issue Spring 2022

Leadership Message

By Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM
Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM, President and CEO

In times of great change and uncertainty, Rosalind Franklin University stays the course, driven by its mission of education, discovery and service to humanity. We are committed to preparing future biomedical and health professionals who can research and bring care and healing in dynamic and evolving environments. But we also want to prepare students who can create change, disruptors who will challenge systemic inequities and break down every barrier to health and well-being.

The critical importance of that work has been underscored by the last two-plus years of a pandemic that revealed brilliant breakthroughs in the treatment and prevention of a deadly virus, but also the persistence of widespread health disparities.

This issue of Helix highlights how we’re moving forward through strategic actions and partnerships that build trust and invest in the health and wellness of underserved populations. It also features stories of students, faculty, alumni and philanthropic partners who are working across sectors and in collaboration with their communities to develop innovations that improve health and healthcare delivery.

Our College of Nursing, which will matriculate its first class this fall, will help build equity in education and health. We’re developing it in partnership with local and regional healthcare systems that need nurses in many areas of service — especially in critical care and behavioral health. Clinical partners include Northwestern Medicine, Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and NorthShore University HealthSystem. We are also working with academic partners that include neighboring Lake Forest College and the College of Lake County, in addition to business, government and community organizations.

The new college will feature a Nursing Education to Workforce Pathway for underserved youth in northern Lake County interested in the nursing profession. By expanding access to higher education, we can build a more diverse pipeline of advanced-practice nurses who can help improve patient outcomes, promote health and create new, more equitable models of care. We are also working to improve health equity in our region by expanding health and education services through our Community Care Connection mobile “Care Coach.” The expansion is made possible through a generous contribution from the NorthShore Foundation. Mobile health clinics are an excellent way to combat barriers to access and provide cost-effective preventive care. According to the Mobile Health Map, each mobile clinic on the road results in 600 fewer emergency department visits per year. This Helix also reflects our investment in the basic and applied science underway in our Innovation and Research Park and among member startups and early-stage companies within our Helix 51 incubator. Our efforts to patent the work of our brilliant scientists and to support young companies determined to create new technologies that improve access to care offer more evidence of our mission in action and our very hopeful path forward to a healthier future for all.

I am grateful for the tireless efforts of so many in our extended community of faculty, students, staff, alumni and supporters who have helped us accomplish such important work in the face of so many challenges. Your commitment inspires us each and every day.