January 2019

Housing Connections Program



Being homeless has a significant negative impact on a person’s health. This unique program has shown that it can help put people on a path to better health by providing housing along with ongoing support,” said Anthony Guaccio, President and CEO of Swedish Covenant Health.

Swedish Covenant Hospital and the Center for Housing and Health (CHH) have been working together since 2017 to improve the lives of 10 chronically homeless individuals who are frequent patients in the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED). CHH pays for the housing with a federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), while funds from the SCH Foundation provide intensive, medical and counseling support services.

To support the Housing Connections Program, DONATE HERE.

Ten participants were selected in consultation with the Hospital’s Emergency Department staff and ER Clinical Director, Kimberly Leslie. Each month, Ms. Leslie examined a list of the top 50 frequents users of the ER and then went to work contacting each one, gaining their trust and trying to persuade them to join the program.  The work was tedious and time-consuming, but in the end, ten participants were finally selected and provided with:

  • Permanent housing
  • Monthly rental subsidy payments
  • Assistance in securing critical documents (birth certificates, ID, Social Security cards)
  • Education on tenancy skills such as budgeting and paying rent
  • Enrollment in public benefit programs including Medicaid
  • Referrals for medical services, behavioral health, job training, MCO insurance care coordination

Over the last two years, the Housing Connections program has proven to be life-changing for the participants and has helped the hospital save thousands of dollars by reducing expensive ER visits.  “We have seen a drastic drop in ER visits once these patients are provided with a stable home, counseling services and hope” said Kimberly Leslie, Clinical Director of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Emergency Department. “We are pleased that our initial participants in the program are starting on a path to improved health and safety”.

Bruce, for example, was a professional writer who after being hit by a car while biking, made a downward spiral, living in a shelter and then ultimately, under a viaduct. He made six visits to our ED over a three-month period and couldn’t function due to extreme depression. His life had hit rock bottom. With the help of SCH and the Housing Program, he is now living in an apartment, gets counseling and other social services and is currently enrolled as a student at Wright Jr. College. Bruce is feeling wonderful; he has a regained sense of pride, and more importantly, a sense of purpose.  He has only been back to the ED once since he moved into his apartment- and that was to say hello to Kimberly Leslie, the woman who gave him a chance.

Swedish Covenant Hospital’s commitment to the community is unique and our patient care extends far beyond the walls of the hospital. As Ms. Leslie points out, “We not only take care of their wounds and their illness, we can take care of the whole person.”

This program is made possible by the support of the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation Board and generous donations to the SCH Foundation. To support the Housing Connections program, please DONATE HERE, or contact the Foundation at Foundation@SwedishCovenant.org or 773-293-5121 for more information.

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Smoking Cessation Program Changes Lives


Susan has been a smoker since elementary school. She tried to quite on and off for over 30 years but never found success.  Susan lamented that, “it was difficult to stop because my husband was also a smoker, so there was always temptation in my house.”  With funding from the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation, the Smoking Cessation Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital has helped Susan and her husband finally end their relationship with cigarettes.

The woman behind this successful program is Carol Southard, RN, MSN, a tobacco treatment specialist, who provides the only hospital-based Smoking Cessation program in the city. This comprehensive, 8-week program combines group support sessions, relaxation and stress management strategies, nutrition and exercise advice and individualized interventions to help smokers quit tobacco.  With over 30 years of experience, Carol touts a 50+% success rate one-year post treatment by removing the guilt that smokers feel; focusing instead on health benefits and strategies for coping despite the desire and inevitable triggers.

For Susan and her husband, this approach was life-changing.  “I have tried to stop on and off for years, but Carol finally provided us with strategies and guidance that worked. We have now found hobbies to do instead of smoking; my husband cooks up a storm and my hobby is knitting and jewelry-making.”

The medical staff at SCH is also supportive of Carol and the Smoking Cessation program.  As Dr. Michael Shao, Vascular Surgeon, recounts,

“I am so grateful that the Foundation is supporting our Smoking Cessation Program.  It provides a critical service to our patients and really improves the health of our patients individually and the community as a whole.  Smoking is an under-recognized problem.  Much more attention is paid to the opioid crisis – which is also important- but smoking has an even greater impact on people and our society.”

Carol agrees, “Statistically, it’s more difficult to control the addiction of nicotine than heroin, cocaine or alcohol. The hardest part for most smokers is, how do I get through my day without a cigarette?” This program uses a comprehensive approach of cognitive and behavioral methods to create successful quitters. As Carol states, “It’s never too late to quit; No matter how long you’ve smoked, no matter how many cigarettes a day, no matter how many years, you benefit by quitting, and I help people do that.”

A new Smoking Cessation Session begins Tuesday, January 15, 2018. For more information or to register, visit SwedishCovenant.org/quitsmoking or call 773-878-6888. To donate, please contact the Foundation at Foundation@SwedishCovenant.org or 773-293-5121.

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Department of Justice Awards Grant for Violence Prevention Program


Victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking are found in every corner of the city-including the communities surrounding Swedish Covenant Hospital.  Since 2015, the program has served over 1,000 individuals- including 728 victims of domestic violence, 266 sexual assault survivors and 49 individuals showing signs of human trafficking.  The numbers are staggering, but Swedish Covenant Hospital decided to tackle the problem head-on.

