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May 11, 2011

Rush University Medical Center Honored for Promoting Access and Equity

CHICAGO—Rush University Medical Center has been selected as the Illinois Interagency Committee on Employees with Disabilities (ICED) business/non-profit organization of the year. The ICED award is a top honor given by the State of Illinois in the area of accessibility and disability rights. The award will be presented in Springfield, IL on Wednesday, May 11.

“Support from the Rush leadership has been steadfast. I am proud of this recognition and of Rush. As a researcher and academician, I am pleased to continue in the work I have done to help enable Rush students, employees and patients to participate fully in the life of our institution,” said Eugene J. Thonar, PhD, professor of Biochemistry, Orthopedic Surgery, and Internal Medicine, Rush Medical College.

Seven representatives of the Rush ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Task Force will attend the ICED Award Ceremony in Springfield.

The award was accepted by three of the long-term Task Force members:

-Beverly B. Huckman, associate vice president for Equal Opportunity and chair, ADA Task Force, Rush University Medical Center.

-Lois A. Halstead, PhD, RN, vice president, Rush University Medical Center, and vice provost, Rush University.

-Eugene J. Thonar, PhD

“For over three decades, the Rush approach to equal opportunity and diversity has not wavered. It is that equal opportunity and diversity in employment, education and the delivery of health care are essential and must be furthered,” said Larry J. Goodman, president of Rush University and CEO of Rush.

ICED’s mission is to improve access and opportunity for employees with disabilities to further disability rights in the State of Illinois. To be designated for this award, an Illinois business or non-profit organization must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Enhance the independence of people with disabilities, or
  • Contribute to improved access to facilities or programs in the state, or
  • Address attitudinal barriers facing people with disabilities.

ICED is a committee composed of the following state agencies and four governor-appointed state employees with disabilities:

  • Department of Human Rights, Rocco Claps, Co-Chair
  • Department of Human Services, Michelle R.B. Saddler, Co-Chair
  • Department of Central Management Services
  • Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Civil Service Commission

In recognition of these and other efforts, Rush has been honored with the US Department of Labor’s EVE (Exemplary Voluntary Efforts) Award and the Henry Betts, MD, Award from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, and has also been cited in 2007 as “setting the standard of excellence in America” in a major report funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation on the crisis of health care for people with disabilities.

Among the many Rush programs in the area of accessibility and disability rights are the following:

Improved Access and Services

  • Continued implementation of accessibility audit recommendations
  • Electric doors at major entrances and other high use locations
  • More parking spaces for people with disabilities, and parking garage modifications to improve accessibility
  • Reduced-rate valet parking for patients and visitors with disabilities
  • Attendants and wheelchairs in key locations for anyone who needs such assistance
  • More fully accessible restrooms
  • Modifications in elevators, which include installing mirrors to help people using wheelchairs and motorized vehicles
  • New telephone system throughout medical center with volume controls on all phones
  • Teletypewriters (TTY) in key locations throughout the Medical Center and University
  • Sign language and foreign language interpreter programs for patients and their families, coordinated through Volunteer Services
  • Sign language classes for Rush employees and students
  • Creation of Rush University Disability Assessment Team
  • Infrared amplification devices in classrooms of Armour Academic Center
  • Assistance in the cafeteria
  • Patients With Special Needs Program (to raise awareness among staff and improve care for patients with disabilities)
  • Policy on Service Animals for inpatients, outpatients, employees, students, and visitors
  • Modifications for fourth-floor Atrium patient information desk to improve accommodations for persons using wheelchairs and having other special needs
  • Implementation of a content management system (CMS), making the Rush website more accessible to people with disabilities
  • Adjustable mammography tables, Hoyer lifts, and other special equipment to improve accessibility to health services

Outreach and Education

  • Annual Thonar Award to recognize Rush individuals whose efforts "turn a disability into a possibility," 1991-present
  • Recognition of the City of Chicago for 15 years of ADA leadership
  • Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters to Marca Bristo, president of Access Living and past chair of the National Council on Disability
  • Promotion of Disability Awareness Month and Rush Rehabilitation Week
  • Nomination of qualified candidates for external awards, such as the City of Chicago's August W. Christmann Awards
  • ADA Information Line in Volunteer Services for public and institutional use
  • ADA information and services in Rush publications and on the Web site
  • Patient services representative to assist with implementation of programs
  • Consultation to Metro Chicago Health Care Services TTY Directory
  • Director for Specialized Student Services in Rush Medical College
  • Human Resources program to identify more job applicants with disabilities
  • University admissions effort to identify more student applicants with disabilities
  • New learning disabilities initiatives related to students and employees
  • College of Nursing symposium on Students With Disabilities: Nursing Education and Practices, for officials from United States nursing colleges, nursing organizations, regulatory agencies and disability rights groups
  • Partner of National Organization of Nurses With Disabilities
  • Consultant to Illinois Secretary of State's Office on brochure Parking Program for Persons With Disabilities: A Guide for Medical Professionals, on the proper issuance of disability parking placards. Report published on pre- and post-distribution results
  • Participation in City of Chicago's Annual Mentoring Day for students with disabilities
  • Update of Rush Emergency Preparedness Plan for people with disabilities

For more information, contact the Office for Equal Opportunity at Rush by calling (312) 942-7093.

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