Donor Stories

The Integrative Cancer Care Program Provides Healing

 

Amy English knew that she had to do something for herself. With a husband, 2 small children, and a recent diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer, life was suddenly overwhelming.  When a friend and fellow cancer patient suggested she look into the Integrative Cancer Care Program (ICCP) at Swedish Covenant Health, Amy didn’t hesitate to become involved. “I realized I had to do something for myself that I could control and getting into programs and classes was something I could do for myself.”

The Integrative Cancer Care Program provides a personalized care plan to support patients through their journey. This can include support from a collaboration of people working with the patient such as social workers, chaplains, integrative health practitioners, integrative and functional medicine physiciansan acupuncturist, massage therapists and personal trainers. Provided free to patients through donations to the SCH Foundation, the ICCP connects people to services they need, making the process easier on a person’s emotional and physical well-being. 

Amy started with a personal trainer and Fundamental Fitness classes.  “The Fundamental Fitness classes provided me with the basics of staying healthy (nutrition, exercise and self-care), and allowed me to put my energies elsewhere; it got me out of the house, gave me an opportunity to meet new people, and actually motivated me to join more classes.”  Amy has since participated in watsu (a form of aqua therapy), which for her, provided a “very soothing and calming environment, where a lot of my tension was released and it felt wonderful to have a full body stretch.”

Amy is also a fan of Mindful Meditation, which helps guide and prepare her for difficult moments in life. According to Amy, “Mindful Meditation has taught me to pause and better assess any situation or thought and then choose how to and when to best handle it.”  One of the most impactful programs for Amy has been acupuncture. She goes to acupuncture because, “It helps with my pain and boosts my immune system.  Acupuncture is also very relaxing; it helps calm me and puts me in good spirits because I believe I am doing something good for my body. My acupuncturist is like a second therapist for me. She is genuinely concerned for my well-being and has helped guide me through some decisions and thoughts I sometimes struggle with. She is a great listener.”

The mental and physical toll of a cancer diagnosis and treatment can be exhausting and emotionally draining, but Amy feels that the ICCP has been a fantastic resource. “I have to learn how to live with this diagnosis and disease for the rest of my life, until there is a medical breakthrough. Being healthy with this is not just about my body, it’s about my mind, and this is what ICCP is giving me. ICCP is providing me a sense of control, enhancing my overall emotional and physical health and providing me a wonderful escape.”

To learn more about the ICCP, please visit the SCH web page. You can change a life by making a donation to the ICCP here or contacting the Foundation at 773-293-5121.

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Employee Donor Profile: Jessi Hickey

 

With dual degrees in Nursing and Social Work, Jessi Hickey left Nashville for Chicago in search of a career that would marry both disciplines. Once she accepted the position as an Orthopedic Navigator at Swedish Covenant Health, she knew she had found her home. Three and half years later, Jessi is still delighted to help her patients on their road to recovery and work alongside her fellow colleagues.  Asked to explain her role, Jessi notes, “I’m the travel agent for patients having a hip, knee or shoulder replacement. I assist them through their entire time here in the hospital and beyond. I meet with a patient pre-operatively and help them understand expectations of surgery. I then visit with them in the hospital to see how they are feeling and educate them about next steps, and finally, follow-up with them after discharge acting as their point person in case they have any concerns or questions.”

Jessi’s commitment to her patients is inspired by the warmth and friendliness she feels from the entire hospital community. To Jessi, the SCH staff is like a second family.  “I love working at Swedish; I really like my co-workers and supervisors, it feels like family. You know everyone walking the hallways- at least by face- and everyone is so welcoming. It’s a really good place to work.” It’s this compassion for her patients, community members and fellow co-workers that inspires Jessi to give back to SCH.

