Monday, December 22, 2008

Santa Wears a Medical Coat?

Loyola University Health System makes Christmas a little brighter

MAYWOOD, Ill. - He's donned his red suit for photos in malls. Letters of wants and wishes are being addressed to him at the North Pole. He's the star of movies filling the airways, but for many families Santa won't make an appearance this year. There may not be a Miracle on 34th Street, but the Health System on First Avenue is helping make it a merrier Christmas in households around the Chicago area. Nearly every day Loyola University Health System physicians and staff make wishes come true with healing hands and compassionate hearts. But the giving doesn't stop there. The Loyola family is putting on Santa hats and bringing toys and cheer to those in need. This year charity truly is beginning at home. There are very few households that have not been impacted by these turbulent financial times and Loyola is not immune. Many Loyola employees are struggling to make the ends meet. In response Dr. Paul K. Whelton, president and CEO of Loyola University Health System, recently announced that the funds used for the annual employee Christmas party would be reallocated to a special relief fund to help employees in need. "In this time of heightened financial uncertainty, we believe it is in keeping with Loyola's culture and Catholic, Jesuit values to offer a helping hand to employees who might be especially hard pressed during the winter months," said Whelton.

Still, the voices of those in need reach far beyond the hospital walls. To keep Santa alive in the hearts of children the pediatric mobile clinic of the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center has collected toys for Chicago Public School children, K-3rd grade, in some of the area's most economically unstable neighborhoods. Dressed as Santa and his elves the mobile clinic team and a few additional volunteers distributed the toys and spread some Christmas joy right there at the school. "For most of the children we visit this is their Christmas," said Susan Finn, MSN, program director, Pediatric Mobile Health Unit. "Their faces light up when they see Santa and get that special gift." Many of the donated toys are collected by children from the Sacred Heart Catholic School in Melrose Park, Ill. "Here are these children whose families don't have much at all and still they want to give," said Finn. The mobile clinic not only brings these children toys at Christmas they provide medical care to children in underprivileged communities in the Chicago area throughout the year. "It's amazing being able to reach children and make an impact on their world. It's more than just their health, we want to impact their over all well being. Every day is a new adventure," said Finn. Loyola's Center for Health and Fitness also got into the giving spirit this year by becoming a Santa's workshop of sorts. Teaming up with the WGN-TV Toy Drive to benefit the Boys' and Girls' Clubs of Illinois. Fitness Center members, staff and friends of Loyola collected and donated over 400 unwrapped toys to the drive. "Everyone is having a hard time this year, but there are a lot of kids who would go without if we don't help. What a great feeling to know you are bringing kids joy," said Matt Cormack, Member Concierge Loyola Center for Health and Fitness. Other efforts included assisting patients who are struggling this holiday season and collecting items for the Loyola Children's Center at Maybrook which provides free childcare, health screenings and other services for children while their parents and guardians are in court.

About Loyola University Health System

Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is part of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. Loyola University Medical Center’s campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of Chicago’s Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. At the heart of the medical center campus is a 559-licensed-bed hospital that houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children's Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University Chicago Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 255-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.

Trinity Health is a national Catholic health system with an enduring legacy and a steadfast mission to be a transforming and healing presence within the communities we serve. Trinity is committed to being a people-centered health care system that enables better health, better care and lower costs. Trinity Health has 88 hospitals and hundreds of continuing care facilities, home care agencies and outpatient centers in 21 states and 119,000 employees.