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Connecting the Fox Valley to Academic Medicine

Rush University

Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) and Rush-Copley Medical Center (Rush-Copley) are redefining their existing relationship to expand academic medicine in Chicago’s western suburbs. Under their common parent, RUMC and Rush-Copley will fully integrate clinical, research, education and community priorities.

Both organizations have enjoyed a 30-year partnership that has stood the test of time with great success. The shared goal is to continue to improve patient care by uniting under a common vision for clinical coordination, health care education and research at every level.

RUMC will expand clinical research, the training of future physicians and other providers and specialty medical programs at Rush-Copley. These programs will build upon existing clinical partnerships in stroke care, cancer and cardiovascular surgery.

The commitment to patients is strong, and working together allows Rush-Copley to expand its personalized, community care with increased access to academic medicine. This is a meaningful partnership for both of our organizations and is really unique in the marketplace. While others are consolidating services within systems, RUMC and Rush-Copley are investing in new services and adding them to the community.

Streamlining governance will help the Rush system toward its focused goal of providing a single-level of quality and commitment to the communities it serves. Greater integration is expected to enhance access to RUMC’s nationally ranked clinical programs. Specific initiatives are anticipated to include the following:

  • Neurosciences clinical program development at Rush-Copley
  • Neonatal and specialty pediatric program enhancement at Rush-Copley
  • Expanded women’s health specialization and programming at Rush-Copley
  • Consolidated Epic electronic medical records system at all facilities
  • Emergency medicine physician residency program at Rush-Copley and RUMC
  • Expanded opportunities for work force development, health care education and training throughout the Rush system

To accomplish these new initiatives, a Rush system board will be formed. The board will oversee vision and strategy for the system. It will be led by the RUMC Chairman, William Goodyear. Dr. Larry Goodman will serve as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the new Rush system. Barry Finn will continue as CEO of Rush-Copley and will also serve as an executive officer of the Rush system.

Each organization has received numerous recognitions for quality, and both are recognized as “A” rated for safety, quality and patient experience by the Leapfrog Group. The Rush Obligated Group, which includes RUMC, Rush Oak Park Hospital, Inc. and Rush-Copley, currently holds strong ratings and last year received a positive financial outlook from the nation’s three leading bond rating agencies.

Rush Oak Park Hospital, Inc. and the other existing affiliates of RUMC and Rush-Copley will also be included within the redefined Rush system. Each medical center will maintain its name as well as its individual board.

The Rush academic health system will include more than 12,000 employees and over 1,800 employed and private physicians. It will have hospitals in Chicago, Oak Park and Aurora as well as numerous outpatient and ambulatory facilities throughout the Chicagoland area. The new structure and organization is expected to be operational in early 2017.

Additional Clinical Collaborations

Rush-Copley is proud to be a strategic collaborator with Rush University Medical Center in several clinical areas including cancer and stroke care.

Comprehensive Cancer Care

The Rush University Cancer Center comprises all of the cancer-related clinical, research and educational efforts at Rush, crossing 20 departments, divisions and sections; inpatient and outpatient areas; professional clinical activities; and the colleges of Rush University.

The collaboration between Rush-Copley Medical Center and Rush University Medical Center includes cancer patient conferences that are designed to improve care by allowing physicians from both organizations to consult one another on cases via real-time, state-of-the-art teleconferencing that includes patient pathology and imaging.

Physicians from both hospitals will have the opportunity to present cases each week in up to as many as 11 different cancer subspecialties. The patient’s pathology specimens and imaging are viewed simultaneously by all attending the conference and details about the patient’s medical history, current condition, and prognosis along with treatment options are fully discussed.

The conferences currently cover:

  • Digestive
  • Lung
  • Hematologic/blood disorders including leukemia, myelodysplastic syndromes and lymphoma.
  • Other cancer subspecialties that are planned to be phased in to the conferences include breast, brain tumor, gynecologic, head and neck cancers.

Both Rush-Copley and Rush University Medical Center have enjoyed a long-standing commitment to quality patient care over the years. While there have been many clinical program relationships between the organizations, this collaborative effort for patient conferences in cancer subspecialties formalizes the approach and allows for physicians from both hospitals to regularly review specific cases for best practices in order to  provide patients with optimal treatment plans. Rush-Copley is pleased to be able to offer patients this direct connection to one of the country’s top academic medical centers.

The goal for the conferences is to bring together the best possible thinking and resources to bear on the care and treatment of patients with cancer from the greater Fox Valley area. This teleconferencing technology instantly brings together physicians who are 35 miles apart to share information and care strategies for their cancer patients.

In addition, this partnership enhances access for patients eligible for clinical trials or other research programs as well as facilitates access to university-level care.

Advanced Care for Stroke Patients

Acute stroke patients who arrive at Rush-Copley’s Emergency Room can now be seen immediately by a Rush University Medical Center stroke neurologist without the specialist actually being there.  Rush-Copley has teamed up with the highly specialized stroke treatment team at Rush to make a neurologist remotely available 24/7 using a new technology called a telemedicine robot. The Rush stroke neurologist can log into a computer from anywhere and not only speak, but also see the patient and the patient’s medical information in real-time to provide an evaluation and help direct treatment recommendations.
The system is comprised of a remote robot placed in the emergency department and a control station using a laptop computer that has secure Internet connection.  Through the computer, the neurologist at Rush can control the camera to pan and zoom to view and speak with the patient, family members, and medical staff. The patient at Rush-Copley can see the physician on the robot’s screen, which allows for a personal exchange and two-way communication.

This new technology helps address the major challenges confronting stroke care: the short time window available for treatment and the limited availability of stroke neurologists who are required to swiftly and accurately diagnose stroke.

A physical exam to determine if a patient should get life saving clot busting drugs depends mostly on observation by a specially-trained stroke neurologist who monitors speech, level of consciousness, and the patient’s ability to move.
Patients have only an eight hour window of time for potential interventional procedures and a much shorter four and half hour window from onset of symptoms to receive the clot busting drug, tPA.  A stroke trained neurologist is needed to make these treatment decisions.  Treatments to open up blocked blood vessels in stroke have been shown to improve outcomes and limit disability. However, too few patients receive these approved therapies due to delays in arrival or treatment in the hospital.

The robotic technology is like combining Skype with a stethoscope. The robot is wheeled into the patient’s room in the ER, places it bedside, and the neurologist at Rush located at the other end of the electronic feed is able to control it the rest of the way.

The robot allows consulting doctors to pan in close enough to view a patient’s pupils and other vital signs, tilt up and down, spin around 360 degrees, read CT scans, and talk to the patient and emergency room staff.  The physician has access to the patient’s medical information through an electronic medical record.  Since the system uses a laptop computer, the stroke neurologist can log on from just about anywhere and provide a crucial time-sensitive evaluations and recommendations.