Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has named Rush University Medical Center among the first recipients of the Mayor’s Medal of Honor. Announced on April 13, this new award recognizes individuals and organizations for extraordinary contributions to Chicago’s residents throughout 2020 and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Medical Center is the only hospital in Chicago to receive the award.
The Medical Center has been widely recognized for being a leader in COVID-19 response from the start of the pandemic. This response to date has included performing 148,168 tests for COVID-19, which have diagnosed more than 25,129 cases of the disease; providing a comprehensive telehealth program for many of these patients (and patients with other conditions); providing inpatient care for 3,854 people with severe COVID-19, including accepting transfers of some of Chicago’s most acutely ill patients; leading efforts to protect the homeless; and helping lead the city’s efforts to bring the COVID-19 vaccine to Chicago neighborhoods disproportionally affected by the pandemic.
“The city of Chicago has come so far in the past year, with so many sacrificing so much. The entire Rush University Medical Center staff has been instrumental in this fight, and put aside many of their own fears in service to their community,” said Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO and president, Rush University Medical Center.
“We are finally seeing the benefits of an increase in vaccinations, particularly in the communities hit the hardest by this pandemic. These life-saving injections have also injected hope and energy into our team that continues to face down this challenge day in and day out.”
The honor comes days after the Medical Center celebrated its 100,00th vaccination for COVID-19. This milestone in the fight against the disease brought both excitement and the reminder that there is still more work to be done to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Now is not the time to let our guard down. I am in awe of our team at Rush and am sincerely excited to share this recognition with each and every one of them,” Lateef said. “While we are deeply appreciative and humbled by this incredible honor, the best way to pay tribute to the health care heroes working across the entire city is to stay vigilant with masking, social distancing, hand washing and caring for one another.”
The Mayor’s Medal of Honor will be an annual award presented by the mayor to honorees who have demonstrated a passionate commitment to public service, to uplifting residents of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods, and to bettering the lives all who reside in the city. Lateef and David Ansell, MD, MPH, the Medical Center’s senior vice president for community health equity, will represent Rush during the award ceremony, which will be live streamed on Tuesday, April 20.
“As we begin to see the light at the end of the long, dark COVID-19 tunnel we've been in, it is vitally important for us to take the time to recognize and honor those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to support our city," said Mayor Lightfoot. "This award will highlight and celebrate the individuals and organizations who have worked tirelessly to provide our residents with the resources they need to rise above and thrive long after this pandemic. I am beyond grateful for their contributions and thank them for helping to make Chicago a better place."
A full list of the Mayor’s Medal of Honor recipients is available on the city of Chicago website.