November 2020

2020 Principles for Community Health Care Report



CONTACT: Ashley Tsuruda, Director of Development, Foundation and Corporate Relations

ADDRESS: 5145 N California Ave, Chicago, IL 60625

PHONE/EMAIL: 773-878-8700 x1070 /  

MISSION OF THE ORGANIZATION: To provide a continuum of excellent healthcare services. The hospital is dedicated to serving the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of its culturally diverse community.

  1. Identify the high risk/underserved and/or disadvantaged populations in the community(ies) that you serve and describe specifically the actions you have taken, based on relevant assessment data, to increase their accessibility to health services.

Swedish Hospital, located on the North side of Chicago, is a State of Illinois Safety Net Hospital located in a federally designated Health Professional Shortage Area and Medically Underserved Area. Swedish Hospital’s mission is to provide a continuum of excellent healthcare services to Chicago’s north and northwest sides. The hospital is dedicated to serving the physical, psychological and spiritual needs of its culturally diverse community. As of January 2020, Swedish Hospital is now part of the NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Swedish Hospital offers a wealth of medical and wellness services, including cancer, cardiac, surgical, and emergency treatment; family medicine, and obstetrical programs; psychiatric services, rehabilitation, critical care, and a range of integrative therapies. Additionally, Swedish Hospital operates numerous community programs, including a Diabetes Community Center, a Community Breast Health Program, a Chronic Disease Care Transitions Program, a Cancer Survivorship Program, and the Pathways Program (formerly called the Violence Prevention Program), as well as others. Each year, Swedish Hospital sees approximately 13,000 admissions, 50,000 emergency department visits, and 290,000 outpatient visits.

Swedish hospital, located in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood, serves a diverse patient population including immigrants and refugees from more than 60 nations. Of the over 300,000 individuals served by the organization last year across inpatient and outpatient services, 42% of patients were White, 27% Hispanic, 20% Asian, 7% African American, and 4% other. Among all of these patients, over 80 languages were spoken. Swedish also serves a large portion of patients with financial barriers to care. Across inpatient and outpatient services in the last year, 53% of patients were on Medicare, 28% were on Medicaid, and 8% of patients were uninsured. This data illustrates that our patient population is not only culturally- and linguistically-diverse, but comes from a variety of socio-economic backgrounds that present unique challenges to medical access. Therefore, Swedish Hospital’s community programs and ability to provide financial assistance for underserved populations is critical to the community’s health. Meeting the needs of community members who are underserved due to financial and culturla barriers has always been core to the hospital’s mission. To reduce linguistic and cultural barriers to care, SH recruits, trains, and hires a highly diverse medical staff.  Hospital staff represents more than 50 nationalities and speak over 55 languages. SH also employs Spanish, Korean, and Russian language interpreters and offers telephone translation services in over 180 languages. The hospital collaborates with numerous community agencies and groups to meet the needs of its multi-ethnic service area.

Swedish Hospital maintains a department dedicated to addressing its outreach objectives of serving the entire community, not only those who come through its doors. Building on a long tradition of service, the Community Relations Department utilizes hospital strengths alongside those of other well-established community partners. This strategy allows Swedish Hospital to better understand and reach the most vulnerable sectors of the community, while meeting pressing healthcare needs. The goal is to improve the community’s health status by empowering citizens to make healthy life choices.

To this end, Swedish Hospital and members of the Alliance for Health Equity (AHE), a collaborative of over 30 hospitals, 7 health departments, and 100 community partners, worked together to build the 2019 Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) in Chicago and Cook County. Using the Mobilizing for Action through Planning and Partnerships (MAPP) model for the CHNA, AHE emphasized the importance of community engagement, partnership development, and the dynamic interplay of factors and forces within the public health system. AHE chose this inclusive, community-driven process to leverage and align with health department assessments and to actively engage stakeholders, including community members, in identifying and addressing strategic priorities to advance health equity. As a result, the following health needs have been identified and will be prioritized within our community for FY20-22: 1) Addressing Social and Structural Determinants of Health, including Violence, Trauma and Community Safety, Conditions that Support Healthy Eating and Active Living and Housing and Neighborhood Environment ; 2) Addressing Chronic Conditions: Risk Factors, Prevention and Management, including Diabetes, Heart Disease and Hypertension, Obesity and Cancer; and 3) Improving Mental Health by Enhancing Access to Resources and Services. SCH will continue to partner with members of AHE and other key community partners within our service area to leverage existing resources and develop strategies which contribute to improving the most pressing health needs of our communities. Primary data for the CHNA was collected through four methods: 1) community input surveys; 2) community resident focus groups and learning map sessions; 3) health care and social service provider focus groups; and 4) two stakeholder assessments led by partner health departments – Forces of Change Assessment and Health Equity Capacity Assessment.

