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Going Forward By Giving Back

Thursday, July 18, 2013

By: Robert A. Winn, MD

Defining and delivering better healthcare to the underserved has always been my passion. Chicago is the right place to be and this is the right moment to do that. With the changes in the Affordable Care Act, more people will have a choice in how they get their care. At UI Health, we have a significant opportunity to change the face of healthcare in Chicago, with a focus on better treatments, better opportunities and better access for care.

we are here to serve our communityAs a pulmonary critical care specialist, I want to make a difference for our lung cancer patients. Working within the community-based practice sites that make up the Mile Square Health Center network, we have the best chance of reaching those who are underserved, even more so than other area hospitals.

That's important to me. I was a Head Start kid born to a teenage mother, and from my undergraduate training at Notre Dame through my fellowship and subsequent work as an associate professor in pulmonary critical care at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, it's been important to me to give back to the community.

Pulmonary critical care physicians are used to rolling up their sleeves. I came to UI Health with a mission-to build a robust lung cancer program, especially for those who are underserved.

Through the results of the National Lung Cancer Screening Trial, we know that screenings for certain types of populations can reduce mortality in lung cancer patients. Under Joe G.N."Skip" Garcia's leadership as vice president for health affairs,we are launching a program offering 1,000 free lung screenings to reach those who need them most. We want to be the first in the country to research whether these screenings will make an impact, particularly among the African-American and Latino populations we serve. If we see a 20 percent reduction of lung cancer in the general population, I estimate we can have an even bigger impact in underserved areas.

From working with patients in the ICU to focusing on the treatment of lung cancer, choosing pulmonary critical care as my specialty gives me an adrenaline rush. Now, I'm bringing my enthusiasm for pulmonary critical care to UI Health and expanding our team to ensure that we have just the right resources to serve our patients.

In my role as associate vice president for community-based practice, my number one goal is to help each of our Mile Square Health Centers reach out to the community more effectively. As a first step, I've visited every Mile Square site personally to exchange information and build effective teams.

Two million people reside within the communities served by our Mile Square Health Centers. We're working to more fully connect the full scope of clinical resources available within UI Health to the Mile Square Health Centers to improve the delivery of care and the health outcomes for those we serve. While we aggressively care for people right in their own communities, we want them to know we really care. We want our patients to know that when they need a hospital, the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System is their community hospital- their provider of choice.