Annual Report

2014 Year in Review

At Rush, providing the best possible care is at the heart of everything we do. In 2014, like every year before it, Rush innovated across health care, research, education and community outreach. Rush is making a difference for our patients, students and community. Donor support makes it possible.

Preparing for Every Scenario

“Donor support built what I believe is the best simulation center in the entire region.” — Michelle Sergel, MD, co-director of the Rush Center for Clinical Skills and Simulation

Elizabeth Brewer Cornell and Alverin M. Cornell couldn’t have foreseen the Ebola crisis when they provided for Rush in their estate plans. Yet more than a decade after their generous bequests established Rush’s first simulation laboratory, simulation training played a critical role in Rush preparing more than 3,000 employees to respond to the disease.

Because of the continued support of the Brewer family, a significant matching gift from The Sheba Foundation, and an outpouring of support from patients, friends, staff and alumni, the first phase of the new Rush Center for Clinical Skills and Simulation opened in 2014, with an expansion of the center planned for 2015. The center’s features include several realistic patient care environments, such as operating and delivery rooms; lifelike patient simulators that closely mimic human responses to treatment; and more than triple the training capacity of Rush’s previous simulation lab. And when the center isn’t busy preparing staff to address emerging health crises, it’s giving teams of students and clinicians much-needed space to learn new techniques, improve communication and work together more effectively, ultimately reducing preventable errors and improving patient outcomes.

Gift Planning

Planned gifts like the Brewer family’s leave behind a legacy of innovation, advancing health care for decades to come.

To learn more, visit the Gift Planning section of Giving to Rush.

Detecting and Treating Lung Cancer Earlier

“With help from The Woman’s Board, we are closer to developing a simple blood test for lung cancer.” — Jeffrey A. Borgia, PhD, cancer researcher

Finding signs of cancer as soon as possible can make a major difference to a patient’s chance of recovery. With more than 224,000 diagnoses and 160,000 deaths each year due to lung cancer alone, the need for early diagnosis is greater than ever. But clinicians everywhere have been missing a key piece of the early detection puzzle.

With a generous gift from The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center, that missing piece is now in Rush’s hands. Thanks to their support, Rush was able to purchase an Agilent 6550 QTOF mass spectrometer, which greatly improves our ability to find new biomarkers, or indicators of the presence of a disease state. Jeffrey A. Borgia, PhD, and other researchers are using the technology to develop a simple, cost-effective blood test that can diagnose lung cancer cases much earlier than before. Furthermore, this instrument will also be used to identify other biomarkers that will help physicians pinpoint the best treatment for each patient’s unique condition, thereby improving their clinical outcome. Finally, Borgia will also collaborate with other researchers at Rush to solve research questions that could ultimately help find early signs of other cancers, opening doors for more progressive research.

The Woman’s Board

The Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center has a remarkable history, supporting Rush’s people and programs for the last 130 years.

Bringing Athlete-Level Care to the General Public

“Because grateful patients support our motion analysis research with the most complex cases, all of our patients benefit.” — Anthony A. Romeo, MD, professor of orthopedic surgery at Rush

Shoulder specialists with Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush had a vision: to take some of the motion analysis research they’d done to learn more about professional baseball players’ joints and use it to inform patient care at Rush. But when planning began, they quickly realized the resources to maintain such an effort were outside of their grasp. That’s when grateful patients and friends, including Ronald Tarrson, Steven Tarrson, and James and Georgia Athans, stepped in.

With their support, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush will be able to apply the advanced motion capture technology in the Joan and Paul Rubschlager Motion Analysis Laboratory to the treatment of a range of shoulder and arm conditions, including the most complex cases. Orthopedic experts Anthony A. Romeo, MD, and Nikhil Verma, MD, will be able to track and study patients’ movements before and after surgery or treatment over the course of years, ultimately resulting in enhanced care that affects the way patients move for a lifetime.

Honor Your Health Care Hero

Doctors, nurses and other caregivers at Rush work tirelessly to ease symptoms and manage your health. Grateful patients and friends who make gifts of all types and sizes can propel their efforts.

Giving New Hope to Leukemia Patients

“Gifts made in memory of a loved one can bring hope to so many others through promising research.” — Reem Karmali, MD, hematologist at Rush

Six years ago, Katina Kritikos was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia — one with a survival expectancy of 18 months. Today, Katrina is alive and thriving thanks to an innovative clinical trial at Rush, where existing diabetes drugs are used to fight cancer. In recent years, federal grant funding has diminished for efforts such as this trial. Were it not for philanthropic support, Katrina may not have been able to access the medicine she needed. 

Thanks to generous donors to the Robert L. Heidrick Memorial Endowment for hematology-oncology, the trial will be able to help even more patients like Katrina. Because so many friends made gifts in honor of the late Rush trustee and Rush patient Bob Heidrick, hematologist Reem Karmali, MD, and her collaborators can continue studying the use of existing drugs that may make care much more effective, while lowering health care costs to treat certain conditions. With continuous funding from this memorial endowment, promising and transformative research like this can come to fruition, saving and improving patients’ lives.

Memorial and Honor Giving

Memorial and honor gifts pay tribute to important people and acknowledge significant events while providing for people and programs at Rush.

