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$3 Million McCormick Foundation Gift

Promoting Civic Health

A $3 million gift from Chicago’s venerable McCormick Foundation will help fund a new program within Loyola University Hospital’s Emergency Medical Services Department — the McCormick Foundation Care-Accelerated Program.

Each year, physicians and nurses in Loyola’s Emergency Department treat more than 53,000 patients. The number of U.S. citizens ages 65 and older is projected to nearly double by 2030, with a concomitant rise in patients suffering from conditions such as coronary heart disease, acute infections (sepsis), stroke and other vascular and neurological emergencies that require rapid response. The McCormick Foundation gift will help ensure Loyola can meet that need.

Plans to renovate the existing space to create the Care-Accelerated Program area have been created by a design team specializing in emergency medical-care delivery, based on industry best practices and significant staff input. “We’re an academic medical center, committed to our role in creating leading-edge initiatives to optimize patient care. This gift is critical in helping us do that,” said Mark E. Cichon, DO, FACEP/FACOEP, director, Emergency Medical Services and assistant professor, Department of Surgery, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Based on the principles of Loyola’s successful 24/7 Heart Attack Rapid-Response Team (HAART) initiative, the Care-Accelerated Program will deploy leading-edge imaging equipment, communication access, care protocols, evolving technologies, pharmaceutical support and expert personnel to streamline care for patients with symptoms requiring rapid diagnosis and treatment. Patients will be cared for within a space uniquely designed to expedite treatment, improve survival rates and maximize comfort and safety.

Among the infrastructure changes: redesign of the floor plan to improve patient flow and visitor comfort; addition of rooms for family/medical staff consultation to facilitate communication; new wiring to allow digital treatment documentation at every point of care; installation of sliding doors separating patient treatment areas to increase patient privacy and positively affect air flow issues, improving safety; and the application of ergonomic design principles to help reduce staff strain and fatigue.

“Our mission is to help improve the civic health of Chicagoland, including the physical health of people in our communities,” said David D. Hiller, president and CEO of the McCormick Foundation. “The path-breaking work in the new accelerated care program will help improve the speed and accuracy of treatment for the region’s most critically ill and injured.”

The McCormick Foundation, established by Col. Robert R. McCormick, long-time Chicago Tribune editor and publisher, made the $3 million gift through its Special Initiatives program. The program supports partnerships with civic, cultural, educational, health and social-service institutions that share its commitment to engaging with others in service to community. Together with a $500,000 gift from Jim and Sally Dowdle that helped establish the HAART initiative and a $2.5 million gift from the John L. Keeley Jr. family to fund Emergency Medical Services Department renovations, this gift will help create the best experience possible for patients and their families at a stressful time.

For more information about how to support Loyola University Health System or Emergency Medical Services, contact the Office of Development at or call (708) 216-3201.

Michael and Kay Birck

Working Hard, Giving Generously

Michael and Kay Birck make their philanthropic decisions in the same way they’ve lived their lives: as a team. One of the latest of those decisions is to support stroke-related programs at Loyola University Health System (LUHS) through a $1 million gift. In recognition of their generosity, LUHS has named the Michael and Katherine Birck Rehabilitation Unit, located at the Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge, in their honor. “You get to know people at places and understand that there are legitimate needs,” said Mr. Birck. “We talk about it and over time come to a conclusion that is a joint one,” added Mrs. Birck. “We are both drawn to the same things, for the most part.”

That includes being drawn to one another — they met at a dance where they both came with other dates. Mr. Birck’s sister, a classmate of the future Mrs. Birck at St. Anthony’s Hospital School of Nursing (now part of Indiana State University), introduced them that evening. Following their graduations three and a half years later, they were married. “Our honeymoon was a drive to New Jersey,” quips Mr. Birck, recalling that his first job as a newly minted engineer out of Purdue University’s School of Electrical and Computer Engineering was to take a job at Bell Labs there. Mrs. Birck found a nursing job.

For two young people who might never have expected to graduate from college, it was, in retrospect, an auspicious beginning. Mrs. Birck, whose mother died when she was just 5, was raised by great aunts who both worked in a Clabber Girl baking soda factory in Terre Haute, Ind. By working herself, and with the assistance of scholarships, she completed her nursing degree. Mr. Birck, one of five children of a U.S. postal carrier, also worked his way through college—substituting for his dad on the mail route, working in the Purdue cafeteria, at a Dog ’n Suds, and, in the summer, for Indiana Bell. His just-out-of-college position in the telecommunications field would be the first in a series of jobs and training (he also completed a master’s degree in electrical engineering through New York University) that ultimately led him to found, with five others, Tellabs, Inc. in Naperville, Ill. He is now the chairman of the board of this multibillion dollar world-wide corporation whose equipment is used in most telephone calls and Internet sessions in the U.S.

But it didn’t get there overnight. The Bircks recall that when Tellabs was a fledgling company, they sat their three children (then 14, 13, and 10) down and, “told them how life was going to be on no salary for a year—lots of hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner.” Mrs. Birck, along with the wives of the five other principals at Tellabs, went back to work. Mr. Birck, if he wasn’t at one of their children’s baseball games, typically worked seen days a week until 8 or 9 p.m., stopping for dinner when one of the wives brought it in. Aside from hard work and sacrifice, what does it take to create a company that is a leading communications carrier in more the 80 countries worldwide? “I have some business acumen,” Mr. Birck affirms, but adds quickly “you have to know you  stuff. I’m an engineer by training and inclination. I like to see how things behave under certain conditions and designed most of our early products.” He waxes eloquent about the “echo canceller,” their first big product, as well as the Titan, a highspeed, digital, cross-connect system that is still sold 22 years after it was introduced. “Engineering teaches you to think: it is too deep a subject to learn everything by rote,” he says—but perhaps more important to his business success was, “knowing how to get along with people, whether customers or employees. And a big part of that is fairness. If you’re not going to pay people, as we couldn’t at the start, you’ve got to treat them right, give them the opportunity to present their goals and aspirations.”

With success has come the opportunity to expand that idea into philanthropy. Perhaps it isn’t surprising, for an engineer and a nurse, that supporting research and addressing people’s educational and health-care needs has been the focus of the Bircks’ philanthropic work for some time now, particularly through Catholic institutions.

In addition to their most recent gift in support of stroke care, the Bircks have also supported cancer research at the Loyola University Health System through a $2 million gift to the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. “Mr. and Mrs. Birck’s generosity to the health system over the years has always been very forward-thinking and this gift shows the same commitment to supporting innovation in patient care,” said Tony Englert, vice president, Development & External Affairs. The Loyola Center for Health at Burr Ridge project attracted them especially for its focus on compassionate design. Mrs. Birck, a stroke survivor who spent a lot of time in rehabilitation, knows well the importance of thoughtful care and tranquil surroundings in the healing process. The innovative care model at Burr Ridge reduces waiting times, emphasizes accessibility, and makes it possible to see a physician, have a test, and work with a physical therapist in one visit in a light-filled, serene space. It is, says Mr. Birck, a continuation of the health system’s commitment to “also treat the human spirit.”

For information on supporting innovative health care and research at Loyola University Health System, please contact the Office of Development & External Affairs, at or (708) 216-3201

Considine Atrium provides warm welcome to Loyola patients

Loyola University Health System would like to express its deepest gratitude to Frank Considine, past chairman of the LUHS Board, and his wife, Nancy Considine, for their selfless generosity, which led to the construction of Loyola's Atruim. The previous entrance was crowded and hard to find. The Frank W. and Nancy S. Considine Atrium is airy, bright and inviting. Children are often seen by the fountain, fascinated by the cascading water. Patients entering the main lobby of the hospital are greeted by concierges at the information desk and valets are quick to bring their cars to the front. For more information about how you can help Loyola provide an ever greater level of service, please call (708) 216-3201 or visit

Christl Burgess Memorial Endowment

A Family’s Loss Motivates Generous Gift

The journey for one German lady from a post-World War II Russian internment camp to Geneva, Ill., was a long one. But Christl Weis Burgess made that eventful journey, touching many along the way with her grace, charm and indomitable spirit. Jack, her husband for 51 years, recently created the Christl Burgess Memorial Endowment Fund for Early Detection, Treatment and Research of Ovarian Cancer to honor his late wife.

A woman who ate right, didn’t drink or smoke, swam and walked almost daily, Christl Burgess was in good health and was the last person her family expected to have to confront cancer. Together with them, however, she battled the disease for more than seven years, through remission and recurrence.

“She was a fighter” said Ronald Potkul, MD, who managed Christl’s care, “but she was always smiling and appreciated everything people did for her.”

“The support she got helped her deal with her disease,” added Kathleen Bettis, RN, nurse coordinator, who came to know Christl well. Through it all, her family said, she never thought of herself as a victim. She often expressed concern for those younger than she undergoing chemotherapy and even said to her children during her own, “I’m glad it is me, not you.”

“We found the right place,” Mitzi Burgess Weiss said of their eventual choice to seek treatment for her mother at Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center (CBCC) under Dr. Potkul’s guidance. “With cancer, you need to be at a place like Loyola, where all the resources are first-rate,” added Jack. And son Tom noted “We all become soldiers when going through this. What you need is information.” Each expressed gratitude that Christl was given the chance to participate in a clinical trial of a cancer vaccine at the CBCC, and they are interested in seeing the new endowment used to promote earlier detection and advance vaccine studies. “Ovarian cancer hides very well from the immune system,” said Dr. Potkul, “so while we can often get it into remission, currently there’s a 75 percent recurrence rate. That is where a vaccine comes into use and where more research is needed.”

Christl was a woman of strong faith who loved people, gardening and her many pets. A photographer by profession, she left the family with a lifetime of pictures. She and Jack lived for more than 50 years in the same house in Geneva, the town where he had grown up. For many of those years, she and the children sold Christmas trees grown at their Wisconsin farm from their front yard, and Jack worked as plant engineer at Burgess-Norton (BN), the business his grandfather had started in 1903. It was Jack’s family business, in some ways, that had brought the couple together.

BN, as it is known today, is still the world’s largest supplier of piston pins for the truck, tractor and heavy equipment industry. When a steel strike in 1959 forced the company to look for this critical material abroad, Jack went to Europe in search of it. While there, he took the opportunity to look up “a young fräulein” he had met at a camera store in 1953 when stationed in Munich with the U.S. Army. At that point, memories of the war and their years in interment camps before being displaced to Germany were painfully fresh and Christl’s father wouldn’t let her date anyone in uniform. But after six years, he relented. At dinner under a chestnut tree, Jack recalled, “I asked her if she’d marry me if I returned by Easter. She said ‘yes’ and we were married in Fraunau in 1960.”

