Joliet Dr. Adnan Hussain stresses ‘care’ for patients and providers

Dr. Adnan Hussain, emergency department doctor at Ascension Saint Joseph-Joliet, poses for a photo on Monday, April 1, 2024 in Joliet.

Care is essential for patients and providers at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet, said Dr. Adnan Hussain, an emergency department doctor and former medical director of the hospital’s ED.

The American College of Emergency Physicians recognized Hussain in 2020 with its Community Emergency Medicine Excellence Award for his “outstanding contributions to care in Joliet and its surrounding communities,” according to a news release from the Illinois College of Emergency Physicians.

Hussain also is the regional director of Vituity, a health care company owned and led by doctors. Vituity provides emergency medicine services at several Ascension hospitals, including the Joliet hospital commonly known as St. Joesph’s.

He wants patients to know what a “unique environment” the ED is. Because even during long wait times, systems are in place to make sure everyone gets good care and that providers have their eyes on the patients during their entire stay, Hussain said.

“I think it’s important for patients to know they are in a safe place and we want to take care of them,” Hussain said.

That level of “care” is why Hussain loves emergency medicine. He’s awed at the trust that patients give him, whether they’ve hit their head or having chest pains.

“The ability to share that candidly with a physician they just met is very humbling,” Hussain said. “It’s an honor to serve the community.”

I think it’s important for patients to know they are in a safe place and we want to take care of them.”

—  Dr. Adnan Hussain, emergency room doctor at Ascension Saint Joseph – Joliet

Having grown up in the Homewood-Flossmoor area, Hussain is thrilled to deliver care so close to home.

“I was always a science kid and so had taken a lot of advanced classes through high school,” Hussain said. “In college, I actually double-majored in biology and economics. At that time, I was very interested in entrepreneurship. I got to run a house-painting business for two years and, while certainly not related to health care, it did get me very interested in small business and the idea of entrepreneurship.”

That’s how Hussain realized that health care “isn’t an industry like other industries” and that he’d need to develop his science knowledge and learn the practical aspects of medicine, he said.

Yet, Hussain’s entrepreneurial experiences are valuable, too, in his medical roles.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to help with some of the more administrative components as well,” he said.

Hussain attended George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences in Washington, D.C., but he completed his residency training in emergency medicine at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, according to the release, and came to Joliet in 2017.

“Chicagoland is home for me,” Hussain said. “And it was really nice to be able to return, to be able to serve, generally speaking, the community I grew up in.”

Hussain said he was in medical school and seeking a specialty when he discovered that emergency medicine appealed to him. In the emergency room, Hussain treated people of a wide variety of ages with a variety of diseases, he said. Hussain might take care of a newborn in one minute and a dying patient in the next, he said.

“I think the intensity of the practice is both the challenge and the appeal,” Hussain said, later adding: “Every shift I have every day is going to be different. I don’t know who I’m going to be seeing or what problems I’ll be faced with. But there is a very large reward in having the privilege of being able to take care of people, sometimes on the worst day of their life.”

Hussain said talking to patients and their families directly, honestly and sincerely, while also providing comfort is “a skill which gets developed over time” and gets easier.

But as doctors care for patients, he said, it’s important that doctors take care of their own needs – both physical and emotional.

“It’s like on the plane,” Hussain said. “You put your own oxygen on first before helping others.”

He said doctors should take time to process trauma to avoid the second victim phenomenon. The Joint Commission, a U.S. accrediting nonprofit, said the second victim is most commonly the provider closest to patient care when the patient dies.

Hussain said now that the “emotional toll” on providers is recognized in health care, more resources are becoming available to process that grief.

“When you feel good, you are better able to care for others,” Hussain said.