Over the years, Jessi has participated in the annual Employee Campaign, raised funds from running the Chicago Half Marathon as a member of Team SCH, and joined the SCH Foundation Associates’ Board.  Becoming a leader of Associates’ Board has had a significant impact on Jessi’s understanding of the Foundation, donor-funded programs, and the importance of giving back. She originally joined the Board as a way of meeting people when she first arrived from Nashville, but soon discovered that Board members play an important role as ambassadors and fundraisers for SCH.  Jessi explains, “I think being on the Board is a small way of giving back and contributing to some of the programs that I don’t have an actual hand in but that I can support with some fundraising. I love the homeless initiative (Housing Connections) and the Violence Prevention Program. Being able to raise awareness for these programs to people in the community and provide funds to help these programs is why I continue on the Associate’s Board.”  The Board is responsible for organizing and hosting several fundraising events throughout the year. The most recent event was a fun-filled, beer-tasting fundraiser at Bar on Buena, complete with food, libations and raffle prizes. Another event is planned for Spring 2020.

Jessi and her fellow Associate Board Members are looking to increase Board membership- especially among employees. As Jessi explains, “If you like where you work and you want to support your patients, it’s another way to get in involved. The Associate’s Board is a great a platform to advocate for your patients and your work area by creating awareness and fundraising”.  If you would like more information about joining the Associate’s Board, or making a donation to the Foundation, please contact the Foundation at Foundation@swedishcovenant.org or 773.293.5121.

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SCH Employees Give Back During 2019

 

Our employees feel passionately about giving to programs and departments that are close to their hearts, and that was demonstrated in their choice of donations to this year’s WeCare Employee Giving Campaign.  Over $53,000 was donated to ensure that the hospital maintain its healing mission and support the needs of our staff, patients and families. This year, the most popular choice was the Employee Benevolence fund, which provides assistance to fellow co-workers during times of financial hardship or crisis.  The Helping Hands fund, which provides low-income patients in the ED with access to prescription medications, came in second, and the Violence Prevention Program (VPP), which supports survivors of human trafficking, domestic violence and sexual assault, came in a strong third. 

New this year, donations helped create an additional feature in the Healing Garden for families who have experiences the loss of a child. Seed funding from employees for the newly-created Butterfly Garden allowed us to create a peaceful space of quiet reflection. The garden features a statue of a child holding a butterfly, a seating area for relaxation and contemplation, and a special area for the placement of remembrance stones. A special blessing ceremony to mark the dedication of this garden was held on October 8th and officiated by SCH Chaplain Melanie Tornquist.

We are grateful to all who has donated this year, especially the department with the highest participation rate —the Rehabilitation Administration Team!  When asked why she gives, Rehab Admin team member, Rosette Tejada, sums it up, “…to share my blessings.” An Honorable Mention for a strong showing goes to: 1) Women’s Health Center, 2) SCH Managed Care Support, 3) Nursing Education, and 4) Human Resources.  

Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to show your support of Swedish Covenant Health. Regardless of how you choose to give – whether by attending events, donating to the WeCareEmployee Giving Campaign, or the year-end appeal– your gift matters and we appreciate your support. To make a donation, Please download and complete the Employee Campaign Contribution Form and return to the SCH Foundation office, make an online donation or contact the Foundation at Foundation@swedishcovenant.org or 773.293.5121.

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Bequest Gift from Alyce Chrystall Supports Nurses

 

Alyce loved to help. Whether it was assisting on her Father’s cattle ranch or caring for her seven brothers and sisters, Alyce felt she was put on this Earth to serve others. It’s only natural then, that after her passing, Alyce is still making a difference in the lives of others. Thanks to the generosity of Alyce five SCH nurses working toward their advanced degrees have been awarded an Alyce B. Chrystall Scholarship to help defray their education costs.

As a little girl growing up on a large cattle ranch in Nebraska, Alyce was known as the caring one of the family; she would often tend to sick animals or help her parents care for her seven siblings. According to Karin, it was Alyce’s nurturing nature that prompted her older brother to pay for her to attend nursing school in Minnesota when she was only 18 years old.  Alone and determined, Alyce graduated from the Swedish Hospital School of Nursing with the dream of serving others and helping those in need.

Nursing was Alyce’s calling, which inspired her career and volunteer choices throughout her life.  Over her 40-year career, she practiced clinical and surgical nursing, worked as I.V. Therapist, an Industrial Nurse, and Personal Secretary, opened an Employee Health Clinic and worked for the Visiting Nurses Association. She retired from the nursing field at age 65, but stayed active by volunteering her time and energy to faith-based, service and social organizations well into her 80’s.

