SCH’s Commitment to Trauma-Informed Care


When you hear the word “trauma” in reference to a hospital patient, you think of physical trauma- such as a broken bone, a deep wound or other serious injury. In reality, both physical AND emotional trauma are pervasive not only among SCH patients but staff as well.  Furthermore, exposure to both physical and/or emotional trauma can impact a person’s overall health for years to come.

Take for example, a bariatric patient with COPD who can trace her issues back to a lifetime of abuse; a nurse who was physically attacked by a patient, and 2 years later, still feels her heart race when she enters a room, or ED staff who care for victims of a horrific accident or crime.  Unlike a physical trauma, the impact of such emotional trauma events are more nuanced and may be harder to detect, but have a significant and lasting impact on patient health and staff wellbeing.

According to Kate Lawler, Director of SCH’s Violence Prevention Program, there is a growing awareness in the medical field that emotional trauma impacts the brain and body in ways previously unrecognized; emotional trauma is often at the root of numerous physical problems.  In an effort to understand and identify how distressing experiences change our bodies and impact our health, SCH recently joined 15 other hospitals in Chicago and the City’s Dept. of Health to create the Trauma-Informed Collaborative– an effort to identify and integrate the knowledge and impact of emotional trauma on health into the hospital’s policies, culture, and methods of care. By making our organization more sensitive to the impact that trauma has on the body and the brain, SCH believes that we can both improve patient health outcomes and better support our staff.

To this end, SCH is offering a series of educational training sessions for managers that focus on identifying and delivering trauma-informed care to patients and staff. As one of the first steps in the rollout of this initiative, these trainings are intended to increase staff awareness of these issues and identify next steps in becoming a truly trauma-informed hospital. With funding provided by the SCH Foundation, training will allow staff to understand and recognize symptoms of traumatic stress, identify ways to minimize staff burnout, and help identify resources for patients and staff that support both physical and emotional healing.

SCH is proud to be on the leading-edge of awareness and education in trauma-informed care. To learn more about the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, at, or contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121.

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Le Cirque Gala to benefit SCH Family Birthing Center


Circus-themed fun and revelry are in store for guests at SCH’s upcoming Le Cirque Annual Gala on October 27, 2018. Co-Chaired by Drs. Angel Rivera and Emily Rubenstein, this year’s event will be held in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. The gala will feature dining, entertainment sure to amaze, dancing, and a large silent auction with one-of a kind items benefitting SCH’s Family Birthing Center.

With over 2,000 babies born in the hospital’s Family Birthing Center every year, parents are drawn to the Center’s unique combination of home-like comforts, excellent medical care and supportive programming for every stage-from prenatal to postpartum.  Proceeds from this year’s gala will be used to enhance the physical space of the Family Birthing Center and provide innovative community programs and services.

The Family Birthing Center offers a wide-range of assistance for new and expectant parents. Community education classes range from prenatal topics and breastfeeding to parenting techniques. In addition, two of our most popular programs will expand and grow thanks to gala funds; The CenteringPregnancy group (where pregnant mothers learn from, and support one another in a group setting while receiving prenatal care and education from their healthcare providers) and the New Mom’s group (a weekly supportive space for new mothers to connect and share experiences). SCH also offers a variety of counseling services to new and expectant mothers who are experiences anxiety or post-partum depression, including one-on-one and group therapy sessions.  Gala proceeds will support these critical services in the coming year.

New to the Family Birthing Center this year is the Respite Nursery. The Respite Nursery is a safe, staffed space for newborn babies when new mothers need some rest. Maternal exhaustion can interfere with breastfeeding, is a risk factor for maternal post-partum depression and increases the risk of accidents like newborn falls. This monitored nursery is making a difference for new mothers and their babies.

Gala funds will also help support the only hospital-based, outpatient lactation clinic in the entire city of Chicago.  Swedish Covenant Hospital is proud to offer the Breastfeeding Clinic, which provides new mothers access to internationally board-certified lactation consultants and nurse practitioners who provide breastfeeding guidance and assistance during one-on-one, hour long visits.

This year’s gala promises to be the greatest show on Earth! Purchase tickets or visit our online auction at and bid on spectacular items and experiences to help support our Family Birthing Center. For more information on the gala or the auction contact Tamara Fouche’ at 773-878-2492.

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Event celebrates philanthropy at SCH


On May 22, more than 70 generous donors gathered at the Swedish American Museum in Andersonville, convening to celebrate their gifts in action. Last year, more than 20,000 lives were affected by the $1.56 million in donations to Swedish Covenant Hospital.

