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Giving Back Blog

  • Writer's pictureAscension Illinois Foundation

Physicians making a powerful impact


Ascension Illinois Foundation Physicians Council Executive Committee

Members of the Physicians Council Executive Committee reviewed grant requests on Thursday, September 28. The full Physicians Council will meet in October to make final grant awards for fiscal year 2024.


Through caring for patients on healthcare’s front line, physicians have unique, first-hand knowledge of their community’s unmet health needs. To address those needs, 10 physician leaders joined together in 2013 to form the Foundation’s Physicians Council. That group has since grown to comprise 120 physicians. Together, they have donated approximately $1.46 million to the Physicians Council Fund and have awarded over $771,000 in physician-funded and -directed grants to help patients and community members where they need it most.


Under the leadership of Co-Chairs Rema Johnson, DO, Medical Staff Vice President at Ascension Saint Alexius and Mohammed Khan, MD, Director of Electrophysiology Lab at Ascension Alexian Brothers, the Physicians Council currently is in its ninth grant cycle. Thirteen grant requests — including from seven new programs and six returning programs — were made. The new round of grant awards will be announced by the end of October 2023.


“We are excited to receive requests for funding from a number of innovative and impactful initiatives,” said Dr. Khan. “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.”

A fund driven by doctors

Patients today face numerous challenges, from difficulty accessing healthcare to lack of health insurance coverage. Members of the Physicians Council make individual charitable contributions to a fund dedicated to addressing those unmet needs. They come together every year to decide how their collective donations will be used, considering grant requests for up to $25,000 for programs and services at legacy Alexian Brothers ministries that may include:

  • screenings, diagnostic, treatment and follow-up care for vulnerable populations;

  • innovative initiatives that improve quality, clinical outcomes and the care experience;

  • technology and equipment to support the above in certain circumstances and per Ascension guidelines; and

  • one-time patient financial assistance for specific healthcare services or medical equipment that will significantly impact outcomes and for which the patient has no alternate means of payment.


“It’s a fund driven by doctors, often for uninsured services and access to care for vulnerable patients,” said Gregory Teas, MD, Physicians Council member and Chief of Psychiatry at Ascension Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital. “The physicians discuss and determine how to distribute these contributions after reviewing grant requests. We must manage current resources and recruit new participants to maintain the integrity of our mission.”


Addressing unmet health needs

In the past, Physicians Council grant awards have helped fund programs that serve individuals recovering from homelessness and addiction, adolescents impacted by autism spectrum disorders, people living with mental illness, and patients in need of pediatric, oncology, cardiology, hospice and other types of clinical care.


“It is a privilege to be able to work on the clinical, administrative and philanthropic sides of healthcare for Ascension,” said Reinhold Llerena, MD, Physicians Council member and Ambulatory Chief Medical Officer and Chief Population Health Officer at Ascension Medical Group Illinois. “It’s beyond simple gratification to be able to see an unmet need in the community and to be able to fill it as the Physicians Council does.”


This year’s grant requests total more than $193,000 and include programs that would benefit behavioral health, cardiology, pediatric and hospice patients.




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