For Jack and his children, wonderful memories help fuel their determination to help others find ways to fight the disease that claimed Christl’s life. It’s a battle she herself led, telling Dr. Potkul at the start of her vaccine trial “My body’s yours—do whatever you need to do to find out how to help other people with this disease.”

For more information about supporting critical research projects at Loyola, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

William Cannon, MD

Motivated to Do More

As long as William Cannon, MD (’88), can remember, becoming a physician has always been his life’s calling. When deciding which medical school to attend, he originally planned to apply to programs that, at the time, had more name recognition than Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Stritch). However, he realized that Stritch was the right choice for him. “There was a sense of family and an atmosphere of warmth, spirituality, professionalism and personal responsibility,” recalls Dr. Cannon of his first impressions of Stritch.

The characteristics Dr. Cannon describes above could be applied to him as well. He has spent his medical career at Loyola University Health System (Loyola) caring for patients, educating medical students and taking on leadership roles that help define medicine at Loyola. After earning his medical degree from Stritch, he completed his residency in internal medicine and general pediatrics at Loyola University Medical Center. He served as medical director of primary care and managed care and vice chief of staff of Loyola University Hospital. Most recently, he was appointed chief of staff. At Stritch, he serves as assistant professor of general internal medicine and general pediatrics, and chairs the Financial Aid Committee.

The values Dr. Cannon learned from his family and Loyola’s Jesuit Catholic philosophy continue to motivate him to “to do more.” He regularly contributes to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence Fund to help offset the enormous debt students incur as a result of rising tuition costs. “Because of this burden,” he said, “these talented physicians are unable to share their altruism for the next decade, which is very problematic.” Dr. Cannon recognizes that the combined support of all Stritch alumni, faculty and friends could make the critical difference for these students.

As chief of staff, Dr. Cannon’s vision is to maintain the quality of care and smooth operations of the medical and dental staff. As medicine changes at a rapid pace, the future lies on health-care providers working in teams versus individuals. He noted that the medical center expansion project is part of the response to that change. “The physical building was designed to encourage that teamwork, much like the Loyola Outpatient Center. We are being proactive in our approach to patient care.”

Dr. Cannon is proud of the changes he has witnessed and been a part of during his 20 years at Loyola. “It has been fascinating to see Loyola from many different angles. As a medical student, resident, faculty member, primary caregiver and as chief of staff, I have been privileged to meet many outstanding and truly committed people in every area.”

When asked about the challenges facing health care, Dr. Cannon replied, “Medicine changes every day. It’s sometimes frustrating, painful and tragic. The way we choose to deal with those changes is often the most difficult yet rewarding part. The good news is these experiences help us grow to become better people, doctors, teachers, husbands, wives and parents.”

For more information on the Dean’s Fund for Excellence, contact Shawn Vogen, assistant dean, Office of Development, Stritch School of Medicine, at (708) 216-5642.

The Comfort Care Project

It’s a beautiful thing when a good idea snowballs into a great one. In 2009, two girls who needed a project to fulfill the service requirement in preparation for the sacrament of Confirmation agreed to make and donate fleece blankets to hospitalized patients at Loyola University Medical Center. Inspired by the passage from Matthew’s Gospel, “When I was ill, you comforted me,” the idea had been germinated among the hospital’s pastoral care staff, who saw an opportunity to fulfill Loyola’s promise to “treat the human spirit” for patients and families in difficult situations.

The blanket-making program continues to grow and now has the name Comfort Care Project. Joanne Kusy, secretary in the pastoral care office, has been an enthusiastic blanket maker since the beginning, having made more than 750 herself. The blankets, she believes, provide that “something extra” to show patients how much the Loyola staff cares for them. And the crafting process helps keep her connected to them. “I always buy uplifting, happy, bright fabrics,” she said, “and when I make blankets it calms me.”

Other Loyola staff members have become dedicated Comfort Care Project volunteers, including nurses from several units as well as staff from the hospital’s clinical lab, who produced 165 blankets in 2010 by cutting and knotting over the lunch hour. And chaplains have found that there’s blanket-making interest among patients who are hospitalized for extended stays, such as women with high-risk pregnancies who are on total bed rest.

Personal responses and heartfelt notes are clear signs that patients are deeply moved by the gesture of receiving a blanket. Recipients often are surprised to hear that the blanket is not just a blanket, either. As they’re cut and knotted, many of the volunteers who make them pray quietly for the patients who will receive them. These blanket crafters include congregants of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Elmhurst, the sisters of the Wheaton Franciscan order, Girl Scout troops, and students from area Catholic high schools. And the prayers can go the other way too. A recent widow hospitalized after a car accident told chaplain Fran Glowinski, OSF, “I pray my rosary on the knots, but there are only 48…”

Loyola’s 10 full-time chaplains, who staff the hospital 24/7, see patients in some of the most challenging and stressful health situations imaginable. Chaplain Robert Andorka values the chance to give patients a blanket at these times because it is one of the ways that he and his colleagues can be “the eyes and the hands and the voice of God” with people in search of healing. The Comfort Care Project would like to expand the number of blankets available for distribution, and the team eagerly welcomes volunteers and donations to support the project. In the meantime, Ms. Kusy will be among its most ardent supporters: “I will do this until the project ends, and I hope it never does,” she said.

If you would like to make a gift for the purchase of blanket-making materials or volunteer your time to make blankets, please contact Eva Moss at or by phone at (708) 216-8249

James and Sally Dowdle

Gift Helps Launch Cardiac Distress Initiative

A person in cardiac arrest has the greatest chance of total recovery if he/she undergoes angioplasty within 90 minutes of arriving at the hospital, according to a task force of the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

Cardiac patients arriving at the Loyola University Health System (Loyola) Emergency Department will receive angioplasty well within the recommended 90 minute window thanks to a $500,000 gift from Jim and Sally Dowdle to help fund the Heart Attack Rapid Response Team (HARRT) Initiative. The HARRT Initiative staffs a team of cardiologists, nurses and technicians in the Emergency Department 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The department’s efforts to reduce the time patients wait before they receive treatment starts even before they arrive in the hospital. Emergency medical technicians and paramedics in ambulances with EKG machines will attach patients to the machines to get a head start on the diagnosis. “Since many of our patients arrive in ambulances after an average ride of six to seven minutes, we decided it would be most efficient to use that time for diagnostics,” said Mark Cichon, DO, director of Emergency Medical Services.

If an EKG performed in the ambulance or hospital confirms a heart attack, the patient will be wheeled immediately to the cardiac catherization lab, where an interventional cardiologist will thread a catheter from an artery in the groin to the heart. The cardiologist then inflates a balloon at the tip of the catheter to open the artery and, in many cases, places a stent to keep the artery open.

“Time is heart muscle,” said David Wilber, MD, director of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Cardiovascular Institute. “The sooner we open up the artery, the better.”

In instituting the HAART initiative, Loyola University Medical Center has become the first hospital in the western suburbs to take an aggressive pro-active position in advancing immediate care to patients in cardiac distress. Most hospitals do not have cardiac specialists on site during nights and weekends, meaning that precious time is lost when the team has to be called in from home.

Fortunately for 56-year-old Joyce Moss, of Berwyn, little time was lost when she arrived at Loyola last November in the midst of a heart attack. Ms. Moss was on her way to work as a school bus driver when she experienced a tightening in her chest, nausea, numbness in one arm and profuse sweating. Recognizing the signs of a heart attack, she took a detour from her job and headed to First Avenue. “I’m a longtime patient of Loyola and I knew if I could get there I’d be fine,” she said. She had gotten as far as 31st Street and First Avenue when she had to call 9-1-1. She was transported to Loyola and underwent an angioplasty within 42 minutes. “The nurses and doctors were all waiting for me and everything happened expediently,” she recalled. “I’m undergoing therapy now. I feel great and am able to enjoy my six children and 11 grandchildren.”

Learn about opportunities to support cardiac care at Loyola University Health System by contacting the Office of Development & External Affairs at or (708) 216-3201.

The Jack Felts Hepatology Patient Fund Golf Outing

Dr. Scott Cotler, director of Loyola's new Division of Hepatology, talks about how his former patient Jack Felts truly loved life. His wife, Theresa, bravely would visit friends in her husband's ward after he passed away to encourage them during their time of need. The selfless giving of Theresa and her family is what the Jack Felts fund is all about. Jack made a difference in the lives of people around him and he continues to make a difference in people's lives. The fund that his family started provides Peoria patients with a room at the Carleton of Oak Park during their treatment and office visits. Loyola would like to express its gratitude to Theresa, the rest of Jack's family and everyone who participates in the Jack Felts Hepatology Patient Fund Golf Outing, which was held on Saturday, Sept. 8., 2012. To support the fund, please call (708) 216-3201.

Gottlieb Memorial Foundation

Advancing Care for Cardiac Patients

The recent dedication and blessing of a new state-of-the art cardiovascular unit at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, IL has created 21 private patient rooms from former office space on Gottlieb’s sixth floor. The new unit provides advanced care features for heart patients recovering from coronary bypass operations, angioplasty and stent surgeries and those being treated for congestive heart failure and arrhythmia.

The renovation was made possible through a generous $4 million gift from the Gottlieb Memorial Foundation, created at the time of the Loyola affiliation in 2008. Jack Weinberg, chairman of the foundation, shared the ribbon-cutting scissors while dedicating the facility with Trisha Cassidy, president, Gottlieb Memorial Hospital and senior vice president of strategy, Loyola University Health System (LUHS), and Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, president and CEO, LUHS. Among those joining the festivities were members of the LUHS Board; the Gottlieb Foundation Board; physicians; nurses and local officials.

Mr. Weinberg noted in his remarks at the dedication that “What we’re doing here is ministering to our fellow man. This gift is a step in the process of continuing the excellence in health care that Gottlieb and Loyola have always striven for.” Mr. Weinberg’s grandfather, David Gottlieb, founded the community hospital with his wife, Dorothy, in 1959 with profits from his company, D. Gottlieb & Co. pinball manufacturers.

The extended Gottlieb family has been involved in the hospital’s welfare from its earliest days. In fact, according to Mr. Weinberg, the responsibility of looking out for the hospital’s good was engrained in family members from the very beginning. He attributes the strength of the commitment in large part to his grandparents — both were passionate about the hospital. His grandmother (who had wanted to be a nurse) was, he believes, the force behind the idea while his grandfather, the quintessential entrepreneur, went all the way with an idea once it was conceived. Mr. Weinberg’s mother, Marjorie, daughter of the founders, was committed to the hospital’s Auxiliary, worked in the gift shop and was a key figure in the construction of the cancer center which now bears her name. His father, who ran the family business for many years, was instrumental in securing land for the hospital to grow, creating a much larger campus than anyone had envisioned in the early days.

