The spread of COVID-19 across the city of Chicago enabled Rush University Medical Center to demonstrate its unique position as one of the leading hospitals in the nation for innovation and for safely treating the most challenging coronavirus cases, while also continuing to serve the most complex of non-COVID patients. Now, Rush is beginning to reopen select service lines, strategically balancing patient needs with science and safety.
In the early three months since COVID-19 first arrived in Chicago, Rush University Medical Center has been postponing elective procedures as the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois have remained under a stay at home order. That moratorium has been lifted and Rush is sounding the call for care: Your health has never been more important. Rush is here for you.
“Nearly one-third of Americans have put off health care during COVID-19, including some suffering from truly life-threatening issues, like heart attack and stroke,” said Dr. Ranga Krishnan, CEO of Rush University System for Health. “At one point, the American Hospital Association had observed a 25% decrease in 911 heart attack calls and a 35% decrease in stroke 911 calls. We understand the fears and uncertainties — especially about coming into a hospital or clinic for care when people have been told to stay home as much as possible. But we also know that getting treatment and taking care of your health can’t wait.”
“When COVID arrived, we made three years-worth of changes in three weeks,” said Dr. Omar Lateef, CEO of Rush University Medical Center. “Now, we are applying this same approach as we begin reintroducing elective surgeries: deliberately and with safety and science informing every decision.
“Many enhancements and operational changes have been made across our system of hospitals and clinics in response to COVID-19,” said Lateef. “Those improvements have further bolstered Rush’s ability to provide the highest-quality care in the safest environment for any of your health care concerns.”
As the No. 1 hospital in the country for safety and quality, Rush has a demonstrated track record of success for quality outcomes and patient safety, that informed its COVID-19 preparedness, as well as the reintroduction of elective procedures.
“Throughout this crisis, Rush has treated COVID patients while continuing to provide the excellent care that our patients have come to expect from us,” said Dr. Paul Casey, acting chief medical officer. “Approximately 75% of patients admitted to Rush during the height of coronavirus in Chicago needed non-COVID care such as heart and cancer care, and dozens of measures were put in place to keep those populations isolated safely. We are and will continue to do so. There is no need to put off care or treatment you need — we are here for you.”
Rush has taken the following precautions to protect our patients and staff including:
- Universal masking of all staff, patients and visitors: Everyone will be given a hospital-grade mask as soon as they enter any Rush facility and all staff members will be wearing masks as well. This gives an added level of protection for every single person coming into the Medical Center and clinics.
- Temperature scanning at entrances: All patients and staff coming to any Rush facilities will have their temperature taken by a contactless, infrared temperature scanner at all entrances.
- Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting: Environmental Services staff is adopting new strategies for routine cleaning and using hospital-grade disinfectant with additional focus on cleaning high touch areas, public areas, patient rooms, waiting rooms and more.
- Social distancing in waiting rooms and common areas: Waiting areas throughout the Medical Center have been reconfigured to ensure that seating is at least six feet apart.
- Minimal waiting in clinics: Now that we have shifted many appointments to virtual care, Rush is carefully managing the patient flow in our clinics to minimize wait times and significantly reduce the overall length of stay in the clinical setting.
- Cellphone parking lot: Rush is offering a safe nearby, free parking area for loved ones to comfortably stay in their cars, while waiting for patients who are having appointments, tests or procedures.
- Enhanced screening protocols for all patients: There is a 24/7 call center that includes nurses on staff who screen patients over the phone at the time of scheduling and the night before an appointment/procedure. Rush staff ask several questions about possible COVID-19 symptoms and will guide patients on next steps if symptoms exist.
- Video visits: We have moved as much care possible to virtual care – for existing patients and new patients. For patients who are coming in for treatments, surgery or other care, we’ve been able to do a portion of their care as a video visit before they come to campus. This limits the amount of people they come into in-person contact with and lessens time on campus overall.
- Enhanced COVID-19 testing: If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or if you have a temperature of 100°F, we are offering testing for patients in our designated COVID-19 clinic.
- Isolation of COVID-19 patients: Rush is safely isolating COVID-19 patients from others – in both inpatient and outpatient areas.
- Robust testing of Rush staff: To ensure the health of our staff, Rush is doing daily temperature checks, symptom monitoring, broad testing of any staff for COVID-19 and antibodies.
“The data is clear: COVID-19 has changed the landscape of the delivery of health care,” said Tatyana Popkova, senior vice president for strategy. “Patients and providers agree that innovations, such as telemedicine and video visits, provide comfort and confidence for patients fearing coronavirus, without sacrificing their ability to get the care they need. Rush is aggressively embracing new, contact-free approaches.”
“Our Tower and facilities may be best-in-class, but it is our people who truly ensure patient safety,” said Angelique Richard, senior vice president for hospital operations and chief nursing officer. “Patient safety is the top priority of the entire Rush team and we are taking every possible measure to keep you safe now and into the future.”
“Our patient flow and operational processes have changed to ensure, not just safety, but also access and convenience for all of our patients and our referring physicians,” said Richa Gupta, senior vice president clinical operations.
“Over the course of the last nine weeks, we have demonstrated to the world that Rush University Medical Center was built on a foundation of safety and quality. We are built for times like these,” said Lateef. “We are proud to have led through storm. Now, we will lead through the recovery and into the new normal for safe, high quality delivery of care.”