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Saint Leonard’s is rich with stories of resilience, renewal and reward from residents, staff, volunteers and service providers making a difference at Saint Leonard’s daily. Today, we share how the award winning and nationally recognized community partnership with RUSH University College of Nursing and Saint Leonard’s Ministries came about.
It started with a phone call about tuberculosis tests for residents after they arrive at Saint Leonard’s Ministries. It grew into a walk-in healthcare clinic that operates on campus five days a week.
This is all thanks to the vision of Angela Moss and the partnership between Saint Leonard’s and RUSH University Medical Center.
Moss, a RUSH assistant dean of faculty practice and nurse practitioner, remembers the cold call she received from then-Executive Director Erwin Mayer.
“He told me about how he wants nursing students to do TB testing in the courtyard,” Moss said of the phone call five years ago. “I thought, we can do that and 10,000 things more.”
Moss also remembers the feeling when she first visited the Warren Boulevard campus.
“It was the most welcoming environment ever. I walked into the courtyard, and everybody was like, ‘Hey doc, how are you doing’ like I was their long-lost friend,” Moss said. “To have me walk in and be so welcomed, it was really wonderful. I was instantly part of their family.”
In the early days, Moss was the sole person managing the clinic once a week. Today, she’s the executive leader of the clinic that sees 15-20 patients every weekday, has dedicated staff and will have 22 student-participants this fall.
As one of the 27 community clinics operated by RUSH, the Saint Leonard’s clinic provides urgent care, cancer screening, general physicals, cholesterol checks, lab work and stitch removal. There’s treatment for diabetes, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders and substance-use issues. And it offers group counseling, chronic-disease management and health-education programs.
A key component is meeting with people within 24 hours of their intake at Saint Leonard’s. Many times, people arrive without much-needed medication, or they have received improper prescriptions. Some don’t get their health insurance reactivated. Assistance is needed for the prescription-filling process at pharmacies.
When people leave incarceration, they may be seeking employment and reconnecting with family, friends and community. Health issues can stand in the way of those goals.
“In the hospital, we’re the most important people in the room. At Saint Leonard’s, it’s the opposite. We are the wraparound support,” Moss said. “The most important thing is that individual’s goal, and we’re trying to provide the resources so we can meet that goal.”
To say this work is life-changing is no overstatement. The clinic once prevented a resident from going blind during a bout with acute angle glaucoma. This condition applies pressure to the eye to the point that arteries are compressed, cutting off blood supply. He was possibly minutes or hours away from losing his vision, and Moss ensured that he received the proper eye drops to relieve the tension.
The best part of the work, Moss said, is that she feels like a small contributor to the Saint Leonard’s mission.
“I would leave every day, and the thing that made me feel really good about it is that I felt confident I was helping people be their best selves,” she said. “Saint Leonard’s is a magical place. They do amazing work.”
RUSH University College of Nursing does amazing work as well. We are grateful to have Angela and the RUSH team as Faces of Saint Leonard’s!