When LUHS and Gottlieb agreed to affiliate, one of the major goals was to position Gottlieb as a hospital offering the expertise available at an academic medical center while maintaining the convenience and caring environment of the community hospital. As part of the affiliation, Loyola physicians are practicing at Gottlieb and offer services including: orthopaedic joint-replacement surgeries; OB services; physical medicine and rehabilitation; plastic surgery; and cancer care. “This generous gift builds on the vision and true philanthropy of the Gottlieb family,” said Ms. Cassidy. “Mr. Weinberg, through his role within the Foundation, continues to provide a Gottlieb family legacy at this hospital, bringing the past and the future together.”

For more information on supporting Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, part of the Loyola University Health System, contact The Office of Development at or (708) 216-3201.

Peter and Heidi Huizenga

Patient Gift Will Create New Nursing Position for Cancer Center

A generous donation will provide a helping hand — literally — to a busy cancer specialist at Loyola University Health System's (Loyola) Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Peter and Heidi Huizenga’s $500,000 gift will fund a clinical oncology and translational research nurse to assist with patient care and cancer research. A portion of the Oak Brook couple’s funding also will be used toward cancer research conducted by Kathy Albain, MD.

As a breast cancer survivor and patient of Dr. Albain, Mrs. Huizenga has seen first hand all the physician involvement that goes into complete patient care at Loyola. Her work with the cancer center's Visiting Committee, and many of the center’s activities, also have helped her realize the financial limitations that prevent hiring a staff member to manage the daily administrative, research and patient-care activities.

The new nurse will assist Dr. Albain and other medical oncologists at the CBCC as they enroll and follow their patients on cancer clinical trials. Some of the nurse’s responsibilities will include: providing chemotherapy training for patients, conducting phone checks on patients who have a change in regimen or major medications, monitoring physician action plans for each patient visit and overseeing tasks for post-clinic patient care.

The nurse also will attend clinical research program and continuing medical education meetings, assist in conducting in-house translational projects, track participants on clinical trials and monitor the status of new research proposals.

“The nurse will work hand-in-glove with me to enhance both day-to-day breast and lung cancer patient care and research endeavors,” said Dr. Albain.

The Huizengas are pleased to augment care at a cancer center that is already renowned for providing the latest in technology without neglecting the personal and spiritual needs of patients. “At some of the larger health-care institutions the personal aspect of patient care sometimes gets lost, but you can feel the personal care at Loyola,” Mr. Huizenga said. “Loyola is a wonderful hospital that provides excellent patient care, and we support it because we want that excellence to continue.”

By providing assistance with administrative tasks and patient care, the new nurse position will allow Dr. Albain to devote more time to research. “She does wonderful work, and we would like our gift to give her the tools she needs to further her practice,” said Mrs. Huizenga.

Dr. Albain is touched that a patient would make a donation to help existing cancer patients receive personalized care and fund research that could provide new treatments for future patients. “I was excited and extremely grateful that the Huizengas could see this real need and respond to it in a very generous way,” she said.

The Huizengas support several organizations and causes financially because they strongly believe in sharing their good fortune. “We don’t look at it as philanthropy, we look at it as stewardship,” said Mr. Huizenga. “We have been gifted and entrusted by God with financial resources, and we have an obligation to use these gifts not just for our benefit, but for the benefit of others in the community.”

For more information about how to support Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development at or call (708) 216-3201.

Illinois Children's Healthcare Foundation

New Developmental Screenings Enhance Well-Child Visits at Loyola

Pediatricians are accustomed to examining children for illnesses, providing immunizations and assessing growth during routine well-child physicals. A new developmental screening program, funded in part by the Illinois Children’s Healthcare Foundation (ILCHF) is allowing Loyola University Health System (Loyola) providers to improve the quality of screening children for developmental delays such as speech progress and motor skills. The $138,765 grant has provided funds for additional staffing and new training materials to teach Loyola pediatric physicians, nurses and residents how to execute the screening program.

“This was a program we felt was vital to implement, and receiving this generous grant allowed us to hire staff specifically for this project,” said Jerold Stirling, MD, chair of the Department of Pediatrics, adding that Loyola conducts approximately 27,000 pediatric outpatient visits each year. “We’re grateful that the ILCHF is enabling us to improve upon the quality of care we provide to our pediatric patients.”

“Loyola physicians and nurses are very motivated about the new screenings and excited about implementing them,” said Melanie Cesar, Loyola child development specialist, one of the new staff members who was hired as part of the program to help providers learn how to administer the screenings.

The ILCHF is working to ensure that every child in Illinois has access to affordable and quality health care, according to Susan Kerr, ILCHF president. Its focus is on giving in three specific areas: improving the oral health of underserved children, addressing the mental health needs of children and increasing developmental screenings for young children. “Loyola’s commitment to the practice of making developmental screenings a part of primary care visits is what compelled the foundation to fund this project,” said Ms. Kerr. “I realize so many providers are rushed these days, handling large case loads and struggling to receive Medicaid reimbursements, so Loyola’s dedication to developmental screening is to be commended.”

Loyola health-care providers began offering screenings at three locations in July for 9-, 18- and 24-month-old children: the pediatric clinic at Loyola Outpatient Center (LOC) at the Maywood campus, the Loyola Family Health Center at North Riverside and the Loyola Center for Health on Roosevelt. The screenings will be phased-in at the rest of Loyola’s satellite offices by the end of 2007 for these age groups, and eventually will be extended to include children up to age 8; these older children will be evaluated for attention deficit disorder, dyslexia and behavior problems.

In the past, the majority of developmental problems were not noticed until children began school, according to Dr. Stirling. “The earlier we identify development problems in children, the better the outcome for children’s health,” he said, adding that as many as 30 percent of children may experience some type of developmental issue such as a speech impediment or walking delay. Pediatric patients who have a higher risk for developmental delays are those who were born prematurely — many of these are graduates of Loyola’s neonatology program. These children especially will benefit from the early screening.

The screening process involves two questionnaires for parents. The Peds Response Form is a general questionnaire asking whether parents are concerned about their children’s development such as how they move, speak or make speech sounds and get along with others. Parents can answer with a “yes,”“no” or “a little” and provide comments.

The Ages & Stages Questionnaire is a more specific questionnaire that caregivers can complete if the general survey shows they have concerns. Parents assist in assessing their own child’s development by observing them or by having them perform different activities. For example, the questionnaire designed for 18-month-olds asks caregivers to observe whether their toddler can walk down the stairs when holding an adult’s hand, can stack blocks and can say eight or more words in addition to “mama” and “dada.”

The results of the questionnaires determine if a child needs intervention. Once a determination is made, Loyola staff offer referrals and track the progress of the child. Loyola is using some of the grant money to make this process more efficient by incorporating the screening results into each patient’s electronic medical record and setting up a process for staff to track referrals and patient progress.

“Follow-up care is the most crucial part of the developmental screening process,” said Dr. Stirling. “It is also the most difficult part of the process. Some parents may not perceive their child’s delay as a critical issue and may not follow through with a recommended treatment referral. Others may feel they can’t afford assistance for their child.” However, assistance is available for children of all income levels through the Illinois Early Intervention Program, which provides occupational and physical therapy services to the child’s home free of charge or on a sliding pay scale. Loyola also provides therapy services at a variety of locations throughout the western and southwestern suburbs.

In the short time it has been implemented, the screening program already has identified children in need of intervention. In reviewing one family’s screening questionnaire, Dr. Stirling said he was able to recognize a 5-year-old girl who would have experienced difficulties keeping up with her classmates. “We were able to provide her with an evaluation and therapy referral in the summer so she could get an early start in preparing for school, instead of waiting until September,” he said.

Providers at the Loyola Family Health Center at North Riverside also have been quick to use the screening for the benefit of their patients. “The screening program is creating a sense of awareness among the staff about developmental delays,” said Ms. Cesar. “They are so excited to be implementing it and are already adapting it to older children even though that part of the screening hasn’t been formally implemented yet.”

For more information on supporting children’s health-care programs at Loyola, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-8249.

Family of the late John Keeley, MD

Family Honors Patriarch, Advances Emergency Care

Frightened after being in an automobile accident with her 3-year-old daughter, Betty Williams will never forget the personal attention she received from the late John Keeley, MD, a surgeon in the Emergency Department at Loyola University Health System (Loyola).

“I was waiting to have glass removed from my forehead, worrying about my daughter, when Dr. Keeley walked into my room holding her. He said, ‘I just wanted to let you know your little girl was fine,’” she recalled. “Then he removed the glass from my forehead himself, instead of calling over a tech to do the job.”

This happened about 30 years ago, but it’s still a comforting thought to Ms. Williams, who has been a service coordinator in the Emergency Department for 31 years and worked under Dr. Keeley. She remembers Dr. Keeley as a very precise and patient man. “He loved the emergency room, he really did,” she said. “He was truly a teacher at heart, happy to explain medical terminology and all the procedures he performed to patients, their families and medical students.”

A recent $2 million gift from the Keeley family, in honor of their father and grandfather, will provide for renova¬tions to the Emergency Department. The department will be renamed the “John L. Keeley, MD Emergency Department.”

“The gift really speaks to the work Dr. Keeley did in the Emergency Department and the impact he had on patient care and the education of students and residents,” said Mark Cichon, DO, director of Emergency Medical Services. “It’s enabling us to move forward on improvements to benefit our emergency patients and staff, creating a living legacy to a man who was highly valued by the department.”

The gift will be used to refurbish and update patient care areas, giving them a more modern look and providing soundproofing so patients have more privacy. “Pleasing aesthetics and a decrease in noise volume have been shown to reduce stress in both patients and staff and reduce the number of medical errors,” Dr. Cichon said.

The gift also will be used to improve the staff work areas by making them more ergonomically functional with new chairs and adjusted counter heights. The Emergency Department waiting room also will be overhauled and moved to a more private area.

Dr. Cichon said the gift is greatly appreciated because the Emergency Department hasn’t undergone a renovation since the late 1980s. “The gift will assist us in creating a new Emergency Department that provides the best experience we can offer to our patients at a time that they are undergoing incredible worry and stress,” he said.

Dr. Keeley, a heart specialist and surgeon who passed away in 1992, was the chair of the Department of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine from 1958 to 1969. He continued to attend weekly Department of Surgery conferences and worked as an Emergency Room physician until 1982, when he was 78 years old.

