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January 24, 2012

Rush Opens Health Clinic at Simpson Academy for Young Women

Ribbon-cutting for new CPS-based health clinic set for Jan. 27

(CHICAGO) — The College of Nursing at Rush University is opening its third Chicago school-based health center at the Chicago Public Schools’ Simpson Academy for Young Women, a school for pregnant women and young mothers.

To mark the opening of the new health clinic, a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by city officials, executives from Chicago Public Schools (CPS) and Rush will be held on Friday, Jan. 27, at 10 a.m. at the Simpson Academy, which is located at 1321 S. Paulina in Chicago. 

Attendees include Rush CEO Dr. Larry J. Goodman; CPS CEO Jean-Claude Brizard; Cook County Commissioner Robert Steele; City Colleges of Chicago chancellor Cheryl Hyman; Alderman Walter Burnett of the 27th Ward; Alderman Bob Fioretti of the 2nd Ward and others.

The Simpson Academy is a small school serving grades six to 12 that accepts students from throughout Chicago. Nurse practitioners from Rush University Medical Center and students from Rush’s College of Nursing will provide on-site health and educational services. They will also provide services for infants at a daycare center at the school, which is expected to be up and running in November. The aim is to help mothers and expecting mothers remain focused on schoolwork.

“This special health service provides an additional type of support to keep these girls on a solid academic track,” said Sally Lemke, RN, an instructor at the Rush College of Nursing at Rush and the lead health care provider at the clinic. “So many of the girls are missing school because of prenatal visits or physical complaints related to their pregnancies. The hope is to increase the attendance rates.”

The health services at the clinic will encompass primary care, prenatal care, school and sports physicals and contraceptive services. There will also be a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner to provide one-on-one and group sessions with students. A family nurse practitioner will provide infants with well-child care, urgent care and immunizations, among other services, once the daycare opens.

“We anticipate that the addition of a comprehensive set of health services to the students attending Simpson Academy for Young Women will address barriers to learning and promote school attendance, as well as student behavior and engagement,” said Dr. Richard G. Smith, chief officer for the Office of Special Education and Supports at Chicago Public Schools (CPS). “Together, with strong instructional practices and clinical and related services, we believe that these supports will assist the students in being successful.”

In addition, the clinic will have an educational component. There will be time set aside once a week during the school day when Simpson Academy students can take part in programs such as prenatal classes for pregnant students and parenting support classes for the mothers.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to engage the girls and empower them to be involved in their own health and the health of their children,” Lemke said.

And having a clinic on-site will allow teachers to keep their focus on educating students rather than addressing students’ medical needs.

“Without a nurse on site, if a girl has a complaint or some pain, teachers and administrators have to turn their attention to the ailing student, and they may not know how they should help the student,” Lemke said. “Should they send the student to the hospital or call 911, or what? With the Rush nursing staff on site, we will be able to address their health issues and make the right decisions, and the teachers and educators will be able to stay focused on teaching.”

The Simpson Academy has been a part of CPS for over 30 years. Last year, under new administration, Simpson made the change from a transitional school that served pregnant students until they gave birth to a full-time high school focused on supporting students even after they became mothers. Enrollment was 185 with a maximum of 200, and 2011’s class had a 92 percent graduation rate.

The Rush College of Nursing also operates school-based health centers through CPS at Richard T. Crane Technical Preparatory Common School and at Rezin Orr Community Academy High School. As part of the comprehensive health care services available at these sites, the centers offer family planning and education programs. During fiscal year 2010, nurses and students from Rush provided 1,775 clinic visits at Crane, serving 551 students. At Orr, there were 1,170 visits, serving 619 students.


Rush is a not-for-profit academic medical center comprising Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Health.

Rush’s mission is to provide the best possible care for its patients.  Educating tomorrow’s health care professional, researching new and more advanced treatment options, transforming its facilities and investing in new technologies—all are undertaken with the drive to improve patient care now, and for the future.


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