  1. Describe specifically the strategies you have used to gather input from high risk, underserved and/or disadvantaged population and their leaders as a basis for program or service development.

Swedish Hospital uses focus groups, surveys, patient satisfaction questionnaires, key informant interviews, and advisory boards to gather critical input from community residents and leaders to guide service design. For instance, in developing the 2019 CHNA, Swedish Hospital worked closely with the AHE and community based organizations that are members of the Swedish Hospital Community Leader Program to collect in-depth community input data through a community input survey and focus groups. We collected 763 surveys and conducted 8 focus groups with residents from the Swedish Hospital service area as well as 3 focus groups with healthcare and social service providers.

In addition, Swedish Hospital utilizes community advisory boards to inform program design and ensure alignment with community needs. For example, the hospital’s Violence Prevention Program coordinates a community working group comprised of representatives from local law enforcement, the State’s Attorney’s office, and Swedish Hospital providers and staff, as well as staff from program partners including the Salvation Army STOP-IT Program, Resilience, and the Cook County Task Force on Human Trafficking, as well as several domestic violence agencies, including Between Friends, KAN-WIN, Apna Ghar, and The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. This group meets about three times per year to review program outcomes and discuss challenges and plans for future development.

These examples demonstrate the commitment of Swedish Hospital to engage and gather input from underserved, high-need community members and partner organizations serving these populations to guide program design and implementation across the hospital.

  1. Describe specific partnerships with other providers and community-based organizations to promote continuity of health care for high risk/underserved and/or disadvantaged populations.

Swedish Hospital partners with a wealth of community-based organizations committed to serving some of the City’s highest-need, most vulnerable populations. The hospital works with a variety of organizations serving the diverse populations within Swedish Hospital’s service areas facing a variety of barriers to accessing health care. Swedish Hospital is proud to partner with more than 50 organizations throughout the community and is committed to improving the health and wellness of our neighbors through these collaborative relationships. Key onsite partners include Erie Family Health Center (an FQHC providing health service for those in need and serving as the clinical training site for Swedish hospital family medicine and internal medicine residency programs) and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois (an organization that provides mental health and substance abuse treatment via the Welcoming Center and Project Impact).

Central to the Community Breast Health Program is the hospital’s long-standing relationships with more than 15 community partner organizations serving diverse cultural groups that live in the neighborhoods surrounding Swedish Hospital, including federally qualified health centers, volunteer-staffed free health clinics, and organizations that provide a broad range of health and social services such as the HANA Center, Centro Romero, Vietnamese Association of Illinois, Chinese Mutual Aid Association, and others. Through these partnerships, Swedish Hospital is able to build upon the trusting relationships our community members have with these organizations to provide access to care that is compassionate, high-quality, and culturally-relevant. Collaborating agencies screen clients for program eligibility (i.e., ensuring that women referred for free screening and diagnostics are low-income and uninsured/ underinsured), refer eligible women to the program using a standardized program referral form, and work with Swedish Hospital breast health navigators to ensure the timely communication of testing results and follow-up care.

The Pathways Program (formerly called the Violence Prevention Program) works closely with partner agencies to inform assessment protocols, train staff and refer patients to available resources. The Pathways Program coordinates a community working group comprised of representatives from local law enforcement, the State’s Attorney’s office, and Swedish Hospital providers and staff, as well as staff from program partners including the Salvation Army STOP-IT Program, Resilience, and the Cook County Task Force on Human Trafficking, as well as several domestic violence agencies, including Between Friends, KAN-WIN, Apna Ghar, and The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. Swedish Hospital partners with the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT Program to provide assistance to human trafficking survivors as well as training for medical staff on response protocols when trafficking victims present to the hospital. Swedish Hospital has a long-standing relationship with Resilience to provide medical and legal advocacy in the emergency department for sexual assault survivors, as well as assist with policies and procedures related to working with sexual assault survivors. Swedish Hospital is also part of the Multi-Disciplinary Response Team (MDT) convened by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Sexual Assault Advisory Group. The Pathways Program also partners with four agencies working to address the needs of domestic violence survivors in the Swedish Hospital community. The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence works with the program related to their Medical Response Collaborative involving area hospitals. Swedish Hospital also partners with Apna Ghar (a domestic violence organization serving immigrants and refugees), KAN-WIN (a domestic violence organization primarily serving Asian Americans and recent immigrants), and Between Friends (a domestic violence organization in Rogers Park). These organizations work closely with the Pathways Director through participation in our work group, design of revised screening and response practices, training employees, collaboration with local police districts, and participating in Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities on the Swedish Hospital campus. The Pathways Program advocate also provides direct referrals to these organizations for patients in need of services related to their experience with domestic violence.

