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For over 100 years, the Institute of Medicine of Chicago (IOMC) has made significant contributions to the practice of medicine and the business of healthcare. As a uniquely multi-institutional and multi-disciplinary organization, IOMC provides an independent, neutral forum for the Chicago region’s health leaders to convene, collaborate, and contribute to the health of the city.


Twenty-nine prominent Chicago physicians gather on April 22 to discuss the creation of an independent organization that would engage practitioners of the various medical specialties in developing medical and public health activities in the city and establish standards of medical service. The Institute of Medicine of Chicago is born, and incorporation papers are signed by Frank Billings, MD, Ludvig Hektoen, MD, and William Allen Pusey, MD.


The first edition of The Proceedings of the Institute of Medicine of Chicago is published. The Proceedings became an indispensable compilation of medical papers, research, important medical events, and IOMC news. In 1945, The Proceedings was listed in the Index Medicus.


The Institute of Medicine of Chicago implemented the first autopsy survey of Chicago hospitals. A hospital’s autopsy rate was a key indicator of its quality of care and IOMC’s survey brought this critical data to the public’s attention.


IOMC began a study of the office of the Coroner, an elected official with little or no medical background. The study led to a public education and advocacy campaign aimed at changing Illinois law to establish a medical examiner system in the state. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, IOMC collaborated with the Chicago Bar Association, the Illinois State Medical Society, the Commonwealth Club of Chicago, and other allied organizations in this effort, ultimately succeeding in replacing the coroner with a trained physician medical examiner.


IOMC and other community groups petitioned the City Council to increase emergency public ambulance service. Due to these efforts, the City acquired 14 ambulances, though it restricted their use to accidents, fires, and other catastrophes. The Institute continued to monitor ambulance service and worked with the City Council and Mayor Martin Kennelly in the 1950s to increase the scope of ambulance services to include transportation of sick people.


The Institute worked with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations to encourage hospitals in Chicago to hire African American physicians.


IOMC advocated for the Medical Practice Act. The Act outlawed fee splitting, a practice of kickbacks for referrals among physicians. IOMC helped to bring fee splitting to the public’s attention and worked with hospital administrators to end the practice.


IOMC and Rush University Medical Center established the Henry P. Russe, MD, Citation for Exemplary Compassion in Healthcare. This ongoing award demonstrates, as Dr. Russe exemplified, that humanitarianism must characterize the practice of medicine and medical education beyond just science, technology and personal skillfulness, and that compassion was also essential in caring for the health of the citizens of Chicagoland.


IOMC established a partnership with the Portes Foundation, which funds two to three grants each year that target the promotion of health or prevention of disease. To date, more than $765,000 has been distributed. As part of this partnership, IOMC and Portes, through the Portes/IOMC Award for Excellence in Prevention of Disease, also honor individuals in the Chicago metropolitan area who have shown excellence in health promotion through contributions in the areas of disease prevention and the remediation of disability and human suffering.

For many years, IOMC has enhanced the quality of healthcare by recognizing the outstanding contributions of healthcare professionals through its awards program. In addition to the Russe Citation for Exemplary Compassion in Healthcare and the Portes/IOMC Award for Excellence in Prevention of Disease, IOMC bestows the IOMC Public Service Award, the IOMC Humanitarian Global Health Award, the IOMC Recognition Award in Patient Safety, and on occasion, the Lifetime Achievement Award.


In response to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy’s seminal report, “To Err Is Human,” IOMC established the Chicago Patient Safety Forum. The program ultimately became an official Patient Safety Organization, which allowed it to collect patient safety data. The Chicago Patient Safety Forum became an independent organization in 2010. Today it is known as Project Patient Care, an independent nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving the safest and highest quality health care for all people in Chicagoland.


IOMC hosted the Disparities in Health Conference to address racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare. The issue became a priority for IOMC, and subsequent programs and community partnerships were developed to decrease disparities, most notably through community health worker outreach in partnership with local community health centers.


IOMC became a member of the Illinois Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Fellows met with legislators, submitted editorials to their local papers, and supported the Campaign’s efforts to end gun violence.


IOMC and the Chicago Region Advance Care Planning Coalition launched the “Someone to Trust” advance care planning initiative. The focus of “Someone to Trust” was to overcome the barriers to advance care planning and ensure that completed directives are accessible and honored. “Someone to Trust” and its affiliated organizations trained 200 advance care planning facilitators, provided education and training on advance care planning to healthcare professionals and community volunteers, and spearheaded efforts to make systemic improvements in end-of-life healthcare.


IOMC hosts its first annual State of the Health of Chicago. The program brings together the region’s leading health stakeholders and policymakers to raise awareness of the serious challenges impacting the health of the citizens of Chicago, and to explore methods for the health community to collaborate to reduce these barriers to good health.

Through the years, IOMC has sponsored many conferences devoted to important healthcare problems. The Institute convenes an annual healthcare forum that addresses scientific advances in healthcare or significant socioeconomic issues in healthcare. The forum, which features leading health professionals, is open to the public and held prior to the Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner.

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