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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Meet the Violence Prevention Program Team


The VPP Team: from left Sara Heidbreder (AG Counselor and Advocate), Abidemi Abioye (VPP Manager), Quinn Davis (AG Counselor and Advocate), Kate Lawler (VPP Director), and Theresa Gaudio (SANE Coordinator).  Not pictured, Kelsey West (Data Assistant).

Late one night, SCH Nurse Theresa Gaudio received a call asking her to come back to work in the ED. A woman had just arrived in ED and they feared that she had been sexually assaulted.  The ED staff asked Theresa to return to do a specialized examination that only certified and specially trained SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) can provide. After 6 hours, working through the night, Theresa arrived back to her home at about 3am, exhausted and emotionally drained.

Such is the committed work of a SANE and her colleagues in SCH’s Violence Prevention Program (VPP). Theresa and five other members of the VPP provide medical assistance, counseling, resources, guidance and comfort to survivors of domestic abuse, sexual assault and human trafficking whenever they are needed-day or night.

What began in 2014 as a request by the Illinois State’s attorney’s office and FBI to help fulfill an unmet need, SCH’s Violence Prevention Program has blossomed into a nationally-acclaimed program that is one of only eight in the nation to be awarded a prestigious, $950,000 federal grant through the Department of Justice’s Office of Victims of Crime to enhance hospital based victim services. Together, these six team members provide an invaluable service to the community by helping survivors of interpersonal violence. Let’s meet the members of the Violence Prevention Program:

Kate Lawler: Director of the VPP

Kate oversees the overall administration of the program, including supporting survivors, working with partner organizations, training and education, policy development, grants administration, data tracking and analysis, community outreach and representation of Swedish on several city-wide task forces. Kate has over 20 years’ experience working with women in health care settings, and non-profits, and has overseen the VPP since its inception, 5 years ago. Kate is grateful to be part of the VPP team. As Kate explains, “In previous jobs, I saw many situations of violence, especially against women and girls and felt that I didn’t have a way to make a systemic change. The VPP is different; with the support and resources of a healthcare system behind us, it is the perfect opportunity for us to support and provide options to survivors that can make a lasting change in their lives”.

Abidemi Abioye, Manager of the VPP

Born in Nigeria, Abidemi moved to the U.S when she was 12 years old and grew up in the Chicagoland area. Abedemi began working with survivors of domestic violence as a Facilitator for Apna Ghar and conducted research on public health issues at Center for Asian Health Equity with the University of Chicago. Abedemi joined the VPP team in early 2019, and feels that this is the perfect position for her; it combines her social work and public health experience, while allowing her the opportunity to interact with survivors. According to Abedemi, “In my role I can focus on the public health aspect, I can analyze data AND I connect with survivors. I really enjoy my job because even though it’s challenging, I feel that I’m helping people in crisis, and providing them with more choices for their future”.

Theresa Gaudio, SANE Coordinator

As an RN, Theresa has been working in the hospital setting for over 38 year —23 of them at SCH. She currently works in the Emergency Department as a SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Coordinator, where she ensures that the hospital is in compliance with the most up-to-date laws pertaining to SANE personnel, and that our SANE nurses are provided current educational opportunities. Theresa is committed to VPP because she believes this program saves lives. According to Theresa, “I just want to make sure that survivors get the best care. If we can give them the most helpful information and excellent medical care in the most caring way, then we can change one person around.  That’s why I’m doing this- I want to make a difference.”

Sarah Heidbreder, Apna Ghar Counselor and On-Site Medical Advocate 

Sarah works at Apna Ghar (a local, domestic violence agency) as a counselor during the week, but has office hours once a week at SCH, where she provides short and long-term counseling to any survivor referred to her from the VPP. When asked why she enjoys her role with VPP, Sarah quickly responds, “It’s very inspiring to work in such a collaborative and compassionate environment. To know that the hospital system is so invested in interpersonal violence makes me feel good. I know that I can really contribute to this program and help survivors.”

Quinn Davis, Apna Ghar Counselor and On-Site Medical Advocate

Like Sarah, Quinn also works primarily at Apna Ghar, but has weekly office hours at SCH, where she provides short and long-term counseling to survivors of the VPP.  Quinn is delighted to be working with the VPP, and refers to it as her “dream job”. Quinn goes on to explain, “I get choked up about it, for me, it is extremely meaningful. I get to help someone in a life changing way; I’ve had jobs were I didn’t feel that way. These are survivors that I have a lot of empathy for. It is very meaningful and I love it.”

Kelsey West, Data Assistant

Kelsey works to input, organize and track patient data for reporting and analysis.Kelsey enjoys being part of the VPP team because with her experience in the hospital setting and as a domestic violence advocate, she sees the program as a wonderful merging of the two. Kesley goes on to explain, “It’s an amazing program. The way that VPP team members are able to meet survivors at the hospital is the perfect place to start services, or just provide survivors a place that is safe to talk to a counselor.  I think this is why VPP is so unique.”

The passion and commitment of the VPP team resonates load and clear. Together, these individuals create a program that makes a differences not only for the survivor of interpersonal violence, but for each team member as well. To help the Violence Prevention Program continue making a difference, please contact the SCH Foundation at or 773.293.5121

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Annual Gala 2019 to Benefit Cardiology


Guests will be whisked away to far-off lands when they attend SCH’s upcoming Tropical Paradise, Annual Gala on October 26, 2019. Chaired by Drs. Frederman Concepcion and Rosibell Arcia-Diaz, this year’s event will be held at the Hilton Chicago. The gala will feature elegant dining, themed entertainment, dancing to tropical rhythms, and a large silent auction with one-of a kind items benefitting SCH Cardiology.