“Just about all of us grandchildren, at one time or another, spent time in Loyola’s Emergency Room to get stitches or have a broken bone mended,” said Kevin Keeley, one of Dr. Keeley’s grandsons.

“Emergency rooms can be very scary places, but a modern and comfortable environment can help families through their difficult situation.”

“Upgrading the Emergency Department will help improve the delivery of care and increase efficiency and work flow,” he added. “The Keeley family hopes our gift will help provide services to a greater number of people in the community. That would be the most fitting way to honor my grandfather’s lifetime of work and commitment to Loyola.”

For more information about supporting Emergency Services at Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development & External Affairs at or (708) 216-3201.

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Donald P. and Byrd M. Kelly Family Foundation

Kelly Foundation Gift Honors a Very Personal Connection

Patrick Kelly credits the “typical Irish family democracy” of his parents for the creation of the Donald P. & Byrd M. Kelly Family Foundation, which has recently made a $5 million gift to support oncology research and related programs at Loyola University Health System (Loyola). “In other words,” he said, “Mom and Dad told us it was going to happen.”

Mr. Kelly, vice chairman of the Loyola University Health System Board of Directors, together with his brother, Thomas, and sister, Laura Kelly Smith, are officers of the foundation, which was established in 1985. Their mother presides as president.

“Chicago born and bred, South side Irish on both sides,” as their son puts it, Mr. and Mrs. Kelly grew up in the hard¬scrabble times of the Depression. Although her husband was a ‘public’, Mrs. Kelly said, she attended both Catholic grammar and high school. “We paid $1 per month tuition in grade school and $5 per month in high school,” she recalls, and “I cried all summer one year because my father and mother wanted me to change schools when we moved. But I took a 45 minute streetcar ride everyday instead. I still have my friends from high school.”

Mrs. Kelly continues to be involved with Visitation Catholic Elementary School and the foundation over which she presides channels a large proportion of its charitable gifts to educational causes and institutions. Her son, Patrick, credits the education she received from the Dominican Sisters of Sinsinawa, who have run the school since 1891, with the patience and perseverance he sees in his mother to this day.

Mr. Donald Kelly, the retired president, chairman, and CEO of Envirodyne Industries of Oak Brook, Ill., also is a partner in D.P. Kelly & Associates LP of Chicago. He is a former trustee of Notre Dame University, former directorof the Museum of Science and Industry, and a former director of the Evans Scholars Foundation. “A huge White Sox fan,” according to his son, he is an all-around sports fan and keenly competitive golfer. He and Mrs. Kelly met at the insurance company where she had taken a job after attending college for a few years. She left that job when they were expecting their first child.

The family’s close connection to Loyola began with a fright¬ening medical emergency and has continued for more than 20 years. When one of her son Patrick’s daughters was just 4 years old, the child took a seemingly typical toddler spill at home. Everything seemed alright. But she awoke the next day disoriented and her parents rushed her to the local hos¬pital, where she was intubated and evaluated. Subsequently, she was transferred to Loyola University Hospital, where doctors operated to correct a subdural hematoma. Today, she is a healthy college student.

Of this incident, her grandmother remarked “Loyola doctors saved her life. When that happens, you feel like you have a real connection.” And, now that her husband is a patient at Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, she said, “you really feel like you have a connection. We come here and we see what goes on — we know the care patients are getting and it makes a big difference.”

Although their gifts to the health system (which have included support for the Transplant Immunology Lab and a cancer research endowment) are outside the realm of their foundation’s general giving focus — grammar and high school level education gifts — Mr. Patrick Kelly said, “We believe that the health system is a very important part of Chicago and we’re hopeful that this gift will continue Loyola’s drive to be preeminent in cancer care and research.”

For more information about how to support Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development at or call (708) 216-3201.

Janet Krabec

Sharing Her Good Fortune

Janet and Frank Krabec met at Chicago’s Trianon Ballroom and were married in 1960. She was 39 and he was 42. “We had a good life together,” said Mrs. Krabec of their 27-year marriage. And they fox-trotted and waltzed through many of those years. Now 90 years old, Mrs. Krabec has been a dedicated donor to cancer research at Loyola, fulfilling Frank’s wishes to use some of their resources to fight the disease that claimed his life and those of his mother, father and only brother.

Together, they decided that cancer research at Loyola would be their charitable focus, and Mrs. Krabec’s generosity has resulted in generous annual gifts over the last 25 years. She also has made provisions in her estate plan to continue this charitable work.

The youngest of six girls, Mrs. Krabec grew up in the Roseland neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, speaking Polish at home with her immigrant parents and attending St. Salomea School and Fenger High School. Her mother, a homemaker, and her father, a laborer at the Pullman Car Co., were devout people who centered family life on parish activities. “We went through tough times, but we didn’t know it,” said Mrs. Krabec, who was a teenager during the worst years of the Depression. She recalled having to rely on a neighbor’s charity after her father was injured by a car and until her eldest sister could finagle her way (at 14 years old) into a stenographer’s job to support the family—which she did for 30 years.

She herself spent much of her married life working as a secretary for a large South Side commercial upholstery firm until Frank convinced her to join him after he retired from his position as general manger at Duo-Fast, a commercial fastener firm. When he wasn’t golfing, they loved to travel together from their Cicero home to many continental U.S. states, as well as to Costa Rica, Hawaii, Poland and Czechoslovakia. “The nuns taught us Polish, so that came in handy,” she said of her trips to Europe.

Today, although she attends only an occasional dance, Mrs. Krabec continues to be active, driving herself to church, appointments and lunch with friends from the south-suburban home that she and a sister purchased together after Frank’s death. She keeps it immaculate, a skill no doubt learned from her mother, who, she noted, faithfully washed, stretched and starched the white curtains of their two-flat twice each month. Frank’s clocks, photos of her sisters, her watercolors, family mementos and an oil portrait of she and Frank bicycling in the woods hold places of honor in her home. Talking about her good health, ability to give back and her friendly neighbors, she said simply, “I have it good.”

To talk with someone about supporting LUHS through an estate gift, please contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

Fanchon Knight

Portrait of a Winner

Attorney David Kabat often quotes Jimmy Valvano, coach of the North Carolina State Wolf Pack, talking about his battle with cancer: “Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.” The dedicated care of the late Fanchon Knight, RN, a Loyola oncology nurse, helped Mr. Kabat, and many other Loyola cancer patients like him, accept that challenge. Although Ms. Knight herself succumbed to a metastatic melanoma in 2005, the legacy of her caring ministry clearly lives on in Mr. Kabat and in every one of the lives she touched. Recently, her parents, Lester and Virginia Knight, had the bittersweet pleasure of seeing the first Fanchon Knight Nurse of the Year Award presented at Loyola’s Nursing Excellence Awards ceremony. Hailing from Danville, Ill, but longtime residents of East Peoria, Mr. and Mrs. Knight are active and energetic grandparents who recently celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary. The endowment they created in their daughter’s memory will fund, in perpetuity, a stipend that the awardee will use for educational purposes.

According to Mr. and Mrs. Knight, nursing is the only career their daughter ever wanted, and it is their goal to support others who have chosen this profession. They continue to contribute to the endowment and encourage friends and family to do so as well. In May, many of those friends and family gathered in Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center (CBCC) to share memories and to dedicate a conference room named in Fanchon Knight’s memory.

“I gave my own mother some grey hair,” said Mrs. Knight, “but Fanchie was the perfect daughter. Even as a child, I could depend on her for anything.” From grammar school on, she was dedicated to her schoolwork, added Mr. Knight, and, though she had to work harder than her brother, to whom study came easier, she always got excellent grades. Highly inquisitive and motivated,  dedicated to helping people, she attended Peoria’s Spalding Institute/Academy of Our Lady and went on to graduate from Northern Illinois University in 1975 with her BSN in Nursing.  Ms. Knight spent most of her nursing career at Loyola University Medical Center, first as a neurology nurse and later working exclusively with oncology patients. In that time, she developed a reputation for her extraordinary dedication and generosity to patients, her meticulous ways, and her strong faith. “Fanchon was my expectation of what a nurse should be,” said Pam Rivet, a retired nurse who battled squamous cell carcinoma with her help. “She was knowledgeable, intelligent, patient and kind, but no-nonsense. ‘I’m strong and you can count on me,’ was always the sense you got from her. Fanchon made you feel  brave because you always felt like she had your back.”.

Mr. Kabat, on the other hand, found in this nurse something he hadn’t expected to encounter. “I came here [to Loyola] a real skeptic of medical care,” he said, in a voice still slightly raspy from his throat cancer surgery nine years ago. “But Fanchon was extremely caring, compassionate and intuitive. She knew what fears families had and she could reassure caregivers. She really became the quarterback of our care.” Ms. Knight’s colleague at the CBCC, Kathleen Bettis, RN, saw her fierce dedication to patients even in the face of her own cancer diagnosis, recalling that “She could have been angry or depressed, but instead her diagnosis empowered her to walk in her patients’ shoes and work that much harder to ease the burdens they faced.” Ms. Rivet characterizes this willingness to work closely with patients and their families, opening herself up to their pain, as the willingness on Fanchon’s part to be vulnerable, to always see the person in the diagnosis, rather than the other way around. Her dad says simply, “She had love built into her heart from God and she shared it. She loved helping people.” For more information about supporting the Fanchon Knight endowment at Loyola or creating an endowment in another area, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

Rich and Judy Konitzer

Cooperating with God to Improve Life for All

Although Mr. Konitzer, 74, wasn’t speaking about himself when he said it, the former Air Force mechanic,  chemistry and mathematics teacher, beer wholesaler,  refrigeration specialist and current farmer seems to fit the definition. Add to his list of life experiences husband, father, grandfather, philanthropist and cancer survivor, and he certainly fits the definition.

It was cancer that brought Mr. Konitzer, who lives with his wife, Judy, in Leland, Ill, 70 miles southwest of Chicago, toLoyola University Medical Center. Diagnosed with bone marrow cancer at another institution, his doctor referred him to Loyola where he was treated by Scott Smith, MD. (Although, as he laughingly admitted, “not before I called my accountant and my attorney.”) Now a six-year cancer survivor, he and his wife have recently made two generous gifts to Loyola University Health System—$50,000 to name a nursing station on the hospital’s renovated cancer floor and a $600,000 estate gift supporting cancer research.

