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November 08, 2007

Rush University Medical Center Honored for Equal Opportunity in Employment Efforts

Receives US Department of Labor’s Exemplary Voluntary Efforts Award

(CHICAGO) - The U.S. Department of Labor has chosen Rush University Medical Center to receive its prestigious 2007 Exemplary Voluntary Efforts (EVE) Award. The award recognizes federal contractors for exceptional efforts to increase employment opportunities for minorities, women, individuals with disabilities and veterans.

The award was presented to Rush officials at a November 8 ceremony in the Department of Labor building in Washington DC.

“When a company receives an award, it says they’re not only compliant with federal employment regulations, but that they’re leaders in making sure that there’s equal opportunity, that there’s opportunity for advancement, that they’re an asset in their community, that they care about inclusion in everything they do,” says Sandra Zeigler, Midwest Regional Director of the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. “That’s what the EVE award means.”

Rush was one of only three organizations to receive this year’s EVE award—along with Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and the Public Service Enterprise Group, a Newark, New Jersey utility company—out of 17 employers nationwide that the Department of Labor invited to submit application proposals. Rush is the first Chicago-area organization to receive the award in more than a decade.

“At Rush, we strive to promote a culture of inclusion, both in our employment practices and in our patient care, educational and research initiatives, and community service. The EVE award acknowledges those efforts,” says Beverly Huckman, associate vice president for equal opportunity. “Rush had the first federally approved affirmative action program of any major medical center in Illinois in the mid-70s, and we have carried that commitment to equal opportunity in employment and education forward to the point that it is now being widely recognized nationally.”

Rush’s equal employment opportunity programs include partnerships with area minority, women’s and disability rights organizations in order to recruit members of these groups as employees. These efforts have contributed to an increase in minority representation in the Rush workforce. More than 50 percent of Rush employees are members of an underrepresented ethnic group, and 72 percent of employees are women. The Medical Center helps employees of all levels and backgrounds advance in their careers by providing tuition reimbursement benefits and in-house education and training programs.

Rush also takes steps to accommodate the special needs of its employees. Rush’s pro-parent work policies allow many part-time employees to receive full-time benefits. Its Americans with Disabilities Task Force develops and implements policies and programs for persons with disabilities and educates other people about the advantages of these programs for all individuals. Rush also recently implemented a policy of providing extra paid leave time for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces who are returning to work at Rush after serving active duty.

In addition to these employment initiatives, the commitment to diversity that Rush demonstrates in its patient care and its community service programs also contributed to the Medical Center’s earning the EVE award. For the third year in a row, Rush received a perfect score of 100 in the “equity of care” category of the annual quality and accountability study by the University HealthSystem Consortium—a national alliance of academic medical centers—indicating that Rush’s safety and quality of care does not vary, regardless of the patient’s gender, race or socioeconomic status.

The Rush Community Service Initiatives Program provides free care to primarily African American and Hispanic community residents at homeless shelters and free clinics, and the student volunteer program RU Caring provides free care at annual health fairs and tutors students in a local school. Rush’s You Care program awards grants to non-profit human services organizations where employees volunteer. Rush’s Science and Math Excellence [SAME] program provides students from predominantly African American and Hispanic neighborhood schools in the communities surrounding the Medical Center with the same opportunities to learn math and science in state-of-the-art science facilities that are available to their peers in more affluent areas.

“The award is a reflection of both what we do for our employees internally to reach out and handle issues of diversity, and also what the institution and our employees do in reaching out to the broader community in these related areas,” observes Jane Grady, PhD, assistant vice president, human resources administration.

Rush President and CEO Dr. Larry J. Goodman notes that the Medical Center has a historic commitment to diversity that is reflected in its decision to remain in the ethnically diverse west side of Chicago. “The EVE award demonstrates that Rush has cultivated a broadly diverse employee base,” Goodman says, “which in turn translates into culturally sensitive and respectful patient care.”

Rush recommitted itself to the West Side in 2004 when it announced plans for the most comprehensive construction and facilities renovation program in its history. Known as the Rush Transformation, this nine-year project will thoroughly redefine campus buildings and technology, as well as many of the processes used to deliver patient care safely and efficiently. Rush is using this opportunity to completely redesign all patient care processes to put the patient and family at the center of everything the Medical Center does. In July, Rush broke ground for a new orthopedics ambulatory care building, the first major building of the Transformation, which also will include a new inpatient facility, new parking garage, and renovation and demolition of the oldest buildings on campus.

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