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2020 Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement

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Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center

Chicago, Illinois

Rush Medical College

The first medical school in Chicago, established in 1837, Rush Medical College of Rush University Medical Center continues to be a trusted community member, service provider, and leader where learners, faculty, staff, and administrators demonstrate their commitment to the West Side of Chicago and the greater Chicagoland area through coordinated and sustainable engagement and investment.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rush created Chicago Homelessness and Health Response Group and Equity (CHHRGE) as an extension of one of the 35 ongoing programs of the 30-year-old Rush Community Service Initiatives Program. Because of the longstanding partnerships and collaborations that have built deep trust, Rush was able to quickly convene the right group for the challenge at hand. Faculty stepped in to run the clinic and provide care for people experiencing homelessness when student experiences were stopped out of concern for their safety. And, working closely with the city’s public health officials and other health systems, CHHRGE continues to administer tests, address outbreaks, provide behavioral health services, and identify gaps in care coordination while laying out a plan for permanent housing. CHHRGE is now developing a playbook for scaling up the program beyond the COVID-19 epidemic, to engage health providers across the city and surrounding suburbs. The work Rush has spearheaded has become a movement in Chicago that will continue to systemically address health disparities even after the pandemic has ended.

Embracing the institution’s capabilities to have long-term impacts on the West Side of Chicago and the health of their neighbors beyond outreach, research, and clinical care, Rush has adopted an economic-anchor mission through which it aligns institutional practices — such as hiring, purchasing, and investing — with the needs of communities to improve their long-term well-being. This intentionality is evident in Rush’s focused recruiting practices, which leverage community partnerships to identify and provide critical support to job applicants during the hiring process to help them not only get hired but to succeed in their new roles at Rush.

The Rush commitment to creating a diverse pipeline of health professionals starts with programming they offer to nearby Title I elementary school students and continues through their partnership with the reinvented Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School, located less than a mile away. Since 2013, Rush has been providing mentoring, career exploration, professional development, tutoring, shadowing, and exposure to health careers to Crane students.

In describing Rush’s engagement with its community, Rush University President Sherine E. Gabriel, MD, MSc, says, “It’s in our DNA.” Rush continues its rich tradition of engaging across every community sector to push for a better, more equitable future for the West Side of Chicago and beyond.

Learn more about the Spencer Foreman Award for Outstanding Community Engagement

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