For Mr. Konitzer, Loyola provides a great fit for his philanthropy. A lifelong Catholic, he grew up around relatives with religious vocations, attended Marmion Academy and St. Procopius College and met his wife on New Year’s Eve at a social club event for Catholic young people. He is active in his parish, where he teaches a course in world history as it pertains to Church history. But there are plenty of Catholic causes, and he contributes to many of them. Why focus on Loyola? It is, he says, the combination of care he received, the Catholic atmosphere and the research he knows the institution supports. “First, the dedication of the staff is unbelievable. And on my first stay, I talked religion and St. Ignatius with the priest who brought me communion in my room. But research is very important to me. Loyola has the latest and greatest, along with outstanding physicians. I can’t talk any more enthusiastically about the institution,” he said.

As a kid growing up in Chicago, Mr. Konitzer liked to hang outat the neighborhood drug store and read agriculture magazines. He thought that it would be nice to live in the country someday.  So, just after they were married, and while he was still a beer wholesaler, the Konitzers bought their first 40 acres with a big rambling house in Oswego, Ill. Today, they manage some 800 acres overall. They grow corn and soybeans, and continue to acquire land. It is a good life. “In agriculture, you do everything you can for your neighbors… in industry it isn’t that way,” he said.

Although he is still susceptible to infection because of his treatment, he feels better every day. Par for the course: after a recent bout with pneumonia, he got up on his tractor to plant some trees he got for Father’s Day. When he is not managing his business interests, he spends a lot of time reading, favoring nonfiction from his collection or borrowed from the library where Mrs. Konitzer works part time. Perhaps it is this contemplative bent, together with a life lived in faith that leads him to observe “We are all in the body of Christ and are working out our salvation. Philanthropy is what you owe because God has given you existence.”  

For more information on supporting cancer programs and research at Loyola, contact us at (708) 216-3201 or

Loyola Children's Committee

The Loyola Children’s Committee (LCC) formed in April 2010 by a group of dedicated volunteers who work to:

  • Drive awareness of the scope, quality, expertise and impact of Children’s Health programs and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center
  • Advocate for children’s health issues
  • Fundraise for strategic Loyola pediatric programs

The LCC is proud to represent Loyola University Health System and the only children’s hospital in the U.S. to bear the Ronald McDonald name. They have a comprehensive plan to promote the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital and fundraise in support of renovating its renowned Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Officers of the committee are: Carol L. Wolniakowski, chairperson; Sally D. Gibbs, vice chairperson; Grant M. Mulvey, treasurer; and Jassen Strokosch, secretary. Other members of the committee include: Thomas Dee, Dave Erfort, Lisa B. Geiger, Mike Gibbs, Sarah Gibbs, Gina Hardy, Cliff Koroll, Patricia Lekacz, Michele M. Moore, Anne Niciforo, Karen A. Reynolds, Matthew Scharpf, Robin Scharpf, Sam Stowell and Debra Upp.

We welcome your help! If you are interested in being a part of the Loyola Children’s Committee, please contact Peggy Lafleur, senior director, major gifts, at (708) 216-5197.

Sydney and Barbara Oko

Patient Gift Honors Heart Physicians Who Restored His Health

Thirty years ago, 40-year-old Sidney Oko’s quality of life was very poor due to a damaged aortic valve. "I could hardly walk, and I was in real bad shape. I realized I had a very serious problem," he recalled.

Mr. Oko underwent an aortic valve replacement at Loyola University Medical Center (Loyola). His team included now retired Loyola cardiologist Rolf Gunnar, MD, and cardiac surgeon Roque Pifarre, MD, who is living in Spain part time. "Dr. Gunnar was extremely interested in my case. He and Dr. Pifarre worked very well together, and I was lucky to have them on my team," Mr. Oko said. "They put my life back together."

After the successful surgery, Mr. Oko kept busy, raising children and grandchildren, but he never forgot the physicians who made it all possible. He and his wife, Barbara, recently pledged $100,000 over two years to be used toward unrestricted cardiology research at Loyola. Part of the gift will honor his surgical team by renaming the echocardiography reading room in the hospital the Rolf Gunnar, MD, and Roque Pifarre, MD, Reading Room. "It’s a small repayment for what these doctors have given me: health, happiness and the ability to watch my grandchildren grow," he said.

"It’s great to hear from former patients who are doing well years after a procedure," said Dr. Gunnar. "It’s one of the most important rewards that make the medical profession worthwhile." As a testament to his own cardiac health, Mr. Oko believes it is fitting that his gift will contribute to research that will benefit future cardiac patients. "Loyola did a great job with me 30 years ago, but the technology and surgery success rate is even greater today," he said.

He is proud to make a donation to a health system with such a strong reputation, adding that he would not hesitate to return to Loyola if he needed more treatment. "Loyola is a great institution. It’s one that’s renowned and respected, and I’m happy to be involved in a small way with its leading-edge cardiology research," he said. "Who knows, in the future I may return for more treatment. Although I’ve been told this valve may outlast me."

Mr. Oko believes that philanthropy to health care in general is important because it is a way to share your good fortune with others. "Philanthropy is a wonderful way of telling people you’re happy with your quality of life and you want others to enjoy their lives as well," Mr. Oko said. "What better way of expressing your happiness is there than helping others enjoy good health?"

For more information on giving a gift for research in cardiology, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3203.

Richard A. Perritt Charitable Foundation

Helping Physicians to Advance Patient Care

Premature babies often require constant supplemental oxygen because their lungs are seriously under-developed. This saves their lives, but it also endangers their sight. It can cause abnormal blood vessels to develop in the eyes, leading to retinal detachment — which means blindness for life.

A recent grant totaling more than $400,000 from the Richard A. Perritt Charitable Foundation will help to ensure, however, that Loyola remains at the forefront of the ophthalmology research, physician training and patient care that can treat potentially tragic outcomes like these in patients of all ages.

Critical to making those successful treatments available to patients is continued specialty training of new doctors and the availability of essential technology and equipment.

Currently, Loyola’s Ophthalmology Residency Program is one of the most highly sought after in the country by young doctors wanting to specialize in the field. It also attracts first-rate faculty. “We produce residents who are ethical, kind, caring and concerned and trained at the very top of their profession,” said James McDonnell, MD, who administers the pediatric ophthalmology program at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Stritch).

But few people outside health-care education understand that educating residents for the three years they are training costs their institutions money. “Without independent funding, it’s extremely hard to run a robust program, but Perritt has allowed us to do that; every single aspect of the department has been enhanced by this funding assistance,” said Charles Bouchard, MD, John P. Mulcahy Professor of Ophthalmology and chair, Department of Ophthalmology.

Among the equipment that the latest grant will support is a high-resolution pathology system. This computer-based technology functions as a virtual microscope, allowing residents to view high quality scans of pathology slides rather than rely on the fragile glass slides and microscopes of the past.

The grant also will support the purchase of a cataract surgical simulator, which allows residents to master cataract surgery procedures under a variety of conditions. Cataracts are the leading cause of blindness worldwide, and cataract surgery is the most common surgical procedure in the United States, affecting patients from infancy to advanced adulthood, so residents must be proficient in the procedure.

Gifts from The Perritt Foundation have also been critical in supporting faculty and resident research over the years. In 2008-2009 alone, over 60 articles, abstracts and book reviews came out of the department, a legacy of learning that residents carry forward to benefit generations of patients to come.

“We are gratified at the opportunity to see the advances that are made in research and education at Stritch as a result of Dr. Perritt’s gift,” said Ronald Tyrpin, director of the foundation. “To his dying day, he was doing research, believing that some day we would be able to perform eye transplants, and this is a fitting use of his gift.”

The Perritt Foundation is a longtime supporter of Stritch, having made gifts totaling more than $5 million to the medical school during a 15-year partnership. In addition to ophthalmology research and the Department of Ophthalmology residency training program, the grant will support two medical school scholarships and the Gastrological Oncology Center at Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Richard A. Perritt, MD, was a 1928 graduate of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

For more information about supporting ophthalmology, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

The Southwest Airlines Hospital Medical Transportation Grant

Also Treating the Human Spirit

On October 6, 2002, Michelle Salerno’s life came to a screeching halt. The diagnosis was advanced Hodgkins lymphoma and the prognosis wasn’t good. She was ready to fight, but many of the doctors she saw thought it was a lost cause. In 2003, she came to Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center where she met Dr. Tulio Rodriguez and everything changed.

“He never gave up on me. There was always a plan B, something else to try,” said Ms. Salerno. “Dr. Rodriguez would always tell me that I’m not dying any sooner than the rest of the people living. Loyola gave me hope for life.”

For Ms. Salerno, that plan B was a series of stem cell transplants, rigorous chemotherapy and clinical trials. They first transplanted Michelle’s stem cells, but they weren’t strong enough to fight the cancer. She needed a donor. Tests revealed her oldest brother Joey to be a perfect match and, in 2004, she had a second transplant.

Still, the cancer was there. Even after seven years of chemotherapy her bone marrow wasn’t healthy and she was receiving blood and platelet transfusions once every two to three weeks.

Loyola suggested Ms. Salerno contact Joey to donate again for a stem cell boost that would repair her bone marrow, but he lived in Bethesda, Maryland. Though she knew Joey would be there in an instant for her, she didn’t want to add a financial burden. Thanks to the generosity of a Southwest Airlines program, Joey was able to fly to Chicago free on a donated ticket. On March 9, 2010, her brother gave her 5 million stem cells and she hasn’t had a transfusion since.

“The best part about the Southwest ticket was that it was an open-ended one. He didn’t have to fly out on any particular day. This gift let us enjoy time together while he was here. I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough: Loyola, Southwest, my brother — you truly saved my life,” said Ms. Salerno. The Southwest Airlines Hospital Medical Transportation Grant Program assists families like Ms. Salerno’s throughout the country focus on healing by helping to reduce worries about transportation expenses.

“It’s amazing to see the change in Michelle,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “It is wonderful to see someone who was so sick and suffered for so long having fun and being able to enjoy life again.”

Laura Morell, social worker at the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, has seen the difference that the donated Southwest tickets make in the lives of people struggling with cancer.

“We’ve seen lives changed and uplifted thanks to these tickets,” said Ms. Morell. “We’ve flown family members in as donors or just to be of support. And family support when battling a disease like this makes all the difference.”

For more information about the Southwest Airlines ticket program, contact the Office of Development at or (708) 216-3201.

Planned Oncology Renovation Renewing the Promise

The Coleman Foundation

Recent generous gifts will help complete an ambitious $15 million redesign and renovation of Loyola University Hospital’s Oncology Acute Care Center for in-patient cancer treatment, creating a new environment to “go beyond the illness to treat the whole person.”