  1. Provide two examples of how you have used the community-oriented approach to program development specified in the attached principles to develop a program of service for high risk/underserved and/or disadvantaged populations specified in the guidelines. Include in each description components of the current program and the following quantitative information for the most recent year available:

Example 1: Care Transitions Program:

The Care Transitions Program is designed to follow a community-oriented, evidence-based approach to addressing the needs of Swedish Hospital’s most vulnerable populations. It delivers a spectrum of services, including disease management coaching, home visits, telephone follow-up, coordination of care, and, for those most at risk, home telehealth monitoring, for 1-3 months post-discharge. These services are intended to help patients take control of their health —increasing care compliance and patient motivation. The program’s unique multi-level, multidisciplinary approach fills a critical gap in care because it targets high risk patients returning home who are either uninsured or do not meet the strict Medicaid/Medicare eligibility criteria to receive home health services, and would therefore not have access to these services otherwise. Patients served by the program receive health education and services intended to empower them to make long-term, positive changes in their health and chronic disease management. These strategies are intended to improve patients’ quality of life and reduce hospital readmission rates.

Patients with chronic diseases are screened for readmission risk before discharge and those at high risk receive a referral to the program. Each patient in the program receives an intake assessment, program orientation, and matched with the service level best suited to his or her needs.  Basic Care Transition Services (four hours) include a home visit and three telephone calls in the month following discharge. Services focus on: post-discharge physician follow-up, medication regiment understanding and compliance, and CD self-management coaching. Patients requiring a higher level of care receive Advanced Care Transition Services (ACTS), which span three months and include, as needed, nutrition or diabetes interventions, daily home tele-monitoring, and coordination of care. Patients receiving ACTS receive 10 – 25 hours of service. Patients at highest risk for readmission also receive three home visits from the Wellness Coach, daily tele-monitoring (utilizing wireless equipment to collect patient health data), and care management. Currently patients experiencing malnutrition or identified as at-risk are referred to the program’s Dietitian, who makes three home visits as well as three follow-up telephone calls, focused on nutrition assessment and development of a customized nutrition plan, nutrition counseling tailored to the patient’s health literacy level, and monitoring of patient progress. Patients are also provided a 6-week supply of nutrition supplements. Patients with uncontrolled diabetes are referred to the Certified Diabetes Educators, who makes three home visits and three follow-up telephone calls, focused on helping patients understand the disease and its risks, and coaching patients to manage their diabetes through prescribed medication usage, regular blood sugar monitoring, diet, and other lifestyle changes. As needed, patients are provided glucometers, test strips and lancets for testing blood sugar levels.

Since the program’s inception, the program has served over 2,500 patients, and 30-day readmission rates for patients with CD have decreased significantly, from 27% to 10.5%. Furthermore, since the program’s inception in 2011, the overall 90-day readmission rate for CD patients has decreased 20 percentage points, from 35% to 15%.

1.         Number of clients served: 820 patients in FY2020

2.         Total amount budgeted by your organization for the program: $395,000

3.         Percent that program budget is of total agency budget: less than 1%

4.         Percent of program budget that is directly reimbursed by third party payers: 0%

5.         Percent of program budget that is covered by public/private grants: 11%

Example 2: The Pathways Program (formerly called The Violence Prevention Program):

As part of its Women’s Health Initiative, Swedish Hospital created the Pathways Program (formerly referred to as the Violence Prevention Program) in early 2015 to strengthen its capacity to identify and respond to women, men, and children who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. In a 2012 community health needs assessment of Swedish Hospital’s service area, 15% of women surveyed reported having been hit, slapped, pushed, kicked or hurt by an intimate partner in their lifetime. In focus groups conducted as part of the needs assessment, community residents and leaders noted that violence against women is under-reported, particularly in immigrant communities, due to stigma and fear of deportation. Swedish Hospital is in a unique position as a key “first responder” because of our local community ties. The role afforded our medical professionals allows them to see a woman alone and to become privy to highly sensitive information.

