Annual Report

2015 Year in Review

To truly transform medicine, we need transformational ideas. In 2015 forward-looking partnerships helped Rush think bigger, reach farther and help more than ever before. Rush is making a difference for our patients, students and community. The support of our partners — especially our donors — makes it possible.

Delivering Care Where It’s Needed Most

“The Exelon Corporation has helped Rush guarantee sustained health care for this underserved population.” — Therese Gallagher, family nurse practitioner

Before the Sue Gin Health Center opened, many of the residents from Oakley Square, a mixed-income residential complex on Chicago’s West Side, had limited access to health care. This largely uninsured population often used emergency rooms for their primary care. Without a single institution they could consider their health care home, many residents found it difficult to make and sustain healthy changes in their lives. A partnership between Rush and the Exelon Corporation has helped to change that.

Established with a $250,000 gift from the Exelon Corporation in memory of its late board member and Rush trustee, the Sue Gin Health Center at Oakley Square is run by Rush University College of Nursing’s Office of Faculty Practice. Just as Sue Gin and the College of Nursing brought nursing faculty practice to Gin's company, Flying Foods, to provide much-needed care to its employees, the College of Nursing is bringing much-needed care to the previously underserved residents of Oakley Square. There, nurse practitioners from Rush and Rush nursing students provide primary care, getting to know the specific health care needs of each individual patient. What’s more, they deliver preventive screenings and promote health education, efforts to address the neighborhood’s immediate health needs and their wellness for years to come. 

Nursing Faculty Practice

The College of Nursing’s Office of Faculty Practice encompasses 20 direct care sites, including the Sue Gin Health Center, to address the health care needs of Chicago’s communities. There, Rush nursing students have the opportunity to experience diverse, real-world clinical rotations under the direction of nurse practitioners.

Learn more about how Rush's nurses care for our community on the Rush University website.

Mapping the Brain, Making a Breakthrough

"With partners like the Michael J. Fox Foundation and Parkinson's Disease Foundation, we can bring new hope to Parkinson's patients everywhere." — Jennifer Goldman, MD, MS, associate professor of neurology at Rush

Some degree of cognitive decline — not unlike that experienced by Alzheimer’s patients — eventually affects the majority of Parkinson’s disease patients. And while Parkinson’s researchers have made enormous strides in easing the motor difficulties that are the hallmark of the disease, breakthroughs related to cognitive decline have been elusive, with just one therapy approved by the FDA in the last 10 years. Until we have a firm understanding of what causes cognitive decline, it’s nearly impossible to develop effective treatments.

Rush’s commitment to finding a solution is one of many reasons why the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation, or PDF, has chosen Rush as one of just three PDF-designated research centers and why the Michael J. Fox Foundation has chosen Rush as a beneficiary of its support time and time again. With significant funding from these partners, Jennifer Goldman, MD, MS, has devoted the last seven years to the study of cognitive impairment in Parkinson’s disease. Goldman and her team at Rush have studied MRI brain scans of patients in various stages of Parkinson’s, identifying certain areas of the brain they believe are related to the disease. Moving forward this work could help clinicians not only intervene earlier with patients at risk for developing mild cognitive impairment, but then use each patient’s unique brain anatomy to target therapies to their specific needs.

Bolstering Parkinson’s Care and Research

Donors like the Michael J. Fox Foundation and the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation — which matches, dollar for dollar, gifts to the Rush Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Program — help turn promising ideas into meaningful discoveries for our patients.

Read more about supporting the Parkinson’s disease program on Giving to Rush.

Helping Veterans Through Virtual Reality

“Thanks to our donors’ faith in us, we have technology that could benefit thousands of veterans with PTSD.” — Charles F. Small, MSW, LCSW, clinical social worker at Road Home Program 

Wounded Warrior Project® partnered with Rush and other academic medical centers within the new Warrior Care Network™ to help create an entirely new approach for treating military personnel. With the partnership, staff at the Road Home Program: The Center for Veterans and Their Families at Rush are building an intensive outpatient program and expanding the care, counseling and resources they can provide to veterans and their loved ones. As an example, Road Home learned they could use virtual reality technology to better help veterans in deep levels of pain after the horrors of combat. With support from Wounded Warrior Project® and building off methods developed at Emory University, a fellow partner institution within Warrior Care Network, Rush can now offer virtual reality exposure therapy to veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.

The virtual reality program applies to all of the senses. The unit combines a headset, sound effects, a vibrating platform and a scent-emitting apparatus to fluidly and realistically transport a veteran back to tailored and specific scenarios: a village street in the Middle East, driving a Humvee through an attack, a medical center receiving casualties. The immersive experiences help break through deeply buried trauma that traditional therapy might not accomplish, especially since PTSD thrives on repression. Using virtual reality, the Road Home Program can help more veterans fully experience life as a civilian, with the pain of combat behind them.

Supporting Veterans on the Road Home

The Road Home Program helps veterans and their families connect with care and counseling to overcome the invisible wounds of war. Now, a $15 million challenge grant from the Wounded Warrior Project offers Rush an unprecedented opportunity to expand these efforts.

Learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project grant and the Road Home Program’s expansion plans.

