Living What They Learned, Doing What They Love

Osteopathic Alumni Embody Profession’s Ideals

Teresa Hubka, D.O.’89, M.S., FACOOG, FACOG, CS (right), and Lisa Green, D.O.’91, M.P.H. (left), work to achieve a greater good for their patients by keeping osteopathic philosophy at the heart of their endeavors.

AOA President-Elect Seeks to “Grow D.O.”

The seeds for Teresa Hubka’s osteopathic practice were planted early in her life. Her father, a Navy commander, taught her and her seven siblings to be lifelong learners. During her childhood in San Diego, her mother prepared fresh, homemade meals and took the kids to an osteopathic physician for their checkups.

“I didn’t know he was a D.O., but he was the most engaging person,” Hubka says. “He talked with us about nutrition and good health and made sure my mother was OK when our father was overseas.”

Those seeds inspired a remarkable career of leadership, patient care and teaching. An obstetrician/gynecologist and founder of Comprehensive Wellness Care LLC in Chicago, Hubka is past president of the Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society and the American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists. She also was the first woman president of the American Osteopathic Foundation.

A member of the American Osteopathic Association Board of Trustees since 2013, she has chaired many of its committees. In 2023, she was named Mentor of the Year by the AOA and the ACOOG. In July 2024, she will become the second woman and the first obstetrician/gynecologist to serve as president of the AOA.

“My goal is to keep osteopathic medicine at the forefront,” she says, offering an AOA flier featuring her handwritten message, “Grow D.O.,” and a paper disk embedded with herb seeds. “Patients need the type of care osteopathic physicians provide.”


A Loan To Open Her Private Practice Was a Leap of Faith

“I remember Day One. I have on my brand new white coat that says ‘Dr. Hubka,’ I’m all proud and starched and everything,” she said in a 2021 interview on the podcast D.O. or Do Not. “I had one patient. I thought, ‘Oh, my god, I’m going to die.’” Instead, she began “ask a doc” sessions in the student lounge at DePaul University, which led to her becoming the team physician for its women’s basketball team. She gave lectures and hosted talks around the city on women’s health topics. She worked “ridiculous hours” at her clinic and local hospitals. “That’s what grew the practice,” she said.

Teresa Hubka, D.O.’89, M.S., FACOOG, FACOG, CS speaks with D.O. students.

The Path to Her Passion

Hubka began her career as a registered dietitian, counseling adults and teaching in schools. “I loved working in the schools and with the teachers and students,” she says. “But I wanted to be the doctor.”

While in private practice, she was invited by E. Lee Rice, D.O., to teach nutrition and fitness at the San Diego Sports Medicine and Family Health Center. He encouraged her to apply to osteopathic schools. Hubka applied to both D.O. and allopathic programs, but the latter “just didn’t give me a warm and friendly feeling.” She chose DMU, then the University of Osteopathic Medicine and Health Sciences, instead.

“DMU gave me such a great foundation. The students were amazing, and the faculty cared,” she says. As a first-year student, she joined the College of Osteopathic Medicine Student Government Association and connected with Iowa Osteopathic Medical Association members. She became a student delegate to the AOA House of Delegates. She was later elected secretary/treasurer of the Council of Osteopathic Student Government Presidents, which represents osteopathic students to the AOA and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine.

“The osteopathic physicians I met put their arms around us students and said, ‘Come along with us,’” she says. “And I wasn’t shy.”

At DMU, Hubka enjoyed all her rotations and initially considered sports medicine or emergency medicine. “But follow-through with patients was too important to me,” she says. During her internship at the Atlantic City Medical Center in New Jersey, she fell in love with obstetrics and gynecology.

“Every day was different. I’d be delivering a baby, watching the eyes of the mom and dad, and from there going to the office to talk with patients and having those relationships. That fits me the most — the variety, the surgery and being able to develop those relationships at key moments in a woman’s life,” she says. “I know the patients in my practice very well. It’s always what I call a fun, holistic day.”

Hubka’s days also often entail speaking engagements in her various roles with AOA, as an expert on women’s health and as a clinical professor and of obstetrics and gynecology at Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine. She mentors students and residents at her practice and several Chicago hospitals.

“I’m so grateful for the mentors who brought me along. Part of my job is to pass that guidance on to others,” she says. That gratitude has inspired her professional leadership, too.

“Our training as D.O.s is to remain active in our profession. Leadership roles are proud moments for me because I want to make a difference,” she says. “I didn’t want to just be a doctor; I wanted to be a D.O. I feel like it’s a gift I’ve been given. I’m proud to be a D.O. It certainly has been the right path for me.”

Alumna Changes the World “One Dot at a Time”

Lisa Green, D.O.’91, M.P.H., was just a kid when she began watching the 1970s ABC medical drama, “Marcus Welby, M.D.” The lead role’s dedicated, compassionate care made an impression on her.