Since its inception, the program has built on a number of policies and resources that were already in place to guide medical staff and assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. These include a long-standing partnership with Lutheran Social Services of Illinois whose mental health and substance abuse crisis counselors are embedded in the emergency department 24 hours a day as part of Project IMPACT, and a partnership with Resilience that deploys advocates to assist victims of sexual assault in the emergency department. Since launching the program we have officially adopted a hospital protocol for identifying and responding to human trafficking. We have also formalized a relationship with the Salvation Army’s STOP-IT Program to provide staff training to identify and assist victims of human trafficking. Swedish Hospital is one of two hospitals that sit on the Steering Committee of the Cook County Task Force on Human Trafficking. Since the program’s inception, the Pathways Program has served more than 1,500 survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault.

Specific to domestic violence, the program has developed partnerships with The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence and three north-side domestic violence agencies identified as a good match for our patient demographics. These include Apna Ghar, serving immigrants and refugees from Asia, Africa and the Middle East; KAN-WIN, serving Korean and other South East Asian women; and Between Friends which offers services in English, Spanish, French and Arabic. All of these agencies offer free and confidential services to domestic violence victims including a crisis hotline, counseling and support services, court advocacy, prevention services, healthcare education, and community outreach. These agencies, together with our human trafficking and sexual assault community partners, collaborate with Swedish Hospital in a Work Group to design revised Swedish Hospital screening and response practices, train providers, and collaborate with local police districts.

The program utilizes a three-pronged approach to identify, assess and respond to violence:

  • Medical provider identification: Train medical providers to understand the complexity of violence, screen for and respond to patient disclosures of violence, and respond appropriately.
  • Patient assessment: Connect patients with on-site services to assess immediate needs, assist with safety planning and refer to additional community resources.
  • Referral to community based-organizations: Work closely with community partner agencies to connect patients with comprehensive, culturally-relevant resources.

1.         Number of clients served: In fiscal year 2020, the Pathways Program served 296 survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. The Pathways Program increased the hospital’s capacity to provide forensic services to sexual assault survivors substantially, increasing the number of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) from 3 to 8 over the course of the fiscal year. Additionally, the Pathways Program trained 371 medical providers and staff.

2.         Total amount budgeted by your organization for the program: $453,000 (FY20)

3.         Percent that program budget is of total agency budget: less than 1%

4.         Percent of program budget that is directly reimbursed by third party payers: 0%

5.         Percent of program budget that is covered by public/private grants: 85% (FY20)

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Donor Profile: Erin Doubleday


From the moment Erin Doubleday attended a community event focused on Swedish Hospital’s Violence Prevention Program (now Pathways) in 2019, she knew she wanted to support its mission.  As Erin explains, “When I heard about the woman brought into the Emergency Room who was being sex trafficked, that story stayed with me.  You’re not just helping the immediate neighbors, you are meeting the needs of everyone who walks through your door—you find a way to help”.  This event inspired Erin to become a generous donor to the Pathways Program, and in doing so, also become a member of the President’s Society.  The President’s Society is a special group of benefactors whose strong annual support helps us provide the safest, highest quality of care for our diverse community. This prestigious society was created to recognize the contributions of those who give $1,000 or more annually.

Erin, who is a Realtor with Century 21 Elm in Park Ridge, currently lives in Park Ridge with her husband Matt and three sons, but has deep roots in the neighborhood surrounding Swedish.   She grew up about a mile away from the Hospital, she and her family have used Swedish doctors for years and two of her sons were born at Swedish.  Years later, she is delighted to be reconnected with the Hospital through the Foundation and its array of innovative programming that’s making a difference in people’s lives. 

When asked why she and her family have been such loyal and enthusiastic supporters of the hospital’s programs over the years, Erin is quick to answer, “The roots of all your programs are so deep within the community, but you’re also available to assist anyone who needs it- it doesn’t matter if you live one block away or on the other side of the city- if you cross the Hospital’s threshold, you’re going to get help.  It makes my heart happy knowing that Swedish is changing lives for the better”.  To learn more about how you too can support any of our community-based programs, please visit the donation form, or call the Foundation office at 773-293-5121 or email,

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Translation Services Help Thousands during the COVID-19 Pandemic


A patient uses the real-time translation services during a medical visit.

