GBS alumnus recognized as CNN hero

Anushka Kalra , staff reporter

Dr. Daniel Ivankovich, 1981 GBS alumnus,  was selected by news network CNN as a Top 10 Hero of 2015 for his work at orthopedic clinics in Chicago.

“For the past 20 years, I’ve been working to battle healthcare [inequality] in some of the most marginalized communities in [Chicago],” Ivankovich said. “Despite the fact that Chicago is a world-class city, 40 percent of the people live in poverty.”

Of this 40 percent, many have been denied care multiple times by mainstream surgeons because of lack of health insurance, Ivankovich explained. Motivated by the patients that he met while working at the Cook County hospital, Ivankovich and his wife, Karla, started their own non-profit organization called OnePatient Global Health Initiative.  

“We see about 100 patients a week and perform 10 to 15 surgical procedures a week,” Ivankovich said. “Our practice focuses on patients who [can’t afford or] simply do not have access to proper health care.”

Ivankovich runs three clinics in different locations along the south side of the city. Patients from all around Illinois visit these clinics, bringing with them a diverse range of health issues for Ivankovich and his team.

“When patients come to see us, they are assessed medically, evaluated orthopedically and also given a behavioral examination,” Ivankovich said.  “So, not only are we looking at their [physical illness],  but we [check if] they are depressed [and] how they behave socially.”

According to Ivankovich, many patients suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which comes from living in areas with constant violence or experiencing a traumatic event.

“In order for the patients to heal, there needs to be a process which involves mind, body and spirit,” Ivankovich said. “We look at the human being sitting before us and attempting to [assess] how the treatment of their bone or tendon can be of maximum benefit.”

 However, the patients can be cautious and cynical when it comes to the medical system, due to  having been rejected many times by other medical practitioners, Ivankovich explained. To build trust with his patients,  Ivankovich works with them to create a path for their improved health.

“We empower them to realize their potential,” Ivankovich said. “Many of these patients have poor self-esteem. They say, ‘We have always felt like nothing, and you, and Dr. Karla [Ivankovich] make us like something.’”

Despite being deeply involved in his clinic, Daniel makes sure that he spends time with his daughter, South junior Kati Ivankovich. In fact, his work has inspired his daughter to go into the medical field.

“I just feel like he makes a difference,” Kati said. “Sometimes he sits me down in the mornings, and we talk about local and world issues, and I’m inspired by how much he cares.”

Along with his award, CNN produced a documentary about Daniel which aired Dec. 6.