For every successful outcome in medicine, one aspect of care may stand out. It could be advanced technology or any number of other elements. And to bring each patient the care he or she deserves, all elements of care must come together seamlessly — each and every time. Here are three examples of how this integrated care works at Rush University Medical Center.
A team approach: Read how the team at Rush brainstormed to cure Dick's cancer.
Comprehensive care: Read how Bob got care for his chest pain before it was too late.
Innovative thinking: Read how Mary Rose is now walking pain-free after multiple joint replacements.
A Team Approach
One cornerstone of quality care is a multi-disciplinary team approach. According to Sohrab Mobarhan, MD, a gastroenterologist at Rush, this approach promotes communication and gets results. "A multidisciplinary team can come up with better, more complex ideas than individuals working alone," Mobarhan says.
The team approach is especially crucial in cancer care, where teams of experts from various specialties, such as surgery, radiation and medical oncology, and pathology, examine cases from every possible angle. Together, team members brainstorm possible treatments — an approach that expands the patient's range of options. Members of the team then meet with patients to help them create the plan that's right for them.
Not only is this an example of quality care, it's an approach that saves lives. Just ask Dick. He came to Rush for a second opinion after being told he had stomach cancer that had spread to his lung — and there wasn't much more that could be done, other than treat the pain.
At Rush, Dick's history and test results were evaluated by a team of 12 experts from different specialties. They brought a new perspective to his case that opened doors for treatment.
"We wondered if the lung cancer might be independent from his stomach cancer," says Mobarhan. If so, that would mean Dick had two separate tumors instead of one large cancer that had spread.
First, a thoracic surgeon removed the tumor from Dick's lung and, with the pathologists, confirmed during surgery that the tumor was, in fact, separate from the stomach cancer. This diagnosis confirmed that each cancer was treatable.
Next, Dick received chemotherapy and radiation therapy to shrink the stomach tumor before a surgeon removed it. Dick's stomach was removed as well to ensure the tumor was completely eliminated.
All Dick's treatments were successful. Now one year later, he is well and back to gardening and playing with his grandchildren. He appreciates the expertise and thoroughness at Rush that changed the course of his life.
"I feel great," he says. "And I've got a team I can rely on to watch out for me."
Bob was an active man of 67 who had high blood pressure — and he'd been having occasional chest pains. Bob's usual attitude toward health care was to avoid it whenever possible. But his chest pain finally forced him to call a doctor. He was impressed when he got to speak with a physician on the phone immediately at the Rush Outpatient Chest Pain Center. And in a single appointment he received a treadmill stress echocardiogram and spoke with a physician about the results and recommended treatment. The next day, cardiac catheterization showed a 90-percent blockage in a major artery in his heart, and doctors opened it with a stent. Bob is now doing well — in fact, a week and a half after his procedure he took a motorcycle trip with his wife.
The Rush Outpatient Chest Pain Center was created to address the need for comprehensive, nonemergency heart care that puts the needs of patients first — before they end up in an emergency situation.
The center builds on Rush's expertise in treating heart emergencies in a timely manner: Rush was the first academic medical center in Chicago to be accredited by the Society of Chest Pain Centers because of Rush's ability to get heart attack patients the prompt treatment they need. The thorough care that is the standard at the center may have saved Bob's life. "He likely would have had a heart attack had he not come in," says Gary Schaer, MD, interventional cardiologist and director of the cardiac catheterization laboratory at Rush.
A medication Mary Rose took as a child caused the cartilage in her hips to deteriorate, and eventually her knees were also affected. By the time she came to Rush at age 45, her condition was so severe that she could not get a full night's sleep and had given up her career as a chef because of the pain.
Given the extent of Mary Rose's joint damage, orthopedic surgeon Craig Della Valle, MD, who specializes in treating arthritic hips and knees, suggested she have both hips replaced and, 90 days later, both knees replaced. Mary Rose was skeptical — in part because other physicians had deemed her too young for joint replacement.
Because Della Valle and his fellow orthopedic surgeons at Rush perform thousands of joint replacements each year, he felt comfortable going ahead with the surgeries. In addition to performing extensive research on the durability of artificial joints, they have also helped design some of the most successful joint implants in use worldwide. These include cementless implants that are now considered the industry standard and a more flexible knee implant that behaves more like a person's own knee. Other advances in joint replacement surgery, including minimally invasive approaches to knee and hip replacement, were also pioneered at Rush.
Within a year after Della Valle replaced her hips and knees, Mary Rose walked three miles in a charity event, and today she is able to go out dancing with her friends again.
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