Swedish Hospital is located in a culturally-diverse area that is home to immigrants and refugees from more than 60 nations.  In order to provide the best possible care to our patients and community members, we routinely provide real-time interpretive services in over 100 languages. As the COVID19 pandemic began to surge (from May through June), our need for interpretive services increased dramatically. Thanks to funding from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Response Fund, Swedish was able to quickly and effectively assist thousands of non-English speaking individuals across the Chicagoland area understand COVID-related needs, symptoms and treatment plans.

Specifically, funds were used to provide for in-person, phone and video-based interpretive services in over 46 languages for hospitalized patients with COVID-19, those coming to the COVID-19 testing tents, patients coming to the hospital for treatment services, or individuals calling in to the COVID-19 Help Line. Reflective of the diversity of our communities, a majority of callers to the helpline required assistance in Spanish and Korean, but we also received requests for translation in Arabic, Vietnamese, Assyrian, Urdu, and Rohingyan in addition to almost 20 more languages. Staff members answering the Help Line are able to seamlessly add a translator via phone or video conference to support a caller in real-time. Thanks to our real-time translation services, individuals from the community are able to convey their symptoms, questions and concerns via the COVID-19 Help Line and to staff in the testing tents

Additionally, Swedish Hospital created two, YouTube Public Service Announcement videos about symptom screening and testing in both Spanish and English. Click here to view the video in English or Spanish.     

We have also created printable COVID-19 resources and educational materials in 6 of the most popular languages spoken by our patients, including Spanish, Polish, Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese and Assyrian.  Links to all of these are available on our website.

Ensuring that a patient understands a diagnosis or treatment plan is essential for providing them with the best care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Translation services are essential, as illustrated with one of our COVID-positive patients.  Part of Swedish Hospital’s response to COVID-19 has been to provide pulse oximeters to discharged COVID-19 positive patients, so that they can monitor their blood oxygen levels and identify any issues that require additional medical care from the safety and comfort of their home. During the first week of June, our medical team discharged a stable COVID-19 patient and gave him a pulse oximeter to take home with him. However, this patient was Spanish speaking, and he did not fully understand the instructions for use of the device at discharge. By connecting this patient with translation services, Swedish was able to educate him on how to use the pulse oximeter to monitor his recovery. This tool allows us to best use hospital resources, while empowering our patients to watch for warning signs and seek medical attention when needed.

Thanks to initial funding from the Chicago Community COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund, and current funding from donors, Swedish is able to offer real-time translation services to our patients and community members in over 100 languages, ensuring that we provide best care to our patients. For more information on how you can help, please contact please visit the donation form, or call the Foundation office at 773-293-5121 or email,

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Violence Prevention Program Has a New Name


L to R:  Evelyn Torres, Pathways Advocate; Leena Thomas, Pathways Data Assistant; Kate Lawler, Pathways Director; Quinn Davis, Apna Ghar Counselor and Medical Advocate; and Susan Pieters, Between Friends Adult Education Coordinator.

The month of October marked Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time for reflection as we look back on the success of Swedish’s Violence Prevention Program and forge ahead to the future. Since its inception in 2015, Swedish Hospital’s Violence Prevention Program (VPP) has secured over 2 million dollars in grants and donations with which we have served over 1700 survivors of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual assault and trained over 2600 providers and staff to recognize and respond to these forms of harm. We remain grateful to the Swedish Hospital Foundation Board, for without their vision and commitment in providing the initial seed money to establish the program, these milestones would never be realized.

In these turbulent times of COVID-19, Kate Lawler, VPP Director, notes that the increased stresses of daily life have put people who are in unsafe relationships in greater risk. “Calls to domestic violence hotlines have increased sharply; the economic downturn, increased alcohol consumption and mental health concerns coupled with homeschooling children have compounded family stressors.” During the lockdown period from mid-March to late-June, fewer survivors came into the emergency room due to a fear of being infected.  However, those who did come showed indicators of escalated violence, such as head injuries and strangulation compared with the same period from last year–an increase of 113%. ”  The numbers of domestic violence and sexual assault cases in the emergency department started to increase again after the stay-at-home order ended.  Given the 5 years of successfully working with trauma survivors through the VPP program, staff are prepared for this moment and ready to assist survivors with support, resources, information, and the tools to make choices to ensure their safety.