The Coleman Foundation, based in Chicago, has announced a $2 million challenge grant to support the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, one of the four wings of the Oncology Acute Care Center of Loyola University Hospital. It will be devoted to bone marrow transplant patients and their families.

The Coleman Foundation challenge grant is intended to encourage private donations for the project. The Foundation will match gifts on a dollar for dollar basis, up to $2 million, through August 2010. The Foundation, a longtime supporter of Loyola’s cancer care program, is interested in cancer treatments and improving local access to high quality care through direct patient services. Believing that psychosocial support and information are important components of good medical care, the Foundation previously funded The Coleman Foundation Image Renewal Center at Loyola where patients utilize a wide range of services designed to help them revitalize their self-image in a comfortable and relaxing setting.

The Foundation also established the Coleman Professorship in Oncology, held by Patrick Stiff, MD, director of Loyola’s Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center. Dr. Stiff is among the first researchers to use umbilical cord blood stem cells for treatment of certain adult cancers, which is particularly useful for patients who require an unrelated transplant donor. When patients receive high doses of chemotherapy and/or radiation to kill cancer cells, the immune system cells are also destroyed in the process. Bone marrow or umbilical cord blood cells can help the patient develop new immune cells.

The Foundation has begun exploring ways to increase donations of umbilical cord blood. “Cord blood is largely a wasted resource right now,” said Michael Hennessy, president and CEO of The Coleman Foundation. “We are interested in encouraging practical applications that most positively impact the lives of those living with cancer.”

Bone marrow transplant treatment often involves hospital stays of three weeks or more and is stressful for both patients and their families. Redesign and renovation of the wing, which will be named The Coleman Foundation Bone Marrow Transplant Center, will provide 39 private patient rooms; a group exercise room; a meditation room and a family room where family members can cook meals, watch movies, attend support group meetings and celebrate important life events.

When she learned of Loyola’s new plans, Moira Minielly, an eight-year cancer survivor, said: “While in treatment, I wanted to be more than a passive recipient of chemo and radiation. I wanted a sense of control back in my life. I sought ways to improve my physical and mental well-being — what a luxury it would have been to have it all within my reach at the hospital facilities! Through this grant, patients now will be offered both a sense of calm and empowerment to make a difference in their treatment and survival. They will have the opportunity to regain a feeling of control in their ‘surreal’ life.”

“With the generous support of The Coleman Foundation and other donors, we will be able to create an environment that supports care of the mind, body and spirit for patients like Moira and their families,” said Dr. Stiff.

Anonymous Gift

The desire to leave a legacy that honors Loyola’s preeminence in treating some of the most critically ill patients inspired a generous individual donor. The donor, who wished to remain anonymous, made a $5 million bequest with no restrictions, to be dedicated to the highest and best use at the medical center. Loyola leadership decided it would be a fitting use of the gift to commit the funds to improvement of the Oncology Acute Care Center in order to better serve cancer patients. Together with a previous $5 million gift from the Donald P. and Byrd M. Kelly Foundation, the donor’s gift makes this possible.

“As knowledge and technology develop and treatment facilities grow outdated, we need to bring them in line with our patients’ expectations and needs,” said Paul K. Whelton, MB, MD, MSc, president and CEO, Loyola University Health System. “These three gifts will go a very long way in helping us to do that.”

If you are interested in giving toward The Coleman Foundation challenge grant, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or


Tellabs Foundation Awards Major Grant to Loyola Hospital for Infant Care

Hospital care changes — a lot— when the patient is a premature infant. Regular bassinets are too big. Temperature and humidity control become essential to protect a preemie’s incredibly delicate skin and lack of body fat. Standard gurneys can’t be used to transport the babies and standard infusion pumps are far too overwhelming for a preemie’s drug, nutrition, or fluid delivery needs. But a recent $250,000 grant from the Tellabs Foundation will help address those needs for patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital at Loyola University Medical Center. “The grant request from Loyola for the NICU hit our ‘sweet spot’ as a funder,” said Meredith Hilt, executive director of the foundation. “Education, technology and health care are our funding priorities.

Put that together with Loyola’s outstanding reputation in neonatal care, and it was a win/win to award this grant.”  A major portion of the Tellabs Foundation grant will be used to purchase specially designed Giraffe®Omnibeds at a cost of approximately $38,000 each. The beds are the latest incarnation of what was once known as an “incubator.” The Omnibeds provide uniform radiant heat and humidity control that mimics the womb environment;  an integrated scale for monitoring weight; a rotating mattress; four portholes that facilitate care while maintaining temperature and humidity; an integrated x-ray cassette tray;  and height controls to facilitate both care and nurturing. And they can even be fitted with a battery unit that can run the bed’s electronic systems while the child is transported for tests.

“One of our greatest challenges in caring for preemies is the need for specialized equipment like this,” said Marc Weiss, MD,  the NICU’s medical director. “It might seem obvious, but even many medical professionals don’t stop to think about how the patient’s size affects everything. Standard issue just doesn’t work for a child who weighs 9.2 ounces.”

The Tellabs Foundation grant also will fund the purchase of precise syringe pumps at a cost of $3,000 each. These devices allow a large filled syringe to be fitted into a pump that can deliver smooth, accurate infusions of less than .5ml (1/10 of a teaspoon) per hour if needed. Typical infusion pumps designed for larger patients can produce a small “burst” of liquid inconsequential to typical patients, but potentially delivering a larger dose than a  preemie needs in an hour, so this equipment is critical.  

Commenting on the grant, Denise Callarman, vice president of the Tellabs Foundation board, observed that “We invest in communities where Tellabs employees live and work and we know Loyola plays a significant role in caring for children in these communities. It was an honor to know we could give back.”  Callarman knows first-hand the challenges of parenting a preemie. She and her husband, Tim, are the parents of NICU  “graduates,” now 23 years old, one of whom was born with Vater Syndrome and remains medically fragile, though stable. When she toured the NICU recently, she said, “I had a flashback….not much had changed since the boys were born. So I thought that the grant could really impact patient care and make it 21st century.” With the vision of benefactors like Tellabs Foundation, Loyola plans to continue its record of exemplary care for some of the Chicago-area’s tiniest patients.  

For more information about supporting the NICU at Loyola, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

William A. and Mary G. Ryan Center for Heart and Vascular Medicine

Ryan Family Shows Support for Loyola's Heart and Vascular Program

William G. and Mary A. Ryan, of Hinsdale, Ill., recently illustrated their support for Loyola University Health System’s (Loyola) top-rated cardiovascular program by pledging $5 million to the Center for Heart &Vascular Medicine. Mr. Ryan is a grateful patient of David Wilber, MD, George M. Eisenberg Professor of Cardiovascular Sciences, and director of the division of cardiology and the Cardiovascular Institute. “We have been impressed with the quality of care and the devotion of the medical staff and wanted to contribute to the outstanding program,” said Mr. Ryan.

A portion of their gift will fund a new imaging and robotic guidance system that will be used for complex cardiac interventions to treat conditions ranging from arrhythmias to heart failure to coronary artery disease.

Another portion of the pledge will be used toward the general construction of the center expansion. In recognition of the gift, the center will be named the William G. & Mary A. Ryan Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine. “The gift from Mr. and Mrs. Ryan will be used for improving our physical facilities and expanding our therapeutic options for a broad spectrum of cardiac problems including atrial fibrillation,” said Dr.Wilber.

After the expansion, patients will have a more formal, convenient entrance and easier access to cardiac testing areas including eight interventional suites for electrophysiologic procedures, cardiac catherization and vascular interventions. Thecenter is just one physical representation of Loyola’s multidisciplinary approach to treatment, bringing our national heart and vascular medicine experts together in one location. The close proximity of specialists, including general cardiologists, interventionalists, electrophysiologists, radiologists and surgeons, allows for collaborative review of patients’ tests, diagnoses and treatment options. The center also will facilitate lifestyle and genetic counseling for family members who are at risk for heart and vascular disease.

Mr. and Mrs. Ryan feel strongly about contributing toward the success of Loyola. “There is no way in the world that hospitals could expand and continue to give patients the very best care without philanthropic giving,” said Mrs. Ryan.

With demand for inpatient and outpatient services growing, Loyola is expanding to not only meet but surpass this current demand. To grow, however, the health system cannot rely solely on reimbursements and revenue. Mr. and Mrs. Ryan’s generous contribution is helping fund the resources needed for Loyola to provide the best, high-quality and innovative health care that patients have come to expect.

“The Ryan gift helped us secure some of the latest technologies to treat cardiac patients. This donation helps solidify our position as a leader in cardiology,” said Dr.Wilber.

The Ryans feel great satisfaction knowing that they are helping other patients with their donation. “We are strongly supportive of the Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine expansion, and pleased with the way Loyola has built the heart and vascular program,” said Mr. Ryan. “We know that Loyola will continue providing superior heart and vascular care for all patients.”

For more information about how to support Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development at or call (708) 216-3201.

The Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Memorial Foundation

The Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Memorial Foundation Remembers Its Namesake

Charles “Chuck” M. Schwartz, MD, was a distinguished orthopaedic surgeon and a national leader in the field of total joint replacement surgery. Colleagues at Loyola University Health System (Loyola) as well as his many students and patients respected Dr. Schwartz as a skilled surgeon, gifted teacher and member of the Loyola family. He is fondly remembered as an effective communicator and caregiver who earned the confidence and trust of his patients.

“Dr. Schwartz’s patients adored him,” said Mary Lutes, RN, clinical coordinator, of the Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Center for Musculoskeletal Care. Terry R. Light, MD, Dr. William M. Scholl Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, and chair, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation, added, “Chuck always was the patient’s advocate. He was determined to ensure that every patient received the best possible care.”

Dr. Schwartz received his medical degree from the Chicago Medical School at the University of Health Science in North Chicago, and completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Loyola University Medical Center (LUMC). He also completed a trauma fellowship in Toronto and a total joint fellowship at Harvard University in Boston.

He joined the LUMC full-time faculty in 1980 and steadily built his practice in orthopaedic and total joint replacement surgeries with the help of many enthusiastic referrals from colleagues and satisfied patients. He was promoted to associate professor in 1984. He also served as chief of the orthopaedic section of the Department of Surgery at Edward Hines Jr. Department of Veterans Affairs Hospital. Dr. Schwartz went into private practice in 1993 but continued to bring his most difficult cases back to Loyola.

Following Dr. Schwartz’s unexpected passing at the age of 47, family and friends founded The Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Memorial Foundation to honor his legacy.