Our Cardiovascular Services team at Swedish Covenant is committed to providing each patient with comprehensive care. By coupling the most advanced technology with open communication between primary care physicians and a team of heart specialists to identify and treat a range of heart and vascular conditions, SCH physicians and medical staff work together to provide a continuum of care that ensures the best possible outcomes for our patients.

It’s important to have a team of doctors who really care about you, just ask Carlos Mendez.  Last year, Carlos experienced a slight pain in his chest while exercising. He went to see his SCH primary care physician who suggested he see a cardiologist. A stress test was performed, followed by an angiogram, and then quadruple bypass surgery. After surgery, he completed his recovery in the cardiac rehabilitation program at SCH’s Galter LifeCenter.  Carlos is now feeling great, back to work, doing the things he loves and spending time with his family.  According to Carlos, “There was an amazing team approach; my primary doctor was in constant contact with the cardiologist and surgeon and since Galter is part of SCH, all of my doctors knew exactly how my cardiac rehabilitation was progressing and made suggestions to the Rehab staff.” 

In order to continue providing the highest level of cardiovascular care, all proceeds from Swedish Covenant Health’s upcoming Annual Gala, Tropical Paradise, will benefit the Cardiology Department and its services. Thanks to our generous Elite sponsors of this year’s Gala; Title Sponsor, SCH Medical Staff, Platinum Sponsor, Medical Express Ambulance Service, and Diamond Sponsors, Continental Electrical Construction Company, Covenant Ministries of Benevolence, Covenant Trust Company, North Park University, and PNC.

Can’t attend the Gala? You can support the Cardiology Department by bidding on fabulous items in our silent auction. For more information on supporting the Cardiology Department please contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

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SCHNAA Reunion Attracts Record Turnout


In celebration of all our nurse alumnae, with a special honor to the 50th anniversary of the school’s last graduating class (1969), a lovely luncheon was held at nearby St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church and hosted by the SCH Foundation.  The Winona building, which is located adjacent to the church parking lot, was originally the nursing dormitory building.  Many of the nurse alumnae were delighted to finally enter the church after 50+ years, as most of them looked out at it daily from their dorm windows to view weddings and celebrations.

This final reunion was organized by the SCHNAA Board: Joan Bickner (’65), Sharon Eager (’63), Carol Olson (’61) and Susan Tanner (’68). Together, these women created an afternoon of friendship, fellowship, memories and entertainment. As Susan Tanner (’68) explains, “The Annual Luncheon has been an important event for our nurse alumnae. It marks a special time when we were young students; learning together, living together and sharing thousands of unique experiences and memories that could have only happened at Swedish Covenant Hospital.” Over 110 nurses and their spouses attended, creating one of those most well-attended reunions in recent memory and a wonderful send-off to the all-class annual gatherings.

During Nurse’s Week this past May, three nursing students were selected to receive the SCH Nurse Alumnae Association Scholarship Award. This year, SCHNAA Scholarships were presented to Kimberly Rosales, Olivia Mott and Aisha Abdallah.  In addition, the Virginia Ohlon Scholarship was awarded to Christina Venegas, a SCH nurse since 2012 and an MSN student. The scholarship was created by her fellow alumnae to honor her legacy of learning, teaching and caring.

To celebrate their 50th, the SCH nursing class of 1969, made a gift to Swedish Covenant, symbolizing their gratitude for the wonderful education they received and memories they shared.  They chose to support the hospital’s NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) carts initiative. These carts provide purposeful activities for elderly patients with cognitive impairments such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or delirium. The NICHE carts will greatly expand the choice of activities the nursing staff is able to offer patients, making it easier for them to care for this population.

We are grateful for the generosity of the nursing class of 1969 and our entire SCH Nursing Alumnae Association. Their dedication and commitment to the field nursing and service to others has been an inspiration, and their generosity through class gifts, scholarships and legacy gifts has changed lives of future nurses and patients for years to come. To view photos from the 2019 Reunion, please click here.

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Sara-Stedy Devices Help Patients with Mobility Issues


It looks like a combination between a chair and a walker, but it does so much more! Thanks to an idea from Director of Nursing, Sarah Stadler, and funding from the Swedish Covenant Hospital Foundation, these Sara-Stedy devices are helping SCH patients with limited mobility move easily and independently from a standing to a seated position, and reducing the risk of falls.

The ability to rise from a chair or bed is one of the most fundamental movements of daily life, occurring multiple times throughout the day. If a patient is unsteady or is difficult to assist, attempting to transfer them from bed to chair or toilet without the right equipment can put both patient and caregiver at risk of serious injury. The Sara-Stedy ensures that sit-to-stand transfers can be carried out safely, quickly and with ease for both patient and staff. In addition, by allowing patients to use their own strength to move, the Sara-Stedy not only improves the patient’s circulation, breathing, digestion and muscle tone, but it also enhances their activity level and provides them with an active role in their own recovery.

Six, Sara-Stedy devices have been purchased and are now being used throughout the hospital. Patients and medical staff agree, the Sara-Stedy has been life-changing. According to Jacqueline Strzalka, unit manager of 4N, “Even patients who don’t have the strength to take steps on their own can stand using this device, which allows the patient to feel more independent and enables the staff to mobilize the patients more quickly and safely.

Although small in size, the Sara-Stedy has also made a big impact on our patients. As one patient recounted to his caregiver, “…using the device allowed me to take a shower for the first time in two weeks! The Sara-Stedy made me feel in control.”

The Foundation is delighted to support these initiatives, and with your donations, we can continue providing innovative equipment and programming to improve the health and welfare of our patients and staff.  To learn more about supporting patient care initiatives at Swedish Covenant Hospital, contact the Foundation at or 773-293-5121.

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