David Ansell will speak in Sacramento on his experiences at Cook County Hospital in Chicago — the inspiration for the crisis-driven hospital portrayed on the hit TV show “ER” — and how it shaped his career as a physician and activist dedicated to expanding access to quality health care for the poor.

The lecture takes place Tuesday, Feb. 28, at 5:30 p.m. in the UC Davis Cancer Center auditorium, 4501 X St. in Sacramento, with a reception for the speaker at 5 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. Reservations are requested by e-mail to snively@ucdmc.ucdavis.edu.

Ansell’s lecture — “County: Life, Death and Politics at Chicago’s Public Hospital” — is based on his book, a social history of the underfunded public hospital in urban Chicago where most of the city’s uninsured came for treatment before it closed in 2002. Today, Ansell is an internist, chief medical officer and vice president of clinical affairs at Rush University Medical Center. What he witnessed early in his career still inspires him to fight for patients’ rights and access to quality health care.

During his lecture, Ansell will highlight the lessons of Cook County Hospital that he believes could help eliminate persistent gaps in care based on ability to pay. He is currently promoting “Medicare for all,” a single-payer system that he believes would remove coverage discrepancies and improve access to preventive care.

“Dr. Ansell worked for nearly two decades in a system that was fragile and broken yet he still found a way to make significant changes, including launching a breast-cancer screening program,” said Kay Nelsen, an associate professor of family and community medicine and the faculty sponsor for the lecture. “He continues to effectively merge his roles as a physician and activist to ensure that disparities are minimized and that all patients receive the basic care that everyone deserves.”

Ansell’s lecture is sponsored by the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine and the Snively Visiting Professorship.

George Snively was chair of the UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine during the formative years of the family-practice discipline. The visiting professorship was established following his death to honor his outstanding leadership, passion for training the next generation of primary-care clinicians and dedication to providing the community with opportunities to hear from leading minds in primary care.

The UC Davis Department of Family and Community Medicine provides comprehensive, compassionate and personal care for patients within the context of family and community. The medical team integrates a humanistic approach to treating the “whole person” with evidence-based care. Special areas of faculty research are health-behavior change, physician-patient communication, chronic-illness care, women’s health issues, and reducing racial and ethnic health disparities. For information, visit www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/famcommed.