In 1997, the foundation made a $300,000 pledge to Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Stritch) to establish:

  • The Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Annual Lectureship: Conducted by a leading orthopaedic doctor or academician specializing in joint replacement surgery, the lecture promotes research and education in the field of total joint replacement.
  • The Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Traveling Fellowship: This fellowship provides an annual stipend, which enables an orthopaedic fellow to travel to other medical institutions and collaborate with internationally renowned surgeons.
  • The Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Medical Student Scholarship: This annual scholarship is granted to a medical student(s) based on financial need.

In 2001, the foundation pledged an additional $100,000, with $75,000 designated to the Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Medical Student Scholarship and $25,000 to support the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery & Rehabilitation’s research efforts in the area of total joint replacement.

In 2003, Jack Schwartz chose to establish a more significant and visible memorial to his son. Using appreciated securities worth more than $500,000, he established a charitable remainder annuity trust to benefit the medical center. To recognize this contribution, Loyola named the Musculoskeletal Care Center in his son’s honor.

On Dec. 15, 2003, family, former colleagues and friends gathered to witness the dedication of the Charles M. Schwartz, MD, Center for Musculoskeletal Care at the Loyola Outpatient Center. “My dad really wanted to create something long-lasting that would honor Chuck’s memory for generations to come,” said brother Marc Schwartz. “Our family is pleased to have the opportunity to create something meaningful out of this tragedy.”

For more information about how to support Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development at or call (708) 216-3201.

Anthony J. Stella Gift

Creating an Oasis for Healing

He was a big White Sox fan, loved to read and liked to play the horses a bit. Kind, caring, strong and always there for his family, the late Anthony Catino is being honored by his grandson, Anthony Stella, through the creation of a garden at Loyola University Health System. Nestled into the exterior north corner of the Loyola Outpatient Center on the Maywood campus, the garden is centered on a contemporary fountain and surrounded by redbud trees, boxwood, a Japanese maple, a variety of perennials and decorative planters. Café tables and chairs provide an outdoor extension of the Jazzman Café for patients and their families to enjoy a restful outdoor space in fine weather.

Mr. Stella thinks it is a fitting way to honor a man who loved life and was relentlessly positive, even in the face of many health issues, including an aortic aneurysm, bladder cancer,  and a brain tumor. “Even with his last illness, he didn’t get depressed—he was always optimistic and trusted his Loyola doctors, especially Dr. [Maureen] Fearon,” Mr. Stella recalled. “When he found out he had the brain tumor I came into the room and he was doing bed exercises. ‘I’ve got to be strong if they’re going to operate’ he said. And he was 90 years old.” “The Catino Garden will provide visitors to the Outpatient Center an oasis of beauty and calm in keeping with our philosophy to treat the whole person,” said Daniel Post, senior vice president for ambulatory programs & system services. “It is a gem.”

A highly informed newshound who kept up on politics, the economy and medicine all his life, Mr. Catino was, according to his grandson, “a blue-collar Republican” dedicated to making a better life for his family. He also was extremely handy, willing to roll up his sleeves and help whenever a carpentry, plumbing or electrical problem presented itself. Mr. Stella had ample time to witness his grandfather’s character in action. Growing up, “a week didn’t go by that we didn’t see my grandparents,” he said, and he and his grandfather spent a good deal of time together at the office after Mr. Stella founded his commercial real estate company, Stellco Properties, Inc. in Naperville, Ill. Unable to attend college himself, Mr. Catino advocated wide-ranging reading and urged his grandson to get an education; Mr. Stella graduated from DePaul University, where he majored in business administration. Early on, real estate fascinated him and he “dabbled a bit” on his parent’s behalf. Later, he began looking for properties to acquire and manage. Then, as now, he finds the process interesting and closing a deal to be an especially satisfying challenge. Many of the properties he has acquired have needed renovation and his grandfather was always ready to climb a ladder to help. But perhaps more important was his grandfather’s advice always to be ahead of the curve and avoid problems by anticipating what was coming in the marketplace. Following that advice has been critical to his success, he says.

Mr. Stella has found that fostering good relationships and dealing with integrity — values that both his grandfather and his parents (also independent business owners) inculcated in him from the start — are critical to drive a successful business. “People need to get a sense of fairness from you. And if you promote a culture where you value those things, that gives you a competitive advantage,” he said. With his own success based on the lessons he learned from others, he is happy to have the means to give something back. The garden will be a fitting tribute to a man who tried to make things nicer for others, Mr. Stella believes. “My grandfather was a practical, Depression-era guy and might be embarrassed a bit at this. But then he’d say  ‘Ahhh, Tony. Do what you want to do!’” For more information about supporting patient care at Loyola University Health System, contact the Office of Development & External Affairs at development or call (708) 216-3201.

Daniel J. Sykora Neonatology Research and Education Fund

Honoring Life with Research

As Scott and Jean Sykora look at their healthy 14-year-old son, a math whiz who enjoys baseball and football, his first months of life spent at Loyola University Health System’s (Loyola) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) seem a distant memory. However, the experience is still fresh enough in their minds to inspire the Hinsdale, Ill., couple to establish a fund in their son’s name — the Daniel J. Sykora Neonatology Research & Education Fund — for Loyola’s NICU medical staff.

"The doctors and nurses in Loyola’s NICU saved Daniel’s life and our sanity," said Mrs. Sykora. "Having a premature child sick enough to be in NICU is every new parent’s nightmare. We want to do our part to further NICU education and research so, perhaps, fewer parents will have to go through the same experience."

Daniel was born 14 weeks early on Jan. 2, 1993 at 26 weeks’ gestation. He weighed only 2 pounds, 2 ounces. Mrs. Sykora went into preterm labor due to a misshaped uterus caused by a medication her own mother had taken when she was pregnant. "I spent one week in the hospital in preterm labor, during which I received steroid shots to help with Daniel’s lung development," she explained. "That probably saved his life because he had good lungs and was able to avoid respiratory problems."

After Daniel’s birth he was given a 50 percent chance of survival. His small size made him vulnerable to infections and viruses. His parents were not able to hold him for three weeks, and he spent his days in an isolette attached to oxygen.

The Sykoras had a few scares while Daniel was in the hospital for more than two months: his weight dropped to 1 pound, 12 ounces; he was not able to regenerate blood taken for several tests and required several blood transfusions from his father; and he underwent hernia surgery. But he survived by escaping the major problems common in premature babies. "He never suffered from brain bleeding, and he seemed to navigate safely through all the high risks. We called him our miracle baby," Mrs. Sykora recalled. "The wonderful care provided by the doctors and nurses at Loyola was responsible for his healthy outcome. We met a lot of kind people who not only provided high-tech care but the human spirit side of care."

Daniel went home healthy on March 19, 1993, weighing 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Today he is straight-A eighth grader who takes an advanced geometry class at Hinsdale Central High School. The endowment named after Daniel was made possible in part by a generous gift from LJM Partners, an investment financial firm where Mr. Sykora serves as managing director. "My business partner, Tony Caine, founded the firm; he is like an uncle to our son," said Mr. Sykora. "The fund will help doctors interested in specializing in neonatology."

The fund will be used to increase educational opportunities for physicians, fellows and residents working in the NICU including Jonathan Muraskas, MD, professor of neonatal-perinatal medicine/obstetrics & gynecology, who was part of the team that took care of Daniel. It also will provide money to further research on causes and treatments for premature births.

The practice of neonatology is relatively young, and there are many unanswered questions including why premature infants commonly experience bleeding in their brains and bowel infections, according to Dr. Muraskas, who is director of the Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine Fellowship Program and chair of the Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Committee on Admissions.

Researchers also are working on treatments to help younger premature infants not only survive but thrive; currently NICU technology has reached a plateau at a specific gestational age. Dr. Muraskas explained that a 2-pound baby born at 27 weeks’ gestation has a 90 percent chance of survival and a less than 10 percent chance of having significant developmental problems. However, a 1-pound baby born at 23 weeks’ gestation has only a 30 percent chance of survival and a 90 percent chance of significant developmental problems. "We haven’t made much progress with these extremely small birth weight babies," he said. "Additional research is needed to improve their outcomes, preferably to keep them from being born too soon. Survival is one thing, but their quality of life is just as important."

Dr. Muraskas expressed his gratitude for the Sykora’s gift and encouraged other parents of NICU babies to consider donating to the fund or starting a new one. "Financial gifts like the Sykora’s endowment will help us continue our work and retain our status as one of the top neonatal centers in the country," he said. "However, the biggest satisfaction for me and everyone working in Loyola’s NICU is seeing our graduates excel in high school, college and life in general. When a baby as small as Danny not only does well but thrives, that makes all our work worthwhile."

To contribute to the Daniel J. Sykora Neonatology Research & Education Fund, or for more information on making your own gift to Loyola’s NICU, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

E. L. Wiegand Foundation

Grant to Incorporate Child’s Play into Cancer Treatment

Doctors’ waiting rooms and examining rooms are unsettling enough when you’re an adult. Imagine how frightening they can seem to a child undergoing cancer treatment.

A $350,000 grant from the E. L. Wiegand Foundation of Reno, Nev., to Loyola University Health System (Loyola) will help create a pediatric waiting lounge and a pediatric oncology treatment center. The treatment center will have child-sized bed and treatment chairs, each with its own entertainment station where patients can play video games or watch television. Pediatric oncology patients have undergone treatments in the adult treatment center since the cancer center opened in 1994, said Barbara Buturusis, executive director, Oncology Services. Housing the pediatric waiting lounge and treatment center in one area will make treatments simpler for patients and their families because they will not have to walk from laboratory to waiting room to treatment areas.

The adjoining lounge will feature child-sized furniture, bright colors, youthful décor, an area for creating crafts and have plenty of toys, books and puzzles to keep young patients occupied, said Ms. Buturusis. This special area will increase children’s comfort level from the first moment they arrive at the cancer center, making their experiences less frightening and more engaging.

The foundation that made the renovation possible was founded in 1981 to carry out the legacy of the late Edwin L. and Anne Wiegand. “Mr. and Mrs. Wiegand were extremely benevolent during their lifetime,” said Kristen Avansino, president and executive director of the E. L. Wiegand Foundation. “Foundation trustees have been conscientious in awarding grants in alignment with the Wiegands’ values.”

Edwin L. Wiegand was a German immigrant and a self-taught engineer who investigated the illumination properties of electricity through wires. In 1915, he was granted his first patent. In 1917, Mr. Wiegand founded Edwin L. Wiegand Company in Pittsburg. Throughout his lifetime, he continued to work with electricity and never retired, even after he and his wife moved to Reno in their later years. They invested the money Mr. Wiegand earned from his inventions and used the profits to make charitable gifts.

