Annual Report: 2016 Year in Review

One compassionate clinician. One research discovery. One life saved. The power of one can start a chain reaction, a ripple effect that can do so much for so many. In 2016 Rush's people, partners and donors collectively improved the health of our patients and community. Because of the dedication of so many individuals, Rush is broadening its scope as a health system — one person, one partner and one gift at a time.

One Mobile Solution

"With The Grainger Foundation’s commitment, we’re writing a new chapter in stroke treatment by bringing the ER right to the patient.” — James Conners, MD, medical director of the Rush Mobile Stroke Unit

On average, a person loses 1.9 million brain cells during each minute of a stroke. That means that, for the 795,000 people a year who suffer strokes, each minute can be the difference between life and death or disability. The fastest way to save those precious minutes is to bring stroke treatment directly to those in need. Rush will soon be able to do just that.

In 2016 The Grainger Foundation of Lake Forest, Illinois committed to a generous four-year grant to create an enhanced ambulance outfitted with a CT scanner, telemedicine technology, appropriate stroke medication and trained personnel to diagnose and treat stroke patients right in front of their homes or anywhere they experience stroke symptoms. Based at Rush Oak Park Hospital, the Mobile Stroke Unit is among a select few of its kind in the country, its unique capabilities giving the unit’s first responders a head start in the race against time.

Saving Minutes, Saving Lives

Reducing time to stroke treatment can change hundreds of thousands of lives each year. Thanks to The Grainger Foundation’s support, Rush is now working to solve that exact problem.

See our mobile stroke unit and learn how it can speed up stroke treatment.

One Single Stem Cell

“Thanks to philanthropic support, our stem cell research breakthroughs can immediately be used to treat patients with the most challenging problems.” ­— Brian Cole, MD, MBA, sports surgeon and section head of the Cartilage Restoration Center at Rush

Health care professionals are just beginning to realize how stem cells can treat challenging conditions. But they are not magic cure-alls that can rewind time and eliminate disease in an instant. For us to fully unlock the potential of stem cells, we need to further the intensive research efforts that are ongoing at Rush.

Spine surgeon Richard Fessler, MD, PhD, found stem cells can help bring back hand function to patients with damaged spinal cords. Orthopedic surgeon Brian Cole, MD, MBA, and his colleagues are studying how stem cells can help lessen repeat rotator cuff injuries after repairs and reduce symptoms of osteoarthritis. And clinician-researcher Deborah Hall, MD, PhD, and scientist-researcher Jeffrey Kordower, PhD, are using stem cells to create new dopamine neurons to transplant in Parkinson’s disease patients one of a few sites in the world doing such work. With philanthropic support, these four, and others at Rush working in regenerative medicine, can continue making advances in understanding and harnessing the power of stem cells to revolutionize patient care.

Changing the Course of Medicine

With great philanthropic support, professionals are working at Rush to solve complex health care problems by using stem cells and other methods to harness and enhance our bodies’ inherent abilities to heal.

Watch how stem cells can change the course of medical treatment with and without surgery.

One Healthy Childhood

“Rush helped us make the most courageous decision of my son’s life. But they prepared him for everything, mentally and physically — and now, he’s stronger than all of us.” — Sharenne Shumate, mother of pediatric oncology patient Jamari Sanders

Like many osteosarcoma patients, eight-year-old Jamari Sanders faced the possibility of a full limb amputation during his treatment for this aggressive bone cancer. After evaluating his case, though, pediatric oncologist Paul Kent, MD, and orthopedic surgeon Matthew Colman, MD, knew there was another option that could provide him a more active life: a rare procedure known as rotationplasty. They removed Jamari’s entire right femur and rotated his leg 180 degrees from below the knee before reattaching it, permanently turning his ankle joint into his knee joint. Jamari left the operating room with two functioning joints, whereas a full limb amputation would've left him with none. A positive yet overwhelming experience, one of his constant sources of motivation was Rush University Children’s Hospital’s Child Life Services team — helping Jamari and his family make sense of his new reality.

While physicians at Rush are always researching creative and groundbreaking treatments, philanthropic support is what truly brings these ideas to life. In 2016 the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus brought their world-renowned show to patients and visitors of Rush University Children’s Hospital, while also donating to its pediatric cancer research efforts. Additionally the first-ever Chicago Decathlon raised generous funds for pediatric oncology at Rush, allowing more research than ever to transform into innovative treatments like Jamari’s.

A Brighter Future for Pediatric Patients

Our pediatric cancer patients benefit from these research funds and support every day at Rush University Children’s Hospital.

See how our state-of-the-art treatments and compassionate staff are ensuring the best options for other patients like Jamari.