The Violence Prevention Program (VPP) was developed to strengthen the hospital’s ability to identify and assist patients who are victims of violence The health care setting may be one of the only places where survivors are free from their abusers and have the opportunity to disclose their abuse—but this is only possible when a trusting relationship can be established. Unless that medical provider is trained to identify red flags and subtle signs of abuse, the opportunity to effectively help the victim is lost.

In order to take advantage of this potentially life-saving opportunity, the VPP trains healthcare providers to immediately identify victims through patient screenings, assess their immediate needs, provide them with comfort care packages and educational resources, and connects them with community-based partner agencies-including safe transport to emergency shelters, legal advocacy, and counseling.

Based upon the success of this model, as well as the VPP’s proven-track record, the program was recently awarded a $950,000 federal grant through the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime to enhance hospital-based victim services. Swedish Covenant Hospital was one of only eight organizations nation-wide to receive funding. This 2-year grant will allow SCH to better identify survivors and connect them to medical care and support services to improve their physical, emotional and financial recovery. Specifically, the program enhancements include:

  • Continue and enhance training for 1,000 clinicians in the areas of trauma informed care, domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual assault.
  • Trauma informed medical, dental and mental health care for victims of violence.
  • Sexual Assault Nurse Education (SANE) Training for 11 nurses to meet Illinois staffing mandates in 2022 and equipment to help strengthen evidence collection techniques.
  • Off-hours domestic violence advocacy through a tele-health platform and our partner, Apna Ghar.
  • A deeper connection with our current community partners, who include Apna Ghar, Between Friends, KAN-WIN, Salvation Army STOP-IT, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois, Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, and Resilience (formerly RVA).
  • New community partnerships to provide housing and workforce development resources for victims of abuse, including Sarah’s Circle, YWCA, HANA Center, and Jane Adams Resource Corporation.
  • Formation of a survivor-led advisory group and other leadership opportunities for survivors.

Healthcare providers are often the first defense for helping victims of interpersonal violence. Thanks to funding from the Department of Justice, SCH will now be able to deliver a comprehensive, survivor-centered program that will pull these victims out of the shadows and provide them with the resources needed to heal. Kate Lawler, Director of the VPP sums it up this way, “It feels very fitting to begin this grant in the New Year — a season of hope and new beginnings — this is what we want survivors of violence and abuse to find here at Swedish Covenant Health.”

To learn more about the Violence Prevention Program or how you can help, please contact the Foundation at Foundation@SwedishCovenant.org or 773-293-5121.

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SCH Gala raises $930,000 for the Family Birthing Center


It was the greatest show on Earth! On Saturday, October 27th, over 900 Swedish Covenant Hospital supporters, including hospital physicians and community leaders, came together at the Aon Grand Ballroom of Navy Pier to celebrate the 63nd Annual Benefit Gala, Le Cirque. The circus-themed event (complete with jugglers and acrobats) raised $930,000 for the Family Birthing Center and its programs.  Lourdes Duarte, co-anchor of the WGN Evening News, emceed the evening’s program, and Drs. Angel Rivera and Emily Rubenstein chaired the event.

“Hosting the gala was a great honor for Angel and me.  The night exceeded our expectations, both in fundraising and as a party. We were so pleased that the gala raised over our goal and that the Family Birthing Center will get the support the community needs,” Dr. Rubenstein said.

Proceeds from the event will enhance and update the physical appearance of the labor and delivery rooms and provide resources for new parents. Families will now have greater access to classes on child birth, breastfeeding and infant CPR, counseling and mental health services, safe sleep initiatives such as wearable blankets and co-sleepers, prenatal group sessions with other expectant mothers, and an outpatient lactation clinic

A highlight of the evening was honoring Mr. Charles (Chuck) Adair with the 2018 Spirit of Compassion Award.  This award recognizes an outstanding individual who has given selflessly of themselves with compassion to make a recognized impact on their community and others beyond the walls of Swedish Covenant Hospital.  Chuck has provided over 25 years of service and leadership to Swedish Covenant Hospital; as a member of the SCH Board of Directors since 1991 and a member of the Foundation Board since 2011. Chuck has also given of his time and management expertise for over 30 years to the Evangelical Covenant Church and Covenant Ministries of Benevolence.  In every role, for every audience, Chuck has led by example with grace, compassion, integrity and humility.  Congratulations Chuck Adair!

The Le Cirque Gala could not have happened without the generosity of our donors.  Special thanks to our Elite Sponsors, Swedish Covenant Hospital Medical Staff, Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, Medical Express Ambulance Service, Inc., The Adair Family, Continental Electrical Construction Company, Fifth Third Bank, North Park University, PNC, and Wintrust Chicago for their partnership.

Also, thank you to all of our supporters – Chairs, Drs. Angel Rivera and Emily Rubenstein, Co-Chairs, Drs. Frederman Concepcion and Rosibell Arcia-Diaz, and the gala committee, gala sponsors, guests, and volunteers – for making the Le Cirque a success.

View photos from the 2018 Gala.

To learn more about our next Gala set for October 26, 2019 at the Chicago Hilton, contact the Foundation at foundation@swedishcovenant.org or 773.293.5121.

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