Investing in the Next Generation

“The path to my nursing career has been long. Knowing that Rush faculty have invested in my success makes the climb easier.” — Megan Childs, Rush University Golf Outing scholarship recipient

Rush student Megan Childs is working toward her second graduate degree: a generalist entry master’s degree in nursing. This is the kind of program that she says will open countless doors, preparing her to ultimately pursue a position in any number of nursing specialties. And, like so many students in her position, she’s amassed a daunting collection of student loans to get her to this point.

Faculty have become some of Rush University’s greatest partners in helping students ease this mounting burden of debt. Generous gifts from practices like Affiliated Radiologists, Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, University Anesthesiologists, University Pathologists and Women's Health Consultants help fuel growth in student scholarships. And from their leadership and participation in events like the Rush University Golf Outing — the initiative that funded Megan's scholarship — to their individual giving throughout the year, Rush faculty set good examples for research, education, practice and generosity, providing more than $1.4 million in total support during FY15 alone. 

Supporting Tomorrow's Health Care Professionals

Rush students like Megan will lead the next generation of health care. Scholarship support helps them realize their full potential.

Learn more about scholarship support on Giving to Rush.

Fighting Cancer as a Team

“Because of Swim Across America, I have seen my doctors and nurses raising money on their own time for cancer research that could help me.” — Emily Crabtree, Rush cancer patient and Swim Across America fundraiser

Nothing stops Emily Crabtree from participating in Swim Across America - Chicago — not even her own continuing fight against cancer. Now 32 years old, Crabtree has been in cancer treatment for 13 years, most recently in chemotherapy at Rush to ward off nodules in her left lung. But her enthusiasm and unwavering commitment for Swim Across America - Chicago, an annual swimming event that raises money for cancer research at Rush, has inspired an ever-growing group of participants — including her own health care professionals. Crabtree and radiation oncologist Andrew Walker, MD, combined their efforts to recruit participants and fundraisers, fostering an energetic movement within Rush that builds every year.

More than $1 million has been raised since 2012, when Swim Across America chose Rush as the beneficiary of its support for research into promising and transformative methods to treat the disease. The funding has given innovative and singular approaches to cancer treatment and prevention a necessary boost, leading to further support from the National Institutes of Health, a key to taking potential breakthroughs from the lab to the bedside.

Swimming for Cancer Research

Swim Across America is a national nonprofit organization that raises money for cancer research through swimming events, such as the Chicago Open Water Swim with Rush. Money raised by the swimmers goes to a cancer research center in the same community where the events take place.

Learn more about the 2015 event and how the partnership with SAA raised more than $1 million for cancer research at Rush.

Developing New Models of Care

“Addressing prevention now can reduce chronic diseases and hospital stays later, improving the quality of life for so many families.” — Monique Reed, PhD, RN, BMO Harris Bank Health Disparities Fellow

In Chicago’s most vulnerable communities, underserved populations at high risk for disease continue to suffer from lack of education and access to the right health care. Together with BMO Harris Bank, Rush is stepping in to reduce these health and education disparities through the Building Healthy Urban Communities project, established in 2013 with a $5 million gift from BMO Harris Bank. As part of this comprehensive initiative, Monique Reed, PhD, RN, a BMO Harris Bank Health Disparities Fellow, identifies health care barriers and preventive solutions at Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, part of the Chicago Public School system.

Reed researches the importance of parental involvement in obesity prevention among black adolescent girls — an issue that hasn’t been studied in three decades. Working directly with female students and their mothers, she identifies the kind of support that would help them lead healthier lifestyles. Additionally Reed hosts an after-school “Health Ambassadors Club,” where Rush nursing students take this work a step further, developing a curriculum to train Crane students to promote healthy eating and physical activity to the entire school as Health Ambassadors. Ultimately this work has the potential to create a new model for preventive adolescent care, affecting the health of these communities for decades to come.

Building Healthy Urban Communities

A $5 million donation from BMO Harris Bank set in motion new, sustainable models of health care delivery to bolster care for people in underserved communities on Chicago’s West and South Sides.

Read more about the Building Healthy Urban Communities project.

Taking Medicine Above and Abroad

“Our partners help us meet the needs of the underserved, not just locally but across a greater, global footprint.” — Stephanie Wang, MD, director of the Global Health Initiative

Water borne illness and dehydration strike frequently in the Dominican Republic village of Peralta — where no real, consistent primary health care exists for its more than 8,500 residents. These are the kinds of critical health threats that partners like the Chauncey and Marion D. McCormick Family Foundation enable Rush’s Global Health Initiative to address.

The foundation’s support, totaling more than $260,000 over five years, helped establish a permanent water filtration system, creating a consistent source of purified water in Peralta. And, shortly after the recent Haiti earthquake, the same partnership allowed the global health team to tend to the needs of the Port-au-Prince community — building a clinic and establishing a similar water project to be integrated into the local health system. But these projects are only part of how multispecialty teams of physicians, students and residents exemplify Rush’s mission at a global level — treating hundreds of patients each trip abroad and helping underserved communities establish and sustain public health and medical services for years to come.


Enhancing the Rush Curriculum

Through the Global Health Initiative, Rush students get to help meet the health care needs of international communities, refining their skills and gaining valuable exposure to diverse patient populations. 

Learn more about one Rush student’s experience helping these patients abroad.