September 2014

Women’s Health Awareness Council discusses the ACA and breast cancer


Researchers and scholars acknowledge that there have been recent improvements in breast cancer survival rates in the United States. However, disparities in breast cancer mortality and outcomes based on race/ethnicity and socioeconomic factors remain, exposing the deep need for targeted interventions to help eliminate barriers to quality health care.

The disparities are deepest between African American and White women—studies demonstrate that although White women have a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer than African American women, African American women have a higher breast cancer mortality rate than White women. Additionally, research shows that poverty, less education and not having health insurance are all factors that are associated with lowered breast cancer survival rates.

Importantly, recent studies have also suggested that the disparities in breast cancer outcomes between African American and White women are greater in Chicago than they are in the country as a whole. This suggests that highly-targeted, localized interventions are needed to address the unique needs of women in Chicago.

The Affordable Care Act has made care available for many women in our community. However, while it may have opened the door for more women to access preventive services, there exists an ongoing need to improve educational resources and access to quality preventive services and screenings, such as mammography.

Experts state that it will take several years to gather and analyze data surrounding the impact of the Affordable Care Act on breast health disparities; now is the time for action to help ensure that women in our communities are able to access the preventive resources and care they need to improve their breast and overall health.

On Sept. 25, 2014, the Women’s Health Awareness Council met to discuss these important issues. Included below are presentation slides from panelists and a toolkit containing data, perspectives and key research studies.




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Women’s Health Awareness Council discusses cultural barriers to health care


Health care disparities related to race and culture have increasingly been recognized by the medical and academic communities as a critical issue of concern. Over the course of the past decade, there has been a shift in focus from documenting health care disparities to uncovering and exploring potential solutions for these disparities, and developing means for implementation.

On Sept. 5, 2014, the Women’s Health Awareness Council met to discuss the power of language, culture and race in determining the quality of healthcare women receive. Included below are presentation slides from keynote speaker Dr. Monica Vela and a toolkit containing data, perspectives and key research studies.



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Swedish Emergency Associates makes generous gift to Women’s Health Initiative


Swedish Emergency Associates physicians, left to right: Dr. James Vasilakis, Dr. Leo Dilan, Dr. Bruce McNulty, Dr. Trina Norman, Dr. Andrew Costello, Dr. Lauren Pierce, Dr. Kirk Kittikamron and Dr. Allison Lazar Not pictured: Dr. Ayesha Ali, Dr. Sylveena Ali, Dr. Sheba Ampalloor, Dr. Neha Dave, Dr. John Graneto, Dr. Mary Habib, Dr. Danish Haque, Dr. Krister Johansson, Dr. Humera Khan, Dr. Joanna Kmiecik, Dr. Joseph Lo, Dr. Erik Martin, Dr. Anna Morgan, Dr. James Morosco, Dr. Anne Newbold, Dr. Christine Patte, Dr. Steven Press, Dr. Keri Robertson, Dr. Jennifer Ron, Dr. Charles Strulovitch, Dr. Melinda Tobin, Dr. Kelly Wright, Dr. Joseph Youkhana and Dr. Jonathan Younan

Physicians in Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Emergency Department know the importance of the Women’s Health Initiative. According to Dr. Bruce McNulty, president of Swedish Emergency Associates, ED physicians have a front row seat to the critical role that women play in health care. Many patients that seek care in the ED are accompanied by a woman – whether the patient’s mother, sister, wife, or daughter, he said. He and Dr. Christine Patte, Emergency Medicine physician, know how critical it is for these women to have access to high quality health care services and education.

That’s why Swedish Emergency Associates have pledged a generous donation to the Women’s Health Initiative to improve access to care for every woman in our community. The generous gift from Swedish Emergency Associates brings the Women’s Health Initiative Campaign total to $2.8 million of the $5 million goal.

“I see a lot of patients in the Emergency Department that will benefit from the Women’s Health Initiative – women who don’t have access to routine health care,” Dr. Patte said. “The Women’s Health Initiative is a great opportunity to make an impact through financial support.”

Scheduled to open in October, the Mayora Rosenberg Women’s Health Center is the cornerstone of the Women’s Health Initiative. However, the project extends beyond the creation of a physical space, as noted by Dr. McNulty. The initiative also includes an Access and Education program and Resource Center. It is the programming, including the development of a domestic violence and human trafficking protocol that sets the initiative apart and furthers the mission of the hospital, Dr. McNulty said.

“It is important to not only carve out a special place where women can comfortably access health care services, but also to build programming that addresses the unique needs of women in our community,” Dr. McNulty said. “Through the initiative’s programs, Swedish Covenant Hospital is aligning itself as a knowledge center.”