It was Alyce’s mission to serve and care for people.  Karin recounts that Alyce, “…was led by her faith and walked in in great humility and unconditional love for everyone she met. She found the good in all things.” As an act of her lasting generosity and compassion, Karin continued Alyce’s legacy of excellence in nursing and service by establishing the Alyce B. Chrystall Scholarship at Swedish Covenant Health. Karin was impressed with SCH’s active Nurse Alumnae Association and their strong commitment to nursing education scholarships, our continued support of staff professional development, and our affiliation with North Park University’s School of Nursing.  As Karin explains, “Nursing was the heart of Alyce; it defined her. Creating scholarships to help others become nurses was what Alyce would have wanted. I knew SCH  was the place.”

The 5 winners of the Alyce B. Chrystall Scholarship are: Colleen Jennings, OB Charge Nurse, Sommar Johnson, RN, BSN, CCRN , Dane Ligas, BSN, Bianca Pirvu, BSN and Gerelmaa Budmandakh, MSN

To the recipients of Alyce’s generosity, the scholarships are life-changing. According to Sommar Johnson, “This has changed my life and decreased my financial stress. Now I can focus more on school and work. I hope to one day give back and provide someone with the same opportunity I was given.” Colleen Jennings agrees. Feeling humbled and honored to be a recipient, she notes that “this scholarship will allow me to finish my BSN.  It has been a long process due to financial reasons and I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.  I hope to make Alyce Chrystall proud.” Karin awarded the scholarships during a ceremony in May, at which time she commented that it was Alyce’s wish to make a lasting impact on the nursing profession.  Her generous act of assisting five nurses obtain advanced degrees and certifications will better the healthcare of thousands of future patients. For more information on ways to support the scholarship program at SCH, please contact the Foundation at: foundation@SwedishCovenant.org or (773) 293-5121 

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Employee Giving: Eva Peroulas

 

For Eva Peroulas, assisting others is second nature. Working in labor and delivery for over 20 years at SCH, Eva has helped hundreds of new mothers and their families through good times and challenging situations. Eva has also been an enthusiastic supporter of Employee Giving for over 10 years. When asked why she gives, her generous spirit shines through, “It makes me happy to know that I can help others both in my professional and personal life. I admire and respect what the Foundation does for our patients and our community through the hospital’s programming.”

Eva sees first-hand, the impact of her donations on patients throughout the hospital. Last year, for example, her donation supported the Newborn Safe Sleep Initiative in the Family Birthing Center. As Eva explains, “I have witnessed the tears of a new mother who lost a daughter to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Because of the Foundation, we are now able to keep babies safe by providing safe sleep sacks to their mothers. Something so simple that can prevent tragedy yet something that not every new mother can afford to buy.”

With a similar desire to help her patients, Eva has also supported victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking through SCH’s Violence Prevention Program.  Knowing that domestic violence has become an enormous public health concern, and that 4-8% of all pregnant women are suffering domestic abuse during their pregnancy, Eva felt compelled to support the work of our staff to assist these survivors of abuse. This year, Eva’s donation is helping SCH enhance the Healing Garden with a proposed area for quiet reflection and mourning for new parents.

Eva demonstrates such a passionate commitment to her patients and the hospital’s mission, that she is a current member of the President’s Society for years. The President’s Society is comprised of donors whose annual support of $1,000 or more help us provide the safest, highest quality of care for our diverse community. Membership in the President’s Society offers special benefits including access to the latest hospital news, invitations to special events (such as the President Society Dinner on Sept 4, 2019) and the knowledge that you are providing hope and healing for all our patients regardless of their ability to pay.

There are a variety of ways in which to donate; from direct donations of cash or credit cards, to payroll deductions, and PTO hours.  For Eva, helping others is empowering; as she explains, “Having the power to improve the lives of others reinforces my own personal values and fulfills my moral duties and ethical beliefs.”  To learn more about making a donation or becoming a Present Society Member please contact foundation@swedishcovenant.org or (773) 293-5121

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