September 2016

Witz family support spans three generations


In the early 1960’s Leo Witz formed a relationship with Swedish Covenant Hospital that has spanned nearly six decades and three generations. In this time, the Witz family and Continental Electrical Construction Company have contributed to nearly every part of the development of Swedish Covenant Hospital, from the construction of Anderson Pavilion to the Mayora Rosenberg Women’s Health Center, helping to transform the hospital to the institution it is today.

Eugene Witz continued the family’s legacy of giving to Swedish Covenant Hospital. A member of the Board of Directors, Eugene was one of the original conceptualizers of Galter LifeCenter and advocated for the facility in the 70’s and 80’s. Following in their father and grandfathers’ footsteps, Steven and David Witz have proven loyal supporters of Swedish Covenant Hospital through contributions, including generous elite sponsors of the annual benefit gala.

“Swedish Covenant Hospital has continued to receive high marks among its peers and industry-wide as a premier health care institution in Chicago; this is the type of institution that Continental Electrical appreciates being part of,” Steven said. “We have always been treated fairly in the electrical work we have done for the hospital and appreciate the relationships that have formed over the years.”

Founded in 1912, Steven and David Witz are the fourth generation family owners of Continental Electrical. With company headquarters located in Oak Brook, Ill., Continental Electrical is the premier electrical contractor in the Chicago land area and one of the largest enterprises of its kind in the Midwest. The company works with clients spanning a variety of industries, from high-rises to hospital, including Swedish Covenant Hospital.

The extent of the Witz family and Continental Electricals’ generosity extends beyond Swedish Covenant Hospital. The company, along with the Witz Family Foundation, prioritizes being a good corporate neighbor and investing in the communities where they do business. They contribute annually to well over 20 charities, in addition to holding regular blood donation drives.

In support of an employee’s daughter, who was diagnosed with Lymphoma, Continental Electrical became involved with the American Cancer Society. Continental Electrical was integral in organizing industry outreach in support of ACS. From this, The Chicago Electrical Industry community outreach group, CEI, was born. Now in their sixth year, The Chicago Electrical Industry brought together 32 teams, consisting of 700 participants and raised more than $200,000 for the American Cancer Society Walk & Roll event. Since 2011, the group has raised more than $1.3M.

“We are incredibly grateful for the ongoing support of the Witz family and Continental Electrical Construction Company,” said Jennifer Tscherney, executive director of Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation. “Their support of initiatives throughout the hospital including the Women’s Health Initiative emergency department and cancer care, has made a tremendous impact on the lives of our patients.”

The Witz family and Continental Electrical Construction Company are being honored with the 2016 Spirit of Compassion Award, to be presented at the hospital’s annual benefit gala on October 22. The award was established in 2002, to give special recognition to those individuals “who have given selflessly of themselves to improve the human condition of others, not only at Swedish Covenant Hospital but throughout the world.”

To learn more about the 2016 Annual Benefit Gala, Kaleidoscope, click here.

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Clinic provides breastfeeding support to new moms


In Spring 2015, Swedish Covenant Hospital introduced Chicago’s very first hospital-based outpatient breastfeeding clinic to support new moms. Generous donations to the hospital supported the development of the clinic, allowing Swedish Covenant Hospital to remove geographic and financial barriers to lactation support. Since its opening, the clinic has provided help to hundreds of new moms, including Hilary B.

Like many babies born at 37 weeks, Hilary’s son had difficulty breastfeeding. It took seven weeks, but with the help of Gwenan Wilbur, an International Board-Certified Lactation Consultant, in the outpatient breastfeeding clinic, Hilary’s son began to breastfeed exclusively.

“This was an incredibly challenging and exhausting experience,” Hilary said. “The clinic provided the physical and emotional support I needed to get through this stressful time.”

Housed in the Mayora Rosenberg Women’s Health Center, the clinic was created to serve women who deliver at Swedish Covenant Hospital, as well as the community at large. It is the only clinic of its kind in the City of Chicago – similar services are offered at suburban hospitals, or through home visits. The clinic is unique in that it is one of few that provides hands-on professional breastfeeding support from a certified lactation consultant that is billed directly to insurance, including Medicaid. Alternative options often require costly up-front payments, making it inaccessible for low-income families, as well as the insured, that must make a payment up front and file for insurance reimbursement.

“What is beautiful about this program is that we are able to bill insurance, as well as Medicaid. If we weren’t able to offer this service, mom’s like Hilary would have had to write a $230 check up front for each home visit and she may not have received the ongoing support she needed,” Gwenan said.

According to the Surgeon General, breastfeeding has many health benefits for mothers and their babies, in addition to economic benefits. Breastfeeding protects babies from infections and illnesses, and reduces likelihood of the baby developing asthma, obesity and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Mothers who breastfeed have a decreased risk of breast and ovarian cancers. However, according to the Illinois Breastfeeding Blueprint, women interviewed from all socio-economic and ethnic groups cited a lack of confidence and lack of support for breastfeeding. Women felt they did not receive enough support from their family, hospitals, the WIC program, employers or schools. They also felt that education about breastfeeding was either very poor or completely missing.

