From Rush University Medical Center "Rush Stories."
The Chicago Bulls aren’t just any organization looking to keep their employees healthy: They’re a multimillion dollar pro sports team with a legacy of championship basketball. So when a player gets injured, they’re looking courtside for the best sports medicine team possible. Which means they’re looking for doctors from Rush University Medical Center.
A tap on his head from the Bulls’ head athletic trainer Fred Tedeschi sends in Kathy Weber, MD, dually trained in sports medicine and internal medicine, for medical concerns such as a concussion or dehydration. A tap on his knee sends in head team physician Brian Cole, MD, or one of the other team physicians. An orthopedic surgeon and internal medicine physician are on hand for all of the Bulls’ home games.
“Player injuries in the game – that’s when my blood pressure goes up,” says John Paxson, executive vice president of basketball operations and former world champion player for the Chicago Bulls.
“It’s important for the players to know we have their best interests at heart and that we’re doing things the right way. The only way you can do that is if you have the best medical team,” he continues. “It shows them we’ve got the best possible plan in place to get them healthy and back on the floor.”
In 2004, the Bulls selected orthopedic surgeons and internal medicine physicians at Rush to provide expert care to their organization. In fact, the orthopedic program at Rush is consistently ranked among the best in the nation according to U.S.News & World Report and is the top-rated program in Illinois. As sports medicine specialists, these physicians treat everything from broken bones to torn anterior cruciate ligaments and rotator cuffs. And because they are also researchers at a leading academic medical center, they are able to offer the Bulls—and weekend warriors alike—advanced treatment options not widely available.
They also take care of the entire Bulls family: the players’ families, employees of the Bulls, the Chicago Luvabulls cheerleaders and even team mascot Benny the Bull. “Benny is a tremendous athlete,” says Cole. “We’ve had a few times where he’s had to be taken care of to get him quickly back out doing what he loves to do.”
Cole credits the success of Rush’s relationship with the Bulls to similar organizational cultures. “When you look at the Rush culture and compare it to the Bulls organization, they’re both really a family environment,” he says. “We can truly be allowed to be doctors and make decisions that are in the best interest of the athlete, all the while being mindful that the primary goal is getting them back to play as quickly—but as safely—as possible.”
In 2009, Cole received the National Basketball Association’s Team Physician of the Year Award, proof of what the Bulls organization already knew about their choice for medical care: “I used to think the care my athletes were getting was extraordinary until two of my friends went to Rush for orthopedic care. They were treated the same way that my athletes are treated,” says Tedeschi. “The same care that’s available to the Bulls is available to the general population.”
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