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Daniel Ivankovich, Uptown Surgeon, Named CNN Top 10 Hero, Wins $10K Prize

By Josh McGhee | October 8, 2015 12:08pm
 Dr. Daniel Ivankovich was featured on CNN Heroes for not-for-profit work around Chicago.
Dr. Daniel Ivankovich was featured on CNN Heroes for not-for-profit work around Chicago.
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Courtesy of Ivankovich

UPTOWN — Dr. Daniel Ivankovich, who was named a CNN Hero earlier this year, has now been named one of the top 10 heroes of the year, netting the Uptown Surgeon $10,000 and the opportunity to become CNN's Hero of the Year.

All of the heroes will be honored at the "CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute," which will air on CNN at 8 p.m. Dec. 6, according to CNN. To vote for Ivankovich or any of the other heroes, which you can do once a day, click here.

The orthopedic surgeon and his work have been celebrated in his field for years, but he was recently spotlit more publicly with the series that celebrates "everyday people changing the world," in July for his nonprofit work. He's no stranger to attention — in 2010, he was also named a Chicagoan of the Year by Chicago Magazine.

Dr. Ivankovich at work. [DNAinfo/Josh McGhee]

When Ivankovich and his wife Dr. Karla Ivankovich, née Carwile, saw how hard it was for patients to get basic health services, they founded OnePatient Global Health Initiative, a not-for-profit organization designed to establish sustainable programs of outreach, prevention and patient education at multiple locations throughout Chicago as well as Haiti, according to their website.

"What really drove me was [my time at] Cook County Hospital. I don’t really know what it’s like today, but the same patients I was seeing when I was an intern were still waiting for surgery when I was a chief resident," Ivankovich said. "They had waiting lists of almost five years. Hundreds of patients that were basically being ignored for whatever reason. it just didn’t seem very appropriate for me. And 95% of them were African-American and the issue was they were very loyal to the Cook County system."

Before medical school, Ivankovich was a force on the basketball court. He graduated high school just days after turning 17, a highly recruited basketball player, and settled at Northwestern University, he said.

But his time as a young basketball star in Chicago had exposed to much different parts of the city, he said, teaching him a different set of lessons.

"As a basketball player, I was usually the only white guy. I went through all these [different] areas playing in all-star and all-American games," Ivankovich said. "We practiced down on 83rd, down in Avalon Park. I would go down to see a lot of my teammates that lived in Cabrini-Green, Ida Wells, Robert Taylor. I would go pick them up all the time. Going through all the craziness of broken elevators and having to run up 14 flights of stairs in the middle of the summer, I got a pretty good understanding of what disparity was."

Ivankovich says he doesn't mind the hours. Sacrificing his time is a small price for him to pay to make sure people who may not be able to afford medical care can get the same treatment as people who can — something he believes everyone is entitled to.

"As much as the desire of health reform was trying to equalize things and level the playing field, it’s never been more segregated," he said. "It’s like if you’re black and you’re poor, or you’re brown and you’re poor, 'you get to go here and everyone else come over here.'

For more on Daniel Ivankovich and his work click here.

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