Dr. McNulty believes that philanthropic funding is essential for the hospital to pursue initiatives such as the Women’s Health Initiative. He and Dr. Patte understand that physicians have an important role to play in supporting the hospital.

Dr. McNulty has experienced the void that is left from the closing of community hospitals. To truly care about an organization, he said, means to give back and ensure it survives and thrives. He does this, not only by providing financial support, but by also volunteering his expertise as a member of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation Board of Directors. In addition, Dr. McNulty has made a personal pledge to the Women’s Health Initiative. Dr. McNulty advocates his philosophy to the Swedish Emergency Associates physicians, including Dr. Patte, who has volunteered her time as a member of the gala committee since 2011.

Dr. Patte is passionate about serving the community where she lives and works. Swedish Covenant Hospital has been a special place for her family – her father was born here. Dr. Patte is proud to serve as a gala chair, along with her husband Eric Schmitt, and help raise awareness of and support for the Women’s Health Initiative. She knows that the initiative will help many of the women in the community access health care.

Swedish Emergency Associates will be recognized as a sponsor at the Swedish Covenant Hospital Gala, On the Bayou to be held on Saturday, October 18th at Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.

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Healing Garden gifts memorialize loved ones


Bergman Tobias fotor

Top: Marilyn Tobias; Bottom: Phyllis Bergman and family

The Healing Garden has given many a place to reflect, seek peace and rest. As volunteers for Swedish Covenant Hospital, Marilyn Tobias and Phyllis Bergman each found the garden to be a particularly special place. It is fitting, then, that the Tobias family and Phyllis Bergman chose to honor their loved ones with memorial gifts to the garden. Marilyn Tobias and the Bergman and Stephenson families are now remembered through named benches in the Healing Garden.

Marilyn Tobias was known as the “bread lady” to many at Swedish Covenant Hospital. During her 10 years of volunteer service, Marilyn passed out bread to those in the waiting areas and was known for her warm hugs. Phil and Marilyn enjoyed spending time in the Healing Garden and often took strolls through the garden. The Tobias’s relationship with Swedish Covenant Hospital started long before that, however – all of their children were born at the hospital. Marilyn passed away in 2013 and a bench in the Healing Garden has been donated in her memory by her loving family.

Also a dedicated volunteer, Phyllis Bergman has committed more than 2,000 hours to volunteering in the medical library. She can be found every Thursday pushing the book cart through the hospital hallways and passing out books and magazines to patients. When she has spare time, Phyllis spends it in the Healing Garden reading, eating lunch, or just resting and listening to the birds. Her gift to the garden was inspired by a desire to ensure its longevity.

“I love spending time in the Healing Garden – and used to call it the peace garden. I wanted to make a donation to make sure that the garden continues for the community to enjoy. The memorial bench gives me a place where I can go to remember my family,” Phyllis said.

Phyllis recently surprised her family by revealing the memorial bench while they were visiting her in Chicago (pictured).

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Bequest to fund new Lung Cancer Screening Program


For more than 20 years, Janet and William Spensley trusted the physicians, nurses and hospital caregivers at Swedish Covenant Hospital with their medical care. To show their gratitude, the Spensley’s left a generous bequest to Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Cancer Center. Through this planned gift, the Spensley’s will allow others to access a new lung cancer screening method at a minimal cost. Their legacy gift will save hundreds of lives.

“We are grateful for the Spensley’s thoughtful expression of gratitude that will affect hundreds of Swedish Covenant Hospital patients,” Dr. Jeffrey Cilley, SCH medical oncologist, said.

According to the American Lung Association, lung cancer has poor survival rates relative to other forms of cancer and is the leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Until recently, a screening tool wasn’t available to detect lung cancer. Instead, lung cancer was often first diagnosed based on a patient’s symptoms, at which point the cancer was already in an advanced stage.

The American Society of Clinical Oncology recently released new guidelines for lung cancer screening and Swedish Covenant Hospital will bring this screening to the community. Through this new screening program, providers will identify individuals who are at high-risk for lung cancer based on age and smoking history and refer them for low-dose CT scans. The screenings will be provided for the cost of one pack of cigarettes or the equivalent of $10. Because this screening is not yet covered by insurance, the Spensley’s have made it possible for hundreds of individuals to access low-cost screening.

“Through this new program, high-risk individuals will have access to screening that can detect lung cancer early, allowing them to pursue the treatment they need. This program will add to the holistic and interdisciplinary approach to integrated cancer care at Swedish Covenant and better serve our community,” Dr. Cilley said.

The lung cancer screening program will work in conjunction with a smoking cessation program that will be subsidized with donor dollars granted through the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation.

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