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Giving Back Blog

  • Writer's pictureAscension Illinois Foundation

Physicians award more than $70,000

Ascension Illinois Foundation Physicians Council Executive Committee

Members of the Physicians Council awarded 10 grants at the annual meeting on Thursday, October 12.

At its annual meeting on Thursday, October 12, the Foundation’s Physicians Council awarded 10 grants totaling more than $70,000 to address unmet health needs in communities served by Alexian Brothers ministries of Ascension Illinois.

“These physicians’ personal commitment to our Mission is awe-inspiring, with Council members making individual charitable contributions to address unmet community health needs,” said Ascension Illinois Ministry Market Executive Polly Davenport, D.Sc., RN, FACHE.

A powerful reason for physicians to help

As part of the Physicians Council, more than 120 physicians on the medical staff at Ascension Alexian Brothers, Ascension Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital and Ascension Saint Alexius contribute to a fund that is used to help some of the most vulnerable people served by Ascension Illinois. Since its inception, the Council has awarded more than $841,070 in grants.

“Many of these programs could not continue their great work without the continued support of our Council,” said Co-Chair Rema Johnson, DO, Medical Staff Vice President at Ascension Saint Alexius.

“This is a powerful reminder of how many people in our communities need help, and it is a powerful reason for us as physicians to get involved,” said Co-Chair Mohammed Khan, MD, Director of Electrophysiology Lab at Ascension Alexian Brothers.

Doctors leading a discussion.

Dr. Rema Johnson (left) and Dr. Mohammed Khan lead the discussion.

Grant awards help most vulnerable

The latest round of grant awards for fiscal year 2024 will benefit the following programs:

Integrative Therapies in Hospice

In fiscal year 2023, hospice art, music and massage therapists provided more than 1,700 visits to 215 patients, enhancing care by creating moments of beauty and release at times of physical and emotional pain and loss. Integrative therapies in hospice are shown to reduce reported anxiety, depression and pain, and boost patients’ overall sense of well-being, however this program depends on philanthropy.

Dietary Counseling in the Ascension Illinois Heart Function Clinic

There is a significant need for dietary counseling in heart failure patients, however insurance does not cover these services for this diagnosis. With this funding, a registered dietitian will be available to meet weekly with patients with advanced heart failure regardless of their financial situation. Dietary counseling helps improve diet and overall health and reduces hospital readmissions.

Dietary Counseling for At-Risk Hypertension Patients

Every new patient with chronic, therapy-resistant hypertension will receive dietary counseling as part of their first clinic visit to determine the best way to implement dietary changes, sustain behavioral change and improve blood pressure. Dietary counseling services are only covered by insurance when chronic kidney disease is diagnosed; by that point, it is too late. Best practice is to incorporate these services early in each patient’s care, and it is especially needed for patients with hypertension who cannot afford appropriate and effective treatment.

Live Stream Child Life Programming to Pediatric Closed Circuit TV

The child life team at Ascension Saint Alexius Women and Children’s Hospital will use this funding for equipment to independently host and live stream weekly programs such as bingo, culinary medicine and special events into the rooms of patients who are unable to participate in person due to isolation precautions, not feeling well enough to move around or to having a medical restriction. Research shows that participation in child life activities reduces boredom associated with hospital admissions, decreases anxiety and stress, and expedites the healing process.

Unfunded Transitional Living Program

Two grants will benefit formerly homeless individuals with serious mental illness who are served by the Ascension Illinois Center for Mental Health transitional living program. The first grant will provide two individuals who have no income or insurance with one year’s worth of supportive housing. They will receive a roof over their head along with medical and psychiatric care to help them build healthy life skills and coping skills, obtain medical insurance and a source of income, and transition to independent living. The second grant will provide supplies to help these individuals live independently.

Community Integrated Living Arrangement (CILA) – Housing Enrichment

CILA provides long-term, permanent housing for individuals with a diagnosed serious mental illness. The program treats individuals ages 18 and up of various backgrounds and populations who need a higher level of care. All are on a fixed income. Due to their fixed income and limited program revenue, this grant will help purchase supplies needed for independent daily living, such as pots and pans, couches, chairs and bedding.

Bettendorf Place Bridge Program

More than 300 homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic health conditions receive supportive housing annually through the Ascension Illinois Housing and Health Alliance, including at Bettendorf Place, a permanent supportive housing program on Chicago’s south side. The grant will support the Bettendorf Bridge Program, a micro pantry that provides nutritional support for residents who live in a food desert and have limited access to lean, high-protein meats, fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts and yogurt.

Treating Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Perinatal Intensive Outpatient Program

In response to the community’s need for more intensive services, the perinatal intensive outpatient program began in August 2015. This funding will help ensure that every mother has access to these services regardless of her financial situation by helping to cover expenses for unfunded and underfunded clients.

Access to Care: Diagnostics and Skills Training for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Every year, thousands of families receive screenings, evaluations, resource navigation, therapeutic support and caregiver training from the Ascension Illinois Autism Spectrum and Developmental Disorders Resource Center. In its 13 years of existence, about 52 percent of families served have been on Medicaid, and an additional 2 percent are typically unfunded. This grant will support no-cost developmental screenings, intensive resource navigation, diagnostic evaluations and skills training programs for parents and caregivers of those who are uninsured or underinsured.

Doctor presenting at the meeting

Dr. Ashish Haryani, a cardiologist at Ascension Alexian Brothers, requests grant funds to support dietary counseling for patients with advanced heart failure.

A direct impact

Being part of the Physicians Council is a deeply personal commitment, with a deeply personal impact. One mother described how she had seen her son regress before her eyes: He would bang his head, wave his hands, make noises and hide. She said she is “forever grateful” to the staff member who referred her to the autism resource center, where her son was able to get in right away for an evaluation, get a diagnosis and get treatment.

“The testing is expensive and families often have to wait months to a year before they can get it,” said Shubhrajan Wadyal, MD, Medical Director, Outpatient Group Practice, Ascension Illinois Behavioral Health and Physicians Council member. “This program has a direct impact on many families each year, especially lower-income families.”

Taken together, with over $841,000 distributed by physicians in 10 years, the collective impact of the Physicians Council on the health of the community is profound.



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Emily Dagostino

Director, Communications

Ascension Illinois Foundation


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