The E. L. Wiegand Foundation was created to perpetuate the benefactor’s lifelong philanthropic mission. The foundation awards grants to Catholic hospitals and has a special interest in pediatric and cancer care. “Although Loyola is outside the Foundation’s geographical purview, our internal due diligence revealed a medical center that shares our commitment to excellence,” said Ms. Avansino. “We contacted Loyola and, during discussions, decided that the creation of a pediatric oncology waiting area and examining room would be a suitable way to honor the Wiegands’ legacy.”

Ms. Avansino said foundation trustees are looking forward to learning about the completed projects because they know the Wiegands would be pleased to play a part in making life easier for pediatric oncology patients. “We are honored to continue to fulfill the Wiegands’ wishes and, in doing so, find the practice of philanthropy a serious, professional and humbling experience,” Ms. Avansino said.

For more information about supporting pediatric oncology, contact Eva Moss, associate director, patient services, or (708) 216-8249.

Family and Friends of Sophia Sukys Walsh

Tribute Fund is a Family Affair

When family and friends think of Sophia Sukys Walsh, they often remember her love of dancing, especially Lithuanian folk dancing. “She never missed an opportunity to dance; she was so full of life,” recalled her daughter, Julia Walsh Wegner.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001, Ms. Walsh underwent treatment at Loyola University Health System (Loyola). “Physicians gave her only a 20 percent chance of living five years, but she survived five years, two months and three weeks,” said Mrs. Wegner. “She put a tremendous amount of faith in the Lord and her doctors, and she always remained hopeful and positive.”

In remembrance of Ms. Walsh’s zest for life, Mrs. Wegner and her husband, Ken, established the Sophia Sukys Walsh Endowment Fund, which has grown to more than $110,000 thanks to gifts from family and friends. Income from the endowment fund is used for research investigating the causes of ovarian cancer as well as new treatments.

The Wegners met with Ronald Potkul, MD, Professor, Department of OB/GYN and director, Division of Gynecological Oncology, Loyola, to learn about his research in ovarian cancer. Dr. Potkul and other Loyola cancer researchers are investigating whether women’s own immune systems can be triggered to prevent cancer cells from returning after chemotherapy.

Basically, the problem people have with cancers is that the cancer cells learn to hide from immune systems and even break them down,” Dr. Potkul explained. “Ovarian cancer is an especially frustrating cancer because there are almost always a few cancer cells that lie dormant after treatment, but then build back up.”

Loyola researchers are investigating a medication that they believe will prevent the immune system from breaking down. They also are creating vaccines from patients’ cancerous tumors to be given postchemotherapy to help the body fight off any remaining cancer cells. A clinical trial studying these vaccines has just begun.

Mrs. Wegner has a special interest in Dr. Potkul’s research. “My mother responded well to chemotherapy, but one tough little cancer cell remained and began to grow,” she said. “We’re hoping that the endowment will enable women diagnosed with ovarian cancer to dance a little longer than my mom.”

Although the Wegners initially started the fund, other family members and friends have made contributions. Last Christmas, Chuck Walsh, Mrs. Wegner’s father, made a gift in his four grandchildren’s names. One of the grandchildren, Spencer Wegner, requested that guests to his 13th birthday party make donations to the fund instead of giving him presents. He raised $1,580 from his friends and classmates.

“Please make sure this money goes to cancer research in honor of my grandma, and think of my grandma today. She is a hero who never stopped fighting,” Spencer wrote in a letter that accompanied his donation. “I pray for you all every day to come closer to finding a cure for cancer.”

“It was a wonderful party. The kids had fun while learning a valuable lesson about giving,” Mrs. Wegner said. “Today, so many families have all the material goods they need. A gift to a fund honoring a loved one is much more meaningful than another toy or game.”

The Wegners are pleased to receive donations to the fund for all gift-giving occasions,“It’s my new favorite gift; I can’t think of anything else I’d rather receive.” Mrs. Wegner said.

For more information on setting up a tribute fund to support oncology research or other causes at Loyola, contact the Office of Development at (708) 216-3201 or

The Van Kampen Conference Center

A Gift of Family Hope

On Oct. 28, the Van Kampen Conference Center officially opened, changing the way cardiology and cardiovascular surgery fellows learn and the way Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Stritch) faculty members teach.

The new center offers a significantly improved meeting space, state-of-the art audio-visual equipment, head-lamp cameras that record surgeries, and more work stations with computer hook-ups to accommodate staff and fellows. Art work for the conference room also is included in the tribute gift.

New head-lamp camera equipment that can be worn by surgeons is of particular note. Before, when surgery was performed, only surgery staff in the operating room could view the procedure. With a head-lamp camera to record the surgery, these complex procedures will be able to be viewed and pre-viewed by cardiovascular surgery staff and fellows, enhancing both post-graduate education and surgical care. Ultimately, a library of surgery videos will be available for these same audiences.

“The generosity of the Van Kampen family will greatly enhance our learning environment and quality of care, helping the medical center recruit and retain the best physicians in the field,” said David Wilber, MD, director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Divison of Cardiology.

World-class heart care and hope brought Judith and Robert Van Kampen to Loyola University Health System (Loyola). Because of Loyola’s expert, compassionate care, the Van Kampen’s turned their personal struggle into advancements for the future of medicine.

After battling heart disease for three years, Robert Van Kampen was among the thousands of Americans whose only alternative for treatment was a heart transplant. At any given time, approximately 3,500 to 4,000 patients are waiting for a heart or heart-lung transplant. Patients may wait months for a transplant, and more than 25 percent do not live long enough to receive one.

According to U.S.News & World Report, Loyola is the top ranked heart hospital in Illinois, boasting some of the highest volumes and best outcomes for heart surgery. With more than 600 heart transplants performed since 1984, the most in Illinois, Loyola has one of the most established and active programs in the United States.

Robert Van Kampen was scheduled for a heart transplant, despite the obstacles facing a transplant patient. “Loyola was willing to give Bob (Van Kampen) a chance when others wouldn’t," said his son-in-law, Scott Pierre. The wait proved too long, and Mr. Van Kampen passed away in October 1999.

His family was so pleased with Loyola’s responsiveness and care during Robert’s waiting period that they contributed $550,000 toward the creation of the Van Kampen Conference Center in the Cardiovascular Institute.

The Van Kampen Family

A Legacy of Faith & Hope

The Van Kampens were reaching for a glimmer of hope when they came to Loyola University Health System (Loyola) in 1999 seeking treatment for family patriarch, the late Robert Van Kampen, founder of Van Kampen Investments.

Mr. Van Kampen was in dire need of a heart transplant. He had gone through unsuccessful experimental treatments at another medical center and had been sent home to die. “The family had been through a horrific 2 ½ years watching Bob go through treatments that were taxing on him,” recalled Scott Pierre, Mr. Van Kampen’s son-in-law. “We were at a dark point when Bob arrived at Loyola, but the doctors and other health specialists we met there ignited our hope for life.”

Cardiovascular specialists evaluated Mr. Van Kampen and put him on the transplant list, but his condition quickly deteriorated. He underwent emergency surgery to implant an artificial heart. “The surgery went well, but my father in-law contracted a blood disease a couple of weeks later and died,” Mr. Pierre said.

Although the Van Kampen family’s experience with Loyola was limited to three weeks, in that short time the high caliber of compassionate care Loyola specialists give to their patients strongly impressed them. In appreciation of the care given to Mr. Van Kampen in his last weeks, his wife and the rest of the family — three daughters, three sonsin-law and 12 grandchildren — made a $2 million pledge to the Department of Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine (Stritch).

“My mother-in-law, Judith Van Kampen, really felt a sense of gratitude for the willingness of the entire Cardiology Department to take Bob in and give him hope,” Mr. Pierre recalled. “We’ve always been a family of faith, a family with hope in life eternal. But even though we don’t fear death, we wanted to offer Bob the chance to live as long as the Lord allowed.” surgery to implant an artificial heart. “The surgery went well, but my fatherin-law contracted a blood disease a couple of weeks later and died,” Mr. Pierre said.

The family made their donation in several increments, with the most recent gift of $958,000 given to support cardiothoracic research, including investigation by cardiothoracic surgeon Robert Love, MD, to reduce the rate of human heart and lung transplant rejection. In honor of the family’s overall philanthropic support, and specific research support, the laboratory where Dr. Love and his fellow investigators conduct their work will be named the Van Kampen Cardiothoracic Research Laboratory at Loyola University Health System.

“Mr. Van Kampen and his family went through a long ordeal with heart disease and came up against the limitations of our ability to overcome his highly sensitized immune response while he was awaiting transplantation,” said Dr. Love. “As difficult as that has been for the Van Kampens to bear, the family’s generosity in supporting our research will allow us to develop more tools with which to treat future patients in similar difficult situations.

Dr. Love is investigating methods to desensitize the immune response to Collagen V, which triggers an autoimmune response problematic for organ transplant patients. He explained that in both heart and lung disease, the injury process causes certain proteins involved in collagen structure, (normally hidden inside the architecture of collagen fibers) to become exposed to the immune system. These proteins, or Type V Collagen fibers, cause the body to mount an immune response designed to eliminate foreign tissue. Chronic, ongoing tissue rejection is the chief obstacle to long term survival for patients who have undergone heart and lung transplantation.

The Van Kampen’s latest gift will cover the cost of research equipment and tools, as well as support for existing faculty members and a new research technician. It also will finance ongoing research in cardiopulmonary failure.

In addition, the gift will fund surgical tools and educational activities, specifically the establishment of a research forum in Loyola’s Van Kampen Conference Facility to promote ongoing research cooperation in investigating heart and lung failure.

The Van Kampen Conference Center in the Stritch Cardiovascular Institute was created in 2005 with an earlier installment from the family’s $2 million gift. The center offers a significantly improved meeting space, state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment, more work stations with computer connections to accommodate staff and fellows, and head-lamp cameras worn by surgeons that record surgeries. The cameras were an especially important addition, as they allowed cardiovascular surgery staff and fellows to view these complex procedures, enhancing both post-graduate education and surgical care.

The Van Kampen family has a history of philanthropy and has given gifts to religious organizations spanning the globe. “We’ve given to ministries around the world, but this donation was a unique situation in that it hit closer to home,” Mr. Pierre said. 

Mr. Van Kampen initiated the philanthropic activities as a way to remind himself and his family of their obligations. “Bob always had a principle: ‘To whom much is given, much is required,’” Mr. Pierre recalled. “As a family, we’ve been blessed with a lot and feel we have the responsibility of being good stewards of that which is entrusted to us.”

For more information about making a gift for research in the Department of Thoracic & Cardiovascular Surgery, contact development.