Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement

Ensuring that our West Side neighbors achieve health equity requires establishing strong community bonds and identifying opportunities to partner.

Ensuring that our West Side neighbors achieve health equity requires establishing strong community bonds and identifying opportunities to partner.

Our Mission

The mission of the Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement, is to enable and support Rush University Medical Center in fulfilling its commitment to improve the quality of life within Rush’s diverse neighboring communities through initiatives and partnerships.

These are some of the ways we achieve this mission:

  • Assessing the health needs of our community and developing strategies to address these needs
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of Rush programs in meeting the needs of our community
  • Reporting and communicating Rush's community engagement efforts to our internal and external communities
  • Developing and strengthening effective community partnerships
  • Coordinating community-based experiences for Rush University students to enhance their ability to care for diverse populations
  • Serving students and families by providing quality, accessible health care within Rush's School-Based Health Centers and the Adolescent Family Center

Community Health Equity and Engagement FY21 Impact Report

Rukiya Curvey JohnsonThe Office of Community Health Equity and Engagement (CHEE) at Rush University Medical Center helps Rush fulfill its commitment to improving the quality of life for people in its diverse neighboring communities. Our team creates a wide range of initiatives and builds partnerships for assessing and addressing our communities’ health needs.

For decades, under-resourced communities, like some of the West Side neighborhoods that lie between Rush University Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital, have coped with systemic racism, poverty and lack of access to quality education and family-supporting jobs. Inequities like these give rise to illnesses that shorten lives, including diabetes, asthma, heart disease and depression — and as we have recently seen in the starkest of terms, underlying conditions that are caused and exacerbated by health disparities make people more vulnerable to illnesses like COVID-19.

We strive to help everyone attain equal access to the building blocks of good health: safe housing, quality education, family-supporting jobs, reliable transportation, healthy food and other essentials. Equal access gives rise to health equity, where everyone has a fair opportunity to attain their full health potential and no one is prevented from achieving it. In the pages that follow, you’ll see snapshots of some of CHEE’s programs and their impact on community health and economic vitality in fiscal year 2021.

Rukiya Curvey Johnson
Vice President, Community Health Equity

View the Report

Meet the Team

Rukiya Curvey Johnson, MBA
Vice President
Community Health Equity

Julia Bassett
System Manager of Health and Community Benefits

Natalia Gallegos
Director of Engagement and Impact
Rush Education and Career Hub (REACH)

Heather Hampton, EdD
Director, K12 Education and Pathways

Sally Lemke
Director, Community Health Clinics

Thomas Molina
Director, Financial Operations

Anita C. Robinson
Administrative Manager

Nathalie Rosado Ortiz
System Manager, Anchor Mission & Community Engagement

Traci Simmons, DrPH(c), MPH, CPH, CHES
Director, Community Health and Engagement

COVID-19 and Health Equity at Rush

In 2020, the pandemic starkly illustrated gaps in health equity as the virus disproportionately affected Black and Latinx communities. At Rush, we took this moment and transformed it into a movement where we double down on our commitments to health equity.

View the Report
A faith leader in Chicage receives a COVID-19 vaccination at Rush