Creating More Efficient Models for Health Care

“Thanks to the BMO Harris Bank grant, our research may lessen emergency room crowding throughout Chicago.” — Crystal Glover, PhD, BMO Harris Bank Health Disparities Research Fellow

Economic downturn during the last 15 years has led to a debilitating trend for emergency rooms: patients seeking treatment for ailments that are not emergencies. Many ER patients’ needs would be better met by primary care physicians, but many patients, especially those from underserved communities, either don’t have a primary care physician or don’t know how to access one. 

A $5 million grant from BMO Harris Bank is helping Rush — together with the Medical Home Network (MHN) and City Colleges of Chicago — to break this costly, inefficient cycle. As part of this complex initiative, Crystal Glover, PhD, a BMO Harris Bank Health Disparities Research Fellow, has been studying patient populations in Rush’s Robert R. McCormick Center for Advanced Emergency Response using quantitative data on visits and discharges, as well as face-to-face interviews with patients. This research aims to help underserved patients connect with primary care services through Chicago’s Medical Home Network and ultimately contribute to more sustainable models of care delivery, while allowing ER personnel the resources to focus on actual emergencies.

Corporate and Foundation Giving

Corporate and foundation support of Rush strengthens the health of our community and helps position Chicago as a hub for health care innovation.

Overcoming Financial Barriers to Medical Education

 “With scholarship support, I am pursuing my passion while minimizing my debt after graduation.” — Kate Savage, fourth-year Rush medical student and alumna of the Graduate College at Rush University

Raised on Chicago’s South Side, Kate Savage comes from a big, loving family. As is the case with so many families, her parents’ contribution to her undergraduate education left them with little to offer for further schooling. Kate self-paid for her master’s education but had limited finances to apply toward medical college. With generous support from Rush alumni, however, she was able to pursue her true calling.

Kate is now in her fourth year at Rush Medical College, and the investment these donors made in Kate has already brought in returns. Kate, who also earned a master’s degree in biotechnology from Rush in 2011, has taken full advantage of various volunteer opportunities through the Rush Community Service Initiatives Program. She offered her skills and enthusiasm to a homeless shelter, a drug rehabilitation facility and the Simpson Academy for Young Women, where she assisted teen mothers and expecting teens, proving her commitment to helping others, just as her scholarship donors have helped her.

Rush University

Rush University is a top-ranked university with an exclusive health science focus. Like Savage, Rush’s medical, nursing, health sciences and graduate students will truly lead the next generation of health care.

Fighting HIV With Existing Medicine

“Funding from my endowed chair gives me the flexibility to tackle challenges like HIV and aging with outside-the-box approaches.” — Alan L. Landay, PhD, Thomas J. Coogan Sr., MD, Chair of Immunology

We live in a time where people live long lives, even with conditions like HIV that were once seen as death sentences. But with new medical breakthroughs come new challenges: HIV patients are now developing diseases associated with the elderly, such as cardiovascular disease, at earlier ages.

With funding from the Thomas J. Coogan Sr., MD, Chair of Immunology, Alan L. Landay, PhD, has unmatched flexibility to pursue promising paths of discovery, free of constraints often associated with federal programs. This endowed chair allows Landay to collaborate with experts from different fields within Rush, and work with specialists from around the world to research treatments that will combat HIV without prematurely aging patients. One possibility Landay has unveiled includes the use of existing cancer and diabetes medicines to treat HIV — the kind of game-changing discovery that might be impossible were it not for private philanthropy. What’s more, Landay’s work is providing new clues into the aging process in general. This research has the potential to lead to earlier diagnoses of diseases associated with aging and help all patients live longer, healthier lives.

Endowment Gifts

Support for Rush’s endowment — including endowed chairs like Landay’s — provides a perpetual source of income to advance research, education and care.

Serving Veterans, Families on the Road Home

“An outpouring of philanthropy created a new support system for our veterans and their families.” — Chris Miller, outreach coordinator at Road Home Program and a Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan

Each day, Army veteran Juan Sanchez faces post-traumatic stress disorder. For him and the more than one-third of returning veterans who live with PTSD or traumatic brain injury, the stresses of daily life become their enemy. Now, Rush and a host of motivated donors have given veterans like Sanchez a safe place that they and their families can turn to for assistance and understanding.

The Road Home Program: The Center for Veterans and Their Families at Rush opened in 2014 with a staff of doctors, outreach coordinators, licensed clinical social workers and professional counselors. Together, they address the full range of challenges for veterans suffering from trauma-induced disorders and injuries, as well as the unique needs of veterans’ family members. Many staff members are veterans themselves, building a deep and trusting connection. Road Home can also serve military who experienced sexual trauma or those suffering from moral injuries, among other struggles. Early funding from Welcome Back Veterans, an initiative of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation and Major League Baseball; the Crown Family; Bears Care; Bank of America; and other donors has laid the groundwork for these new services. With additional support, the program will continue to grow and expand to help veterans and families lead healthy, happy and productive lives.

Road Home Program

You’d think that coming home would be the easy part. But transitioning from military to civilian life is often a challenge. The Road Home Program helps veterans and their families understand, heal and cope with the invisible wounds of war.