“We are so grateful for the grant received from the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation,” Gwenan said. “Without those funds, as well as the coordination of many SCH employees in developing the clinic, we would not be able to provide these much needed services to women in our community.”

To learn more about the Outpatient Breastfeeding Clinic, visit the Swedish Covenant Hospital website. To support the Outpatient Breastfeeding Clinic at Swedish Covenant Hospital, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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Associates’ Board donation funds iPads for cancer center


Clinicians in Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Cancer Center now have a new tool for patient education, thanks to the generosity of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates Board. With funds’ raised through hosting events, the Board funded the purchase of four iPads to be used for patient care.

“The Associates Board is honored to be able to provide new iPads to the Cancer Center,” said Andrew Giger, president of Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board. “One of our board members at the time was a dietician in the Cancer Center.  She demonstrated the capabilities to show information regarding proper nutrition, exercise and information regarding required prescriptions in real-time with patients during consultations.”

In addition to education related to dietetics, clinicians including nurses, navigators, physicians and pharmacists will use the devices to teach patients about medications, facts about their disease, and links to useful educational and supportive websites, such as the American Cancer Society.

Cancer Navigator, Kayla Innis has found the iPads to be especially useful in sharing resources, such as recipes, mindfulness tools, data and educational videos.

“Patients have so much anxiety around feelings, worries and physical symptoms. It’s good to be able to respond quickly to these concerns and look at resources together on the iPad, rather than having to email later,” Kayla said.

Not only do the iPads allow her to provide information to patients as she is meeting with them, but it also allows her to explore useful apps that she can recommend to patients to download to their own personal devices. One app that she has found useful is a mindfulness app that she has used to guide patients through meditation.

According to Kayla, going forward, clinicians have identified new uses, including administering distress screenings. Currently, the screenings are provided via a written survey. However, plans are in the works to connect the iPads to the hospital electronic health record system. This will allow clinicians to access screenings electronically and deliver the surveys verbally and in person.

“Patient engagement is critical to improved outcomes; we are happy to be able to provide technology to help that along,” Andrew said.

The Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board is a group of young professionals who raise funds, increase public awareness and perform community service on behalf of SCH. They hold fundraising events throughout the year, including the upcoming Bar on Buena Beer Tasting Fundraiser on Thursday, September 22. For more information, click here.

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Employees give back to improve patient care


Whether providing bedside care, registering a patient for services or helping a patient schedule an appointment, Swedish Covenant Hospital employees are key to enhancing the patient experience. The Patient Care Fund was created to harness the ideas of employees to enhance patient care. However, employees gave more than just ideas to this project. Through an employee fundraising campaign, employees contributed nearly $70,000 to put these ideas into action.

Funds raised through the employee campaign will help to expand a new concierge program to provide personalized services to patients and their families, reach more patients through the healing arts program; provide live music throughout the hospital; and provide comfort packages for patients.

Piloted in Spring 2016, the concierge program offers items from teas to toiletries to help make patients more comfortable during their hospital stay. According to Anne Murphy, Patient Experience Manager, it is an extra way to show patients that as a hospital, we care about their health and well-being. A concierge visits newly admitted patients daily to welcome them to Swedish Covenant Hospital and provides a menu of items and services, the most popular of which are lip balm, lotion and eye masks.

“The concierge program is a way to ‘make the ordinary extraordinary’ by surpassing patient expectations and communicating that a patient choosing Swedish Covenant Hospital for their care is deserving of our gratitude,” Anne said.

According to Anne, patients have been incredibly appreciative of these small tokens of comfort. She recalls being able to provide a coloring book and crayons to a child who was visiting a hospitalized parent and providing mints to a patient who was agitated because of heartburn.

Employees were challenged by a generous matching grant from the Swedish Covenant Hospital Medical Staff. The Medical Staff agreed to match every dollar donated, up to $50,000. More than 60 employees generously contributed to support the patients they serve every day. Our employees responded to the campaign for many reasons. We asked what inspired them to contribute to the campaign; their answers are below.

“Helping and giving to others is the foundation of nursing.”
– Eva Peroulas, RN, MSN

“Giving is the foundation of the healthcare.”
– Jasmina Stekovic

“Swedish Covenant Hospital is a jewel. This place is the best. You have to support what you believe in.”
– Robyn Jackson

 “I am inspired to give because of the caring and inspiring people I have the pleasure to work with.”
– Christina Simms

“I am inspired to give because the community and my family need Swedish Covenant Hospital to be the best it can be.”
– Francie Habash

Thank you to all of the employees who contributed to the campaign.

The 2016 Annual Benefit Gala will also benefit the Patient Care Fund. To learn more about the gala, click here.

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