One Veteran's Journey

“After closing myself off from the world for so long, this program brought me the guidance, healing and peace needed for my revival.” — Daniel Burnham, veteran

Like many veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, Daniel Burnham fell away from society, his family and himself. In seeking treatment, weekly psychotherapy alone wasn’t the right solution — but 24-hour monitoring and hospitalization wasn’t necessary either. Rush’s Road Home Program filled that gap.

A unique three-week treatment initiative, the Road Home Program's Intensive Outpatient Program, or IOP, targets the driving factors behind veterans’ post-traumatic stress disorder, military sexual trauma and similar conditions through group and individual psychotherapy and daily regimens of physical fitness and stress-reduction training. The Road Home Program continues to help veterans like Daniel re-discover their peace and purpose every day. Kick-started by a $15 million challenge grant from Wounded Warrior Project, the Road Home Program is able to develop this kind of programming through its participation in the Warrior Care Network — a first-of-its-kind partnership between Wounded Warrior Project and four academic medical centers in the U.S. And momentous support from the Woman’s Board of Rush University Medical Center and its 90th Annual Fashion Show, as well as the inaugural 2016 Road Home Program Benefit, have helped Road Home and its IOP become the Midwest’s destination for veterans’ mental health care.

Road to Recovery

Every veteran has their own story and struggle. It’s never a one-size-fits-all remedy.

Watch how the Road Home Program provides unique, personalized treatment to other veterans like Daniel.

One Game-Changing Partnership

“In the next five years, we’ll generate data from 50 times the number of brains donated by African Americans than we’ve gathered in 20 years prior — giving us a much better chance at finding more risk factors for neurodegenerative disease.” — David A. Bennett, MD, director of the Rush Alzheimer's Disease Center and the Robert C. Borwell Professor of Neurological Sciences

Our brains can reveal much about our risk factors for diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and stroke. What those clues tell us can change depending on where our families are from. During the past 25 years, David Bennett, MD, and the team at the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center, or RADC, have studied 1,500 brains, donated primarily by people of European descent, to find ways to treat and prevent neurological diseases. However, obtaining large numbers of donor brains from racial and ethnic minorities has been challenging.

Thanks to a new National Institutes on Aging-funded study in partnership with Jose M. Farfel, MD, PhD, and colleagues at University of Sao Paulo Medical School and Columbia University, he will now be able to do just that. The RADC will collect and study 10,000 donated brains during the next five years — offering a much broader range of ancestry, including African and native Brazilian descent. The partnership also allows Bennett and the team to track a greater array of factors for brain disease than before, such as four decades of pollution levels, and to study broader age groups than what is possible only in the U.S. Just since the project began in September 2016, Bennett and his colleagues have collected more than 350 brains — more than the RADC gathered in the previous 20 years. 

Solving the Complex Puzzle of Brain Disease

Thanks to donors such as the Lillian S. Wells Foundation, John and Alice Sabl and Rush’s Neuroscience Leadership Committee, we are accelerating the pace of discovery and expanding upon what we can learn about the causes of debilitating diseases of the brain.

See how Bennett and his colleagues are working to prevent and treat Alzheimer's and other brain diseases. 

One Future Caregiver

“Making your dreams a reality is a lot of work, but scholarship support is the momentum that keeps pushing you forward.” — Ashley Lopez ’17, scholarship recipient

Years before she’d walk the halls as a student, 8-year-old Ashley Lopez was wheeled through Rush’s emergency department as a patient. Nervous and afraid after a train derailment accident, she found comfort in a Rush nurse who held her hand while talking her through a CT scan. This was the type of passionate, patient-centered care Ashley knew she wanted to one day provide for her own community — and Rush University would help her get there.

Born and raised in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, Ashley is now one of 29 students in Rush’s Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences program — a bridge for students from a variety of backgrounds to pursue health care careers, ultimately improving the cultural competency of the industry’s workforce. The Carl E. Eybel, MD, Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences Scholarship, provided by the James and Madeleine McMullan Family Foundation, encourages the pathway of career development for talented students like Ashley who otherwise would be unable to obtain a degree. Additionally, a BMO Harris Scholarship — part of the company’s initial $5 million gift to Rush and continuous investment in eliminating disparities in education and health care — provides Ashley significant support as she prepares to join tomorrow's health care workforce.

Donors like these step up every day to support our future health care leaders, already working to make our communities healthier, happier places to live.

Leaders of the Future

As health care continues to transform, supporting future caregivers like Ashley ensures the field will be guided with the talent and heart needed to lead that transformation.

Learn more about Ashley’s journey with Rush and how donor support is making her dreams a reality.