Ascension Illinois Foundation
Physicians Giving, Granting and Healing
Integrative therapies in hospice, like the music therapy shown here, will receive funding from the Physicians Council this year.
Eight years ago, a small group of physicians at the former Alexian Brothers Health System created a council dedicated to addressing unmet health needs they identified in the communities they serve. Since then, the Foundation’s Physicians Council has grown from 10 founding members to 115 lifetime members who have contributed more than $1 million and awarded $706,000 — including $100,000 this year — to ministries, programs and priorities benefiting some of the most vulnerable people served by former Alexian Brothers ministries.
“As a founding member, I’m proud of the work achieved since the idea developed back in 2013,” said Reinhold Llerena, MD, Chief Medical Officer for the AMITA Health Medical Group, and Physicians Council and AMITA Health Foundation Board Member. “You always come back to the question of, ‘How do we exemplify our mission at AMITA Health?’ Physicians Council is a central example.”
A Way to Give Back in Perpetuity
Spearheaded by Bill Noyes, then an Alexian Brothers Foundation Board Member, the Physicians Council was envisioned as a way for physicians to empower themselves and make an even greater difference in the communities they serve: They would endow a fund with their own resources; they would apply for grants for programs they knew could have an impact; and then they would decide how to award grants from their endowed fund every year.
“The Physicians Council was set up to be a vehicle to allow physicians to give back in a different form and in perpetuity,” said Noyes.
An Impact No Physician Can Make Alone
Funding a range of initiatives over the years — from providing free dental work for people with mental illness and without insurance to providing culinary grief therapy to people who have recently lost a loved one — the Physicians Council has made a significant impact since its inception. This year, physicians continue to build on their impact, awarding nine grants totaling $100,000 to meet the needs of vulnerable patients. Physicians Council funds will provide:
Dietary counseling for at-risk and underserved patients with hypertension, chronic illness, heart disease, and heart failure who cannot afford to pay for the counseling on their own.
Massage, art and music therapy for patients and families in hospice to comfort them and help them more ably navigate end-of-life stages.
Occupational therapy to help formerly homeless clients moving from transitional living to independent living achieve long-term independence, sobriety and housing stability.
Housing and supportive services to prevent individuals who are living with serious mental illness but lacking income and insurance from falling through society’s cracks.
A facility dog at AMITA Health St. Alexius Medical Center Hoffman Estates to ease patients’ and families’ anxiety, and that of healthcare workers who serve them.
Increased access to diagnostic evaluations for families with autism spectrum and developmental disorders through the expansion of telehealth options.
Specialized intensive outpatient treatment for new or expecting mothers who are struggling with perinatal mood disorders but who lack insurance or an ability to pay out of pocket.
Employment, vocational support and job coaching to help individuals with serious mental illness gain skills, increase dependability and manage symptoms while working.
“This is an opportunity to directly help those in need in our community,” said Physicians Council Co-Chair Mohammed Khan, MD.
Physicians Council Co-Chair Rema Johnson, DO, said it is gratifying to fund initiatives that they, as physicians, know are critically needed and to see how many ways the council has had a positive impact over the years — “an impact,” she added, “that no single physician can make alone.”