The luncheon was attended by members of both the President’s Society (those who give $1,000 or more annually) and Heritage Society (those who have named Swedish Covenant Hospital as a beneficiary in their estate plans or have made a life income gift). Attendees included hospital employees, community members, and local partners.

President and CEO Anthony Guaccio shared a moving presentation, capturing the use of a donor dollar with eloquence and emotion, expounding on testimonies of those impacted by the services provided by Swedish Covenant Hospital. One especially sobering narrative starred a woman escaping from an abusive situation with the help of the hospital’s Violence Prevention Program, a program made possible through generous philanthropy. Last year, 740 survivors of domestic violence were identified and assisted through this program.

Kimberly Leslie, emergency department clinical director, highlighted the Better Health Through Housing initiative. Swedish Covenant Hospital partnered with the Center for Housing and Health through the City of Chicago’s Better Health through Housing Program, which aims to provide permanent housing and services for patients who are homeless. The hospital provides social services for 10 chronically homeless individuals, including intensive case management and managed healthcare services. Featured on NBC Chicago, this program has already gained renown in the neighborhood and city.

Attendees were also gifted an exclusive sneak peek into upcoming projects of Swedish Covenant Hospital. Exciting changes are on the horizon, made possible through the philanthropy of generous donors.

For more information about giving societies, click here or contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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Grant funds onsite domestic violence support


When her husband went to get the car at the end of her hospital stay, a patient finally had a moment alone with her nurse. It was then that she revealed that her husband was abusive. Because of the small window of time the nurse had to act, she gave the patient contact information for advocacy services provided onsite at Swedish Covenant Hospital. The patient was able to schedule a follow-up appointment, where she was given a HopeLine phone (a pre-programmed phone to contact emergency services and support agencies) and was connected to counseling services.

Swedish Covenant Hospital’s partner agencies, Apna Ghar and Between Friends, provide onsite patient advocacy services for survivors of domestic violence. The program is being made possible with funding from the Michael Reese Health Trust. The program breaks down barriers that many survivors face through the referral process, including lack of follow up between referral and if/when the patient contacts a DV agency, lack of continuity between the provider and the referral agency, and the apprehension in having to disclose again.

“We are grateful for the support of the Michael Reese Health Trust, which has allowed us to expand our Violence Prevention Program with a comprehensive approach to responding to the needs of survivors of Domestic Violence,” said Kate Lawler, director of the Violence Prevention Program.

Staff from Apna Ghar and Between Friends are housed in Swedish Covenant Hospital’s Women’s Health Center twice per week to offer safety planning, referrals, and other services to survivors. In addition to office visits, the staff visits patients in the Emergency Department, on inpatient units, and provide universal education on the mother-baby unit. Since the program began, 22 survivors have received services through the program. In addition, partner agencies provide training for hospital staff to identify and respond to survivors of domestic violence.

To learn more about the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here, or contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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Frankels leave legacy gift in honor of care


Marlene and Jay Frankel found their medical home in Swedish Covenant Hospital. They greatly appreciated the kind nursing care they received and the expertise and responsiveness of physicians, according to Jacqueline Strzalka, unit manager of 4N. The Frankels are members of the Heritage Society at Swedish Covenant Hospital, a group of loyal donors who name the hospital as a beneficiary in their estate plans. When Marlene passed away earlier this year, she left the hospital a generous gift.

Jay transferred his care to Swedish Covenant Hospital in the early 2000s, and his experience at Swedish Covenant Hospital, specifically the cardiac rehabilitation program, helped him to more proactively manage his heart issues. Marlene was also a member of Galter LifeCenter and continued to use the fitness center after Jay’s passing in 2012. Jackie had the opportunity to build a relationship with the Frankels through caring for them over the years.

Jackie remembers their kindness and their gratitude for the care they received at Swedish Covenant Hospital. She recalls that they would call and send a birthday card to Jay’s cardiologist each year because they were so appreciative of his care.

“Their generosity continues their legacy of what was their life,” Jackie said. “This estate gift epitomizes the Frankels in that they are always thinking of others.”

Jay was a WWII Merchant Marine and Army veteran, and a freelance window trimmer. Jay passed away in 2012 at the age of 85 as a result of chronic health issues.

Marlene had a long career as a physical education teacher for Chicago Public Schools and enjoyed cycling, skiing, hiking and traveling the world. She passed away in early 2018 at the age of 85.

To learn more about planned giving at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here, or contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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