As the program continues to evolve, the Violence Prevention Program has changed its name to more accurately reflect the support that we offer survivors of interpersonal violence. The new name is Pathways: Walking Beside Survivors of Domestic Violence, Human Trafficking, and Sexual Assault. Specifically, the program encompasses:

  • Pathways to training and education for medical providers and staff. 
  • Pathways to on-site crisis intervention and immediate safety planning.
  • Pathways to community partners for counseling, case management, legal advocacy, shelter and transitional housing
  • Pathways to care and forensic evidence collection by Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners.
  • Pathways to trauma-informed medical, dental and mental health services.
  • Pathways to prevention through education, awareness-raising and advocacy.
  • Pathways to healing and hope.

The name change is explained by Kate Lawler, who describes, that “We wanted to move away from a name that focuses on the harm that is done, and rather, place emphasis on the role that we have in shaping the road ahead.  Each person’s path moving forward is different and multi-faceted.  Our role is to provide information, options and support as survivors set out on the pathway or pathways that make most sense for them.”  The Pathways program is funded by grantor such as 5th/3rd, and the Department of Justice, foundations and the generosity of donors like you. To make a gift to Pathways, please contact please visit the donation form, or call the Foundation office at 773-293-5121 or email

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Food Access to Cancer Patients in Need


L to R: Syeda Farid, Cancer Center Nutritionist, and Katherine Williams, Cancer Nurse Navigator/Director of Survivorship Program

The COVID-19 crisis has been hard on everyone, but particularly for Swedish patients who are receiving treatment for cancer during this pandemic. These patients have unique restrictions and requirements that, are unfortunately, exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.  Many of our patients with weakened immune systems are now afraid to go to the grocery store and feel isolated and alone. Combined with job loss, reduced work hours and an overall limited income, many of our patients have confided in the Cancer Center staff that they are constantly stressed and worry about having enough money to buy groceries.

Thanks to funding from the National Breast Cancer Foundation and private donors, grocery gift cards have been provided to patients to purchase food items that are healthy, nutritious and items they would not normally have access to due to limited funds. According to Katherine Williams, Cancer Nurse Navigator/Director of Survivorship Program, these gift cards “…allow patients with limited food budgets to splurge-maybe by purchasing organic versus bottom-line produce or choosing a better cut of meat. For those who were laid off during COVID and find themselves in treatment, having a gift card literally means they can eat.”  She continues, “the grocery gift cards allow patients to make their own choices for food which appeals to them personally. Since every chemo treatment affects patients’ taste differently- what one person may crave or want is very different than another. The gift cards give them the power to purchase what they want, when they need it. Giving patients back their power is priceless.”

Syeda Farid, Clinical Dietitian/Nutritionist at the Cancer Center finds that many of her patients are grateful for the free grocery gift cards and surprised to find that they can positively change the trajectory of their treatment.  As Syeda explains, “With a gift card, a low-income patient can now purchase food that helps with their specific GI and nutritional needs without feeling guilty about taking away from the family’s food needs and limited resources. One patient even shared that she was able to buy organic meat and an avocado for the first time in her life.  Not only was this mother of 3 now provided the luxury of purchasing higher-quality meats, seafood and organic fruits and vegetables, but she tolerated her treatments better, missed fewer appointments and didn’t feel so tired and lacking in energy.

Another cancer patient, a single mother living with a sick relative expressed her gratitude for the grocery gift cards by saying, “ …that because of the Mariano’s gift card, I was able to get more energy by eating many small meals and healthy snacking.  Thanks to the free food,  I’m able to buy better  food for myself and now don’t have to worry about running out of money for food at the end-of-the month. That is when I usually have to depend on frozen or canned food. I don’t like eating canned food but I force myself because I have no choice. Thank you for providing me better options and better health.”

To many of our cancer patients, the grocery gift cards have been life-changing by providing them access to nutritious and healthy foods tailored to their specific needs. Syeda puts it in perspective when she notes that, “The gift cards have made a major impact on the physical and emotional health of our cancer patients. A $25 gift card seems like a small token, but for our patients, it can mean maintaining the nutritional support needed to continue their cancer treatment uninterrupted and giving them a chance to renew their overall health.”  If you would like to help support low-income cancer patients through this program, please contact please visit the donation form, or call the Foundation office at 773-293-5121 or email,

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