Access Week

Access Week celebrates hardworking health care access professionals for their commitment to supporting patients and providers

Awards, Rankings and Recognitions

Access Week is a celebration started by the National Association of Healthcare Access Management, the only national professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence within the field of health care access. This year, Access Week is taking place April 4-10.

The Access Center is where you call when you want to make an appointment or need a referral to a specialist. Health care access professionals are often the first people you’ll talk to when you have a health concern or need care. The Rush Access Center team is committed to helping our patients get the care they need, when and where they need it. 

Rush University Medical Center is proud to celebrate our hardworking health care access professionals for their commitment to supporting patients and providers. Learn more about some of the Rush Access Center managers below.

Jacquelyn Acevedo

Jacquelyn Acevedo

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush for four and a half years. 
  • My role on the Access team: I am a manager of specialty scheduling. My team is responsible for managing calls for various Rush University Medical Group pediatric/adult specialty departments. 
  • Why I like my job: I love the fact that I get the ability to work closely with the various specialty practices to create and streamline workflows that will meet the providers' needs, but also provide patients with a great customer service experience.  
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: We work very closely with the specialty practices and the Epic team to build electronic workflows that help us schedule patients with the correct provider/specialty. [Jackie is pictured at right with Shaquita Davis, another member of the Access Center team]

Jeanette Cunningham

Jeanette Cunningham

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush for more than 38 years. 
  • My role on the Access team: I am the manager of the primary care clinics.
  • Why I like my job: I like the people who I work with — I love coming here and being part of Rush. I also really enjoy talking to patients, especially right now. Because right now is such a hard time, patients are really grateful to us when we're able to help get them in for appointments. And when you feel that you're doing a service for people, it makes you feel really great. 
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: This year has been a really challenging one, but I want people to know that we are here for them. And I am happy to say that after 38 years, I have truly enjoyed the time I have worked at Rush. 

Karyn Dionne-Quiros

Karyn Dionne-Quiros

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush since February 2020.
  • My role on the Access team: I am the RN manager of clinical operations. I manage telephone RN triage. Currently, I have a team of four nurses that provide services to primary care, gastroenterology, urology, general surgery and COVID-19 test results. The RN triage team is a fairly new part of the Access Center. When I first started, it was put on hold while we devoted attention to the COVID hotline/nurse triage. I expect my team will continue to grow in the next few months. 
  • Why I like my job: One thing I like about my job is the fact that I am able to help someone every day. With the last year being one of the hardest on a lot of people mentally, emotionally and physically, it is great that each day I was able to say that I made a difference, no matter how big or small. 
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: We are often the first people patients talk to when they call with any type of symptoms or medical questions, and they expect to receive information, advice and instructions on what to do next. Telephone nurse triage is often perceived as an easy job. But the role is more complex than you may think. Nurses who work on phone triage need to have enough experience to have strong critical thinking skills, assessment skills and nursing judgment. Computer skills are also important — you don’t want someone who spends more time typing than giving advice. 

Clayton Dunlap

Clayton Dunlap

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush for six and a half years. 
  • My role on the Access team: I am the manager of diagnostic services for the Access Center. 
  • Why I like my job: I love the people I work with and the patients we serve. The wonderful compassion and good humor I encounter from my team, colleagues, leadership and patients have made me truly appreciate the work that we do together each day.
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: Diagnostic services is a unique area of health care because it is so eclectic. It plays a central role in patient care, as we work directly with primary care clinics, as well as every specialty providing imaging to best inform treatment. We truly live at the intersection of it all and have the extraordinary opportunity to positively impact a greatly diverse population of patients.

Evelyn Hernandez

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush for a bit more than three years. 
  • My role on the Access team: I manage the team responsible for developing scheduling templates to make it as easy as possible for patients to access Rush providers and services. We're a team of seven. What we do is constantly evolving. We regularly analyze data and create reports, monitoring capacity supply and demand. We look at trends and, when we spot problems, we propose solutions to clinical departments. We work hand in hand with colleagues in the Information Services Division.
  • Why I like my job: There's never a dull day. Each day brings something new to learn, not just about doing my job better but also learning how clinical specialties work, the different illnesses they treat and how different specialties interact with each other.
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: People may not know how closely we collaborate with departments to help them set up workflows. We're involved in many improvement initiatives with the end goal being satisfied patients and providers. 

Mary HodgersMary Hodgers

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I've been with Rush for six years. I began as manager of the Physician Referral Services call center under the Department of Marketing. It's been just under two years since I was selected to be director of the Access Center. It was at this time we all joined the Access Center and became one happy family!
  • My role on the Access team: I am the director of the Access Center. I oversee Physician Referral Services, as well as access for primary care, both of our specialty teams, radiology, behavioral sciences and RN triage.  
  • Why I like my job: I have the pleasure of working with an astonishing team. We work together to make sure the patients and our clinics are always our highest priority. After everything we've been through this past year, I wouldn't have been able to make it through if it weren't for this group of individuals. 
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: When things are really busy, everyone jumps on calls — and I mean everyone! 

