leadership and dedicated service. The award is particularly meaningful to Genaze, because she was hired to work at Rush by the first Campbell Award recipient, Eleanor Stupka Heinninger.

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Arranging Medical Care for Patients Across the Globe

Nazmy_Hamad_617x350Each year, Founders Day honors the people who first established Rush University Medical Center as Rush Medical College in 1837. Special awards are presented to employees — including Nazmy Hamad — who have played a pivotal role in providing the best possible care for our patients.

Alice Sachs Memorial Award

  • Honoree: Nazmy Hamad, manager, International Health Services
  • Years with Rush: 6
  • What motivates you to travel so far and spend so much time away from home to help international patients come to Rush? “I was born in Gaza where a lot of people die from not having access to health services. It drives me to promote Rush to people that really need Rush’s help.”

Nazmy Hamad literally goes the extra distance to help Rush patients. Working with doctors and health officials in Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, Hamad identifies and meets with severely ill patients who can benefit from the medical expertise available at Rush. Once a patient decides to travel here for medical care, Hamad coordinates every aspect of their trip, which includes stays in the hospital that typically range from six to 12 weeks.

These families come to know and trust Hamad as a friend who is available 24/7 to meet any need they have. For example, he developed a bond with a pediatric patient who has been traveling to Rush for care for several years. Recently, he stayed late after work to wait with the girl’s family as she underwent a complicated heart surgery. Though the girl was groggy during the days after the successful surgery, she brightened whenever she saw Hamad.

The Alice Sachs Award was established in 1982 by Dr. and Mrs. John M. Sachs in honor of Dr. Sachs’ mother, a former Rush patient. The award is presented annually in recognition of a Rush employee who regularly and consistently delivers acts of kindness to our patients and their families.

Hear more of Hamad’s story:

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