Heritage Society Member Profile: Melody Hansen


Nursing has shaped Melody Hansen’s life; she’s spent many years in a hospital setting and couldn’t be happier. Melody is not only a valued member of the Swedish Hospital Volunteer Team but also a member of our Heritage Society, thanks to a generous gift to Swedish in her estate plan. With her future gift Melody is helping to ensure that the hospital will continue to be a place of education and healing for the next generation.  

The call of nursing runs deep through Melody’s blood. Upon graduating high school, Melody immediately started nursing school at Ravenswood Hospital, where she found her life’s passion.  Upon graduation, she was hired as a staff nurse at Ravenswood Hospital and stayed for another 45 years, working in a variety of nursing and supervisory positions. “I love nursing,” Melody explains. “I was born at Ravenswood Hospital, went to nursing school there and would have stayed there the rest of my life if not for its closing in 2002.”

When Ravenswood Hospital closed, Melody really missed the patients and her life’s purpose.  She promptly accepted a position at Kindred Healthcare, where she worked as a Nurse Manager for another 7 years.  Melody retired from nursing in 2010, but couldn’t stop thinking about ways to help others and get back into the hospital setting.

Luckily for Swedish Hospital, Melody lives nearby. As Melody explains, “I retired in the winter and by summer I wanted to go back to the hospital, that was my life. Swedish was close to home and I was a member of the Covenant Church, so I felt a connection with the hospital.” In 2011, she began volunteering for Swedish and has become an important member of the Volunteer Department over the past 9 years. You can find Melody working every Monday in Wound Care, and every Thursday in the Education Department.

When asked what she enjoys most about volunteering at Swedish, Melody is quick to respond, “the staff are very appreciative for what you do, so it makes it very pleasant to work here. I understand how busy the medical and administrative staff are, so I know that anything I do for them is helping. I like to know that I’m making their day less stressful and their life a little easier and I enjoy getting up and having a purpose.”

Melody’s generosity to Swedish doesn’t end with her volunteer service. Melody is also a member of the Swedish Hospital Foundation Heritage Society, a group of loyal donors who name the hospital as a beneficiary in their estate plans. When asked why she plans on giving a gift for the future, Melody explains, “I am giving because I believe in the institution. I see what good things are being done and how committed the doctors and staff are to the patients. I also believe in the programs that the Foundation has supported and fostered. There is a family feel here at Swedish; it feels warm and inviting, and you don’t find that everywhere. I think that the programs you have created are compassionate and care about those less fortunate, and I want to see those continue.”

To learn more about the Heritage Society and planned giving, contact the Foundation team at (773) 293-5121, email us at:, or visit the planned giving website.

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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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