Yelina Mejia

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush since August 2019.
  • My role on the Access team: I am one of two Access Center specialty managers. My team primarily supports surgical specialties. 
  • Why I like my job: I really enjoy the professionalism, collaboration and sense of humor that I encounter every day throughout Rush, but especially within the Access Center. The culture that is nurtured in this organization, despite such unprecedented times, is refreshing. 
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: The Access Center is often referred to as the “call center.” While that is one of the hats we wear, our primary focus is centered around helping patients navigate a complex organization. Our department takes a multidisciplinary approach to this goal by using evolving technology and analytics to optimize provider templates, align capacity and demand, create scheduling workflows introduce nurse triage and so much more. Additionally, we are constantly growing and transforming. 

Maria Navarrete

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush since 2012. I started as an intake coordinator and worked with a former staff member to form a small call center in the psychiatry department.
  • My role on the Access team: I am the Access Center manager for psychiatry and behavioral sciences. My team is currently transitioning into the larger Rush Access Center team. 
  • Why I like my job: I absolutely love working with people and helping those in the community get access to care — especially mental health. I used to work in a community mental health center before coming to Rush and saw the need, but also the lack of resources and funding. It was sad and frustrating to see.  
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: Although it may seem tough or overwhelming at times, there are so many instances throughout the day that make our job fulfilling and worthwhile. I get a warm feeling knowing that I am helping someone in dire need get the help they requested.

Lauren Nikiforak

Lauren Nikiforak

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush since February 2020.
  • My role on the Access team: I am a program manager for access improvement. The purpose of my role is to work on various improvement initiatives that help optimize the Access Center team or the teams that we work with. I also serve as the program manager for telehealth.  
  • What I like about my job: Being a part of the Access Center team is rewarding and challenging. Our team has stepped up in so many ways over the past year to help our patients and the community. It’s inspiring to work with such dedicated coworkers.  
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: A lot of people think of access as just scheduling, but it’s much more than that. We are the first people that our patients come in contact with, and it's important to make sure we’re representing Rush positively. 

Philip Quick

Philip Quick, associate vice president for access

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve been at Rush for two years.
  • My role on the Access team: I'm the associate vice president for access and capacity management.
  • What I like about my job: I love that every day is different. I love being part of an amazing team that is 110% committed to making a difference in our patients' lives by striving to provide access to care when, where and how our patients want to receive it.
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: The Access Center comprises nearly 200 employees who support all three of our hospitals. The Access Center is so much more than just scheduling. Through the pandemic, the Access Center has truly been a lifeline for our patients and community. I am humbled to be a part of this team.

Neha Sarkar

Neha Sarkar

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush for two and a half years. I used to work in Quality Improvement and transferred to the Access Center in March 2021. 
  • My role on the Access team: I am the manager of training and quality for the Access Center.
  • What I like about my job: I like that I get to meet new agents as they come on board and help set the tone and Rush culture for them. I also enjoy that my team is responsible for quality assurance — making sure that we provide the best service. Being able to do that for the entire Rush community is really rewarding. 
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: People may not know that the Access Center has its own internal quality and training group, dedicated to providing the best services to patients and providers. The fact that Rush has that is a unique and interesting aspect of our Access Center.

Lisa Shenouda

Lisa Shenouda

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I've been in the Access Center since I started at Rush in May 2015.
  • My role on the Access team: I'm the manager of analytics.
  • Why I like my job: I love being able to tell a story using data and suggesting opportunities for improvement.
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: The Access Center is the front door to the health system and usually the patient's first impression of Rush. We work closely with each of the departments we schedule for to ensure the right patients are seen by the right provider in the right amount of time. 

Arshia Wajid

Arshia Wajid

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve been working at Rush since September 2019.
  • My role on the Access team: I work as a program manager for front-end operations.
  • Why I like my job: I like the fact that I work with a great, compassionate team. Everyone works extremely hard but we also know how to have fun.
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: Front-end operations encompasses the work performed by clinic coordinators in Rush University Medical Group clinics. They are the first point of contact when a patient arrives for their appointment. Ensuring clinic coordinators have resources and training is extremely critical so they are able to provide a positive experience for all our patients.

Desiree Williams

Desiree Williams

  • How long I’ve been at Rush: I’ve worked at Rush since February 2020.
  • My role on the Access team: I am the manager of Physician Referral Services. The physician referral team has five distinct layers. There's an inbound team that receives calls from the main marketing line, (888) 352-7874. After referrals are placed in Epic, the outbound team contacts patients to connect them with specialists. The MyChart team helps patients having problems accessing or using MyChart. We also have a MyChart Tech Check team that prepares patients to connect with telehealth providers. Finally, we have a COVID scheduling team whose responsibilities include pre-op scheduling, vaccine scheduling and screening.
  • Why I like my job: I enjoy making a difference in people's lives each day. This year has proven to be challenging for most people. To be able to offer patients an appointment with a new provider or make it easy to connect with a specialist from a referral is rewarding. The agents in the Access Center are simply amazing! They work so hard each day to extend excellent care to our patients, and it motivates me to ensure they are cared for as well. I enjoy the connection we make with our patients. I also enjoy the connection with my team.
  • What I think people should know about the Access Center: This job is more than just answering the telephone. It is about people, both those calling in as well as those receiving the calls. It is about discerning and meeting the needs of each caller and connecting them to the proper provider. Each caller is unique and the agents must be able to pivot and adjust to ensure we continue to extend excellent service. There is no better feeling than to hear a patient's thank you for a job well done.

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