Message from Pete Batra, MD

Dear Colleagues,

I sincerely hope that this message finds you and your loved ones safe and healthy. The COVID-19 pandemic may be the greatest challenge we will face in our lives at a personal or professional level. I am incredibly proud and privileged to be part of Rush University Medical Center. Within a matter of weeks, our hospital transformed to set the standard nationally to tackle this unprecedented challenge.

As the coronavirus curve starts to flatten in our region, we will take extraordinary measures to ensure that we can safely meet the health care needs of our patients. We offer rigorous screening protocols and point-of-care COVID-19 testing at our sites to minimize risk to our patients. We have expanded access to our top-notch physicians by telehealth or in person, including evenings and Saturdays at main campus, Rush Oak Park, Rush Oak Brook and Rush South Loop. Our goal is to see you in person within 24 business hours. It is care when, where and how you want it.

It is with great privilege that I started my seventh year of tenure as Chair of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. The past six years have seen tremendous growth of our clinical and academic enterprise. We incorporated audiology into our practice two years ago, and this year we integrated dermatology as a division into our clinical neighborhood. Our faculty complement includes 17 otolaryngologists, 9 audiologists, 9 dermatologists, two oral maxillofacial surgeons and four APPs, making us one of the largest ENT departments in the country. Our providers deliver outstanding clinical care at Rush University Medical Center and four regional sites, including Oak Brook, Oak Park, River North and South Loop, providing a comprehensive array of ENT, dermatology and audiology services through 13 established clinical programs.

We welcome five new faculty members during this academic year. Dr. Eli Michaelides, a nationally recognized neurotologist from Yale, joins us as an Associate Professor and Medical Director of Outpatient Otolaryngology and Audiology. Dr. Dean Toriumi, an internationally recognized facial plastic surgeon, joins the department to further augment our clinical and research capabilities in this important arena. Dr. Peter Papagiannopoulos joins the department as an Assistant Professor and Director of Oak Brook Otolaryngology after completing his advanced rhinology fellowship at University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Michael Lee, an oral maxillofacial surgeon, joins the department as an Instructor after completing his training at Vanderbilt University. This summer we will welcome Dr. Mihir Bhayani as an Associate Professor and Director of the Rush Salivary Gland Program. He will also spearhead the head and neck translational science program in the Rush University Cancer Center.

The residency program continues to thrive under the leadership of our Program Director Dr. Phil LoSavio. He is joined by Dr. Inna Husain, Associate Program Director, Dr. Samer Al-Khudari, Medical Student Clerkship Director, and Sofia Gardanova, Academic Program Manager, as this academic leadership team continues to innovate to create a top tier educational program. The residency has successfully integrated specialized educational tracks, including Clinical Research, Global Health and Patient Safety and Quality Improvement tracks, to help train the next generation of otolaryngologists. The education program includes a robust didactic curriculum map complemented by multiple proctored, lab-based educational sessions and skills based simulation training. We are currently constructing a 12-station skull base/temporal bone dissection laboratory to further augment the training experience. The department continues to hold a very successful Rush Update in Otolaryngology annually, which moved to the Mid-America Club this past fall.

Research remains an integral component of our tripartite mission. The department currently has 65 active prospective and retrospective IRBs. There are 11 ongoing clinical trials in partnership with industry to evaluate innovative therapeutic devices and medications in the areas of rhinology, head and neck cancer, sleep and otology. This past year, we started a department-wide precision medicine cancer initiative in collaboration with Tempus. This summer we are launching a departmental effort to study microbiome alterations in ENT diseases in partnership with Allergy/Immunology. The faculty published 55 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters this past academic year, which attests to their commitment to advancing science in our specialty.

I am incredibly honored to be a part of this tremendous department and organization. The clinical differentiation at Rush is second to none as affirmed by the recent accolades bestowed upon us. Vizient recognized Rush University Medical Center with the top ranking for delivering the highest quality care amongst the leading 93 major academic medical centers across the country. It is the seventh consecutive time that the Medical Center has been ranked in the top five. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has designated Rush University Medical Center a five-star rating for quality and patient experience. This is the highest designation from CMS and deservingly places us in the top 7% of hospitals nationwide.

Whether you are a patient, physician or student, I hope you will find information on our website helpful to your needs.

Thank you for visiting us.

Yours Sincerely,

Pete S. Batra, MD, FACS
Stanton A. Friedberg, MD Chair in Otolaryngology
Professor and Chairman
Medical Director, Rush Sinus, Allergy, and Asthma Center
Co-Director, Rush Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery
Department of Otorhinolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Rush University Medical Center