Across the Loyola University Health System physicians, nurses and staff are bringing joy and spreading cheer this holiday season. As a health system we are given the unique opportunity to bring hope and peace to many who are facing some of life’s darkest moments.
Members of the acute rehabilitation unit and physical therapy team were given one of those chances and truly made it a Merry Christmas for a patient and his family.
Though only in his mid 40s, Octavio Guerrero and family faced a dark future when a major stroke ravaged his body. Guerrero was in the hospital for two months requiring surgery, recovery and weeks of rehabilitation. The father of three young boys and the primary bread winner left the family in difficult financial times.
When he came to the acute rehabilitation unit he couldn’t sit unsupported and it required two people to help him stand.
“He and his wife were such hard workers. They were both active in the rehabilitation sessions and really took to heart what we were teaching them,” said Heather Scholten, physical therapist.
After six weeks of rehabilitation Guerrero was able to walk with a hemi-walker, climb stairs with a hand rail and transfer from sitting to standing without assistance.
“The family was grateful to just have Octavio home, but during one session we realized they were concerned about being unable to provide Christmas for their boys,” said Scholten. “They are such a wonderful family we just wanted to do something more.”
The Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department became Santa and his elves donating gifts for Guerrero’s sons such as toys, clothes and school supplies. They supplied gift cards for groceries and even medical equipment to help his transition home including a hemi-walker, commode and transfer tub bench.
The morning Guerrero was being released the staff surprised the family with the gifts.
“I am so proud of what they did,” said Paul Gorski, administrative director for orthapaedics and rehabilitation. “It’s a reflection of what we do here every day. We provide amazing medical care but go beyond that to look at the whole person to see how we can make their entire life better.”
The essence of Santa permeated through the halls of the Neiswanger Institute for Bioethics as well. For several years faculty and staff have collected the money they would have spent on gifts to each to make it a merrier Christmas for a family in need.
“It’s so wonderful to know we are giving to people who really need and appreciate the gifts. What a joy to know we are making this Christmas a little brighter for a family,” said Robbin Hiller, bioethics education coordinator.
After delivering Thanksgiving baskets one of the Stritch School of Medicine students shared that a family was not prepared for the cold Chicago winter ahead. Sister Brenda Eagan, university ministry director, knew of a Santa in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation.
Dr. Alex Ghanayem helped three families stay warm this winter. Gifts included sweaters, coats, hats, mittens, scarves and a family-friendly game.
These are only a sampling of the amazing generosity that flows throughout the health system during the holidays and throughout the year.