“I was like 6 or 7 when I decided that was what I was going to do,” she says.

In high school and college, she volunteered at south-side Chicago hospitals and clinics. When she volunteered in the clinic of Anthony Becker, D.O., in the now-defunct Chicago Osteopathic Hospital, she found her Marcus Welby.

“What made his office so different was that he had programs to help people with substance abuse, homelessness and mental health issues. His clinic embodied a holistic approach to the patient without putting a stigma on one issue or leaving out the other.

“That made me know I wanted to be a D.O. He was changing communities one person at a time, and each person had value,” she adds.

Now the CEO and co-founder of the Family Christian Health Center in Illinois, Green applies that same wraparound, holistic care model.


Responsive Health Care for the Community

As a family medicine resident in Cook County, Illinois, Green was praised by the residency director for her “great heart for medicine.” She also took his advice to pursue a master’s degree in health policy and administration to understand the industry’s business side. Around that time, Ingalls Memorial Hospital in Harvey, Illinois, invited her to practice at a new family medicine clinic. Within a year, she had a full practice but observed a major problem.

“I was floored that over 90% of the doctors in the area didn’t take Medicaid or provide care to underserved, uninsured patients,” she says.

Green and colleague Cynthia Jones, M.D., M.P.H., took over the clinic and filled out the extensive paperwork to become a federally qualified health center. Such centers receive enhanced Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement and other funding benefits by providing comprehensive services to underserved populations on a sliding fee scale.

“We knew it was in God’s hands because there was a flood in downtown Chicago that year. Everybody’s paperwork got destroyed except ours because it was on the top of the pile,” Green says.

In 2000, Green and Jones opened the Family Christian Health Center in a small medical building on the hospital campus. When the practice outgrew its space, they moved to a nearby building slated to become a parking lot.

On a recent day, its lobby and exam rooms were full before 10 a.m. FCHC serves more than 22,000 patients from 59 zip codes and provides 60,000-plus patient visits per year.

“If you treat people with dignity and respect, they will come,” Green says. “We package up as many services as possible because for patients who use public transportation, getting to appointments can take hours roundtrip.”

Lisa Green, D.O.’91, M.P.H. , meets with a patient at the Family Christian Health Center.

When ZIP Codes Define One’s Health

Green sees daily that where people live dramatically shapes their quality of life. In 2017, she began talking with CEOs of other south-side Chicago federally qualified health centers about their patients’ struggles. The group started to meet regularly to better understand and collect data on local population health.

The group’s months of collaborating helped prepare them to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. They organized a weekly food distribution. A large church in the area asked them to arrange a COVID-19 vaccine event.

“I said let’s not just give people a COVID vaccine. Let’s check their blood pressure and give them medications for their diabetes and as many resources as we can while we have their attention,” Green says. “We serviced 1,000 families in a two-day event.”

That was just another example of how Green incorporates the osteopathic philosophy into her practice.


Tackling a National Shame: Black Maternal Mortality

In 2019, Green was alerted to the nation’s escalating maternal mortality rates, particularly among women of color. The National Center for Health Statistics reported a 40% rise in pregnancy and postpartum deaths in 2021, the highest maternal mortality rate since 1965.

Black mothers bear the brunt of this crisis. They are six times more likely to die from pregnancy-related conditions than white women, according to a March of Dimes study. Black infants are four times more likely to die from low birth rate complications than white babies, says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

As usual, Green was spurred into action. She collaborated with other health professionals to organize a solutions-focused forum in February 2020. As a result, Illinois now offers at-home blood pressure monitoring kits as a covered benefit for prenatal and postpartum women, including those on Medicaid. Illinois also joined 30 other states in providing Medicaid coverage for women for a year after pregnancy.

Green wanted to do more. In February 2021, she and her colleagues returned to the original home of FCHC to open a new Maternal Child Health and Wellness clinic. Its obstetricians, gynecologists and pediatricians provide preventive care and child and high-risk pregnancy care. They connect patients to case managers to help them navigate the health care system, access behavioral health services and other resources. In December, the clinic obtained a level 2 ultrasound machine to perform scans on pregnant women.

“We’re trying to make sure there is a complete, sustainable ecosystem that allows Black mothers to get the care they need,” Green says. “We are an opportunity to set people up for success. Because if we don’t, then who will?”


With So Much in Health Care To Fix, Start Where You Are

Recipient of the 2022 Innovation in Healthcare Delivery Award from the Institute of Medicine of Chicago, Green points to the large world map on the wall behind her clinic desk. “I look at that world map and the dot we represent. I believe you can change whatever your dot is one person at a time,” she says. “When you take on one challenge at a time, it gains momentum, and that’s how you change the community. That’s how you change a city, a state and a nation. We can’t afford to lose hope. That is not an option.”

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