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“At Michael Reese Hospital, the administration, medical and nursing staffs, and researchers all provided the environment, tools, knowledge and incentive for everyone to excel. The total chemistry of the place resulted in accomplishments far exceeding that of other public hospitals in its day. Now other hospitals lead the effort to meet the medical challenges of today, but the Foundation has a role to play. We provide further incentive and support to important initiatives and help to open up new and better treatment pathways for patients. Ultimately for the patients who will benefit, the outcomes of such research and treatment programs are more important than where the work gets done.”
Bill became involved in forming the Foundation while at Michael Reese Hospital as a cardiology researcher and has served as executive director since 1999.
“I’ve led the Foundation in its original state as a nonprofit wing of the hospital, and I’ve led it as its own entity after the hospital’s closing. The difference between then and now is one of scale. With the hospital, we received and managed grants like we do today for our remaining community care programs; there were simply more of them. We funded physician research and training projects with our endowment while connected to the hospital; we continue to do the same today through our connection with University of Illinois and Hispanocare. Certainly, with a larger endowment, we would increase our contribution. Yet, what we do right now actively carries on in some part what Michael Reese Hospital did so well – not as a plaque on a wall, but as real initiatives achieving outcomes for people and medicine.”
“I spent my whole career at Michael Reese Hospital. I was there as a medical student, a resident, an attending physician and a high-level administrator, ultimately being responsible for the design of the original hospital health plan. Now that the hospital is gone, the reason for the Foundation to keep going is to sustain the core activities – community care, research and education – for which the hospital is still internationally known, not only to preserve this reputation, but also to perpetuate it with further achievements and active programs serving the same mission.”
“I spent my whole career at the hospital, starting in the Sixties, ultimately serving as Chair of the Department of Medicine in the final decade. I worked in rheumatology; consequently, I treated a number of sickle cell anemia patients. In 2010, I read a paper from the NIH about stem cell transplants on sickle cell patients. I contacted a transplant doctor I knew at University of Illinois and asked him if he was interested in trying it on one of my patients who was gradually dying. He said yes, and my patient is now cured. This story is one example of the kind of work done at Reese all the time. The culture there was to keep pushing for better medical treatments for our patients, so they didn’t merely manage illness; they got better. Now, it’s the work of the Foundation to keep pushing.”
“As the last active unit of what was once Michael Reese Hospital, we carry on the mission at a greatly reduced scale. It’s a challenge to determine the most impactful ways to employ our resources. We look to fill in where bigger institutions leave off. By pushing advancement in areas that are not getting enough attention, we are able to have a larger impact on health care than might be expected from an organization of our size.”
“While in the middle of almost constant changes for twenty years, the Research and Education Foundation continued to sustain its mission and programs remarkably well. Our existence today is thanks to the commitment of the board members who feel strongly about maintaining the legacy of the hospital. Even though we come from different departments and generations in our experience, we all agree that it was a unique institution that has a special place in the history of American medicine. While the special place that was Michael Reese Hospital cannot be revived, at least something of its spirit and good influence on medicine will continue through the work of the Foundation.”
“While originally established to further research efforts on the campus at Michael Reese, the Research and Education has followed the great tradition of Michael Reese Hospital by becoming involved in all three facets of great academic medical centers: Clinical Care, Research and Education. We are proud to be continuing the legacy of the Hospital as a great contributor to health care in this fine city and to the education of care givers around the world.”
“I took a two-year cardiology fellowship at Michael Reese Hospital because of two men, Alfred Pick and Richard Langendorf: I’m a cardiologist because of the department they built. It’s hard to comprehend this great institution closing. It played such an important role in the community, particularly in its later years when it was a safety-net hospital. Even after transitioning to for-profit, it provided care to all-comers. Slowly, the Foundation is developing what we do to maintain and push forward the mission of quality care for all.”
“The hospital gave me the opportunity to do what I currently do even though what I currently do was not anywhere in my mind when I came to the hospital. The combination of expertise and camaraderie in the hallway made it an amazing place to practice. In 1989 residents put together a volunteer HIV clinic combining physicians from various departments to serve patients on the South Side. I don’t know of any other hospital system that would let that happen. Originally, I rotated with other physicians at the clinic one half day a month. Over time, it increased to one day a week and then I realized that for four days a week, I looked forward to the fifth day. The support of the Foundation made it possible to sustain the program despite the changes and ultimate demise of the hospital. It is a vital asset to the community, and we are doing the work that Michael Reese Hospital did – taking care of patients who have trouble getting care elsewhere and doing it in exemplary manner.”
“I got introduced to the field of nursing at the hospital when I worked as a secretary there while attending college. I switched my major from education to nursing and started at Michael Reese as an RN in 1975. I was there for 33 years until it closed. Michael Reese had a world-wide reputation, kind of like the Mayo Clinic does today. To be part of its impact on medicine was exciting for us who were there even at the end, and I believe the Women’s Health program does carry on some of that impact. Because of the Foundation, we’re able to keep it going past the life of the hospital, which is remarkable in its own way.”