With high unemployment, the state budget crisis, the H1N1 epidemic and the economic downturn, you might wonder what we have to celebrate. But it is during hard times that it is particularly important to look for those people and events that should be celebrated. These celebrations remind us of all that we have accomplished and warm our hearts so that we have the strength to continue to build.
On October 7, 2009, the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria (UICOMP) hosted its first annual Celebration of Excellence. This gathering recognized 43 volunteer and full-time faculty for their contributions to the education of medical students. Our medical school is heavily dependent on physicians who volunteer their time to teach students. These volunteers join a core group of full-time teaching physicians and jointly provide a level of medical student education that matches or exceeds what is offered anywhere in the state. This level of commitment is worthy of recognition and clearly something to celebrate.
At the same gathering, UICOMP gave out the Community Health Awards. These awards celebrate one individual and one organization whose efforts have improved the health of our community. Dr. William Albers, a pediatric cardiologist, received the individual award. He played a key role in the development of the Children’s Hospital of Illinois and in the evolution of the medical school. He consistently supports projects that benefit children, and is a strong advocate for medical education. His hard work has changed our community for the better.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Peoria Memorial Affiliate received the organizational award. It is a joy to be able to celebrate all that this organization has accomplished for the women of central Illinois and those who love them. Their success at increasing breast cancer awareness, supporting research, increasing access for the underserved and promoting breast cancer education through events such as UICOMP’s recent Breast Cancer Symposium are truly changing the course of this disease.
Celebrations recognize accomplishments, build camaraderie, improve morale and give back to those who have supported us. The size and cost of the celebration is less important than the appreciation it expresses. UICOMP is thankful for all that our community has done for us and thankful for being part of a community that is so supportive.
As UICOMP enters its 40th year, we are preparing for a year’s worth of celebration. We have a lot to be thankful for. We are fulfilling our core mission, which is to train physicians for downstate Illinois. We are expanding our educational mission with the addition of a new psychiatry residency. We are strengthening our research mission by building a new cancer research facility that will expand the number of faculty devoted to research and help us make groundbreaking discoveries to aid the fight against cancer. We provide exceptional patient care and are working with our partner hospitals to strengthen Peoria’s position as a regional medical referral site. During this 40th year, we will be celebrating our history, our accomplishments and the many people in our community who have helped us to become what we are and who are working with us to create an even brighter future. iBi