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CARE Awards

The CARE Award is for employees who demonstrate the core values of UI Health, display a job performance that goes above and beyond expected performance, exhibit a patient-first mentality, are motivated and strive for excellence, contribute to the positive culture in the department and organization, and have made a difference in the life of a patient, visitor, or peer. Click here to submit a CARE Award nomination.

July 2021

Sharee McElroySharee McElroy
Department: Mile Square Humboldt Park

Employee submission:
"Sharee McElroy has been with UI Health for over 10 years. Sharee treats every single patient with compassion. She never stops helping until she knows that the problem is resolved. She often knows the patient by memory and can even remember patient phone numbers by memory! Because our clinic does not have a call center, she goes above and beyond to help our front desk person answer calls. She helps her team day in and out. I have never met a person as committed as Sharee. She is more than deserving of recognition and I appreciate the opportunity to nominate her."


5NE Surgical Team5NE Surgical Team
Department: 5NE Surgical

Employee submission:
"I cannot tell you how great everyone at UI Health has been. I am so grateful and, quite frankly, a bit surprised. You all should be proud to have developed a culture of caring and kindness. Everybody from the receptionist, to the nurses, the residents, and my doctor/surgeon was phenomenal. I wish I could remember all their names, especially those who prepared me for surgery – Dr. Ohlander, of course, is so very knowledgeable and he gets straight to the point.

My surgical resident, Dr. Danielle Velez, was the absolute best. She was so empathetic, understanding, and kind, and explained everything in detail. We even had a good laugh. Tell her dad she is in the right/very important field, and she has a very successful career ahead; The residents at the hospital, I believe they were Dr. Susan Talamini and Dr. Gabriel VandeWalle, were much like Dr. Velez, although I spent less time with them; My night nurse, Aeja, was on top of everything when I got to my room, and so personable; My overnight nurse, Ike, was the best. He got me out of bed as soon as I was ready at 2 AM. Ike inspired me to walk 52 laps (one for every year of my life). Ike has a heart of gold; I believe my day nurse was "Linley" and she was as wonderful as everyone, and processed my discharge quickly.

Since the moment I was in the car ride home, I was telling everyone how helpful and empathetic everyone at UI Health has been. I am so grateful it almost brings me to tears. No, it does bring me to tears because I know how challenging the pandemic has been on all of you and your families. I cannot say thank you enough. My nurse even made an extra call to my wife on my request just to tell her I love her. Please pass along my thanks to everyone!"


Graciela GonzalezGraciela Gonzalez
Department: Neuroscience Center

Employee submission:
"Graciela Gonzalez is an outstanding medical assistant that gives a 100% to her work; she will stop from taking her break and cut her lunch short to help her coworkers and doctors. When we are short staff, she does not need to be asked to help, come in early or stay late. She has stayed beyond her time, even though she has three little ones at home waiting for her. During COVID, she has had a rough time due to some family members being sick but she never made that an excuse not to smile and give her all every day.

She is a valuable employee, all of our team is happy, and we appreciate her every day."


6E Stepdown Team6E Stepdown Team
Department: 6E Stepdown

Employee submission:
"I had a really great team on the 6th floor. They took excellent care of me and I am thankful for their kindness. I came into the unit with many problems; I could not even open my eyes. I was scared and anxious but their focus was my overall wellbeing and road to recovery. I felt safe and truly cared for. When you think about teamwork, it requires effective communication, collaborative care coordination, and this team went beyond that. They brought me back to life and I will be forever grateful for all that they did for me during these difficult times."


June 2021

Val BirchVal Birch
Department: 4E NICU

Employee submission:
"For the past two months, she has worked tirelessly to adjust schedules of the nurses so that they may come to work and participate in education. This has involved numerous hours of texting, calling, juggling staffing numbers so that she rarely is able to get away from the computer. In addition, while Shirley has been on vacation, Val has been the nurse leader that has had to deal with very challenging family situations as well as critical care events on the unit. She has handled these difficulties with poise and grace. These past weeks have been very challenging for everyone on the unit, but Val's presence was very reassuring. She is an awesome leader!"


Kelsey BernardinKelsey Bernardin
Department: University Village Outpatient Physical Therapy

Employee submission:
"This last week we had a day where a clinician had to take the next day off because of childcare issues. Kelsey and another clinician stepped up to split up covering that clinician's intern and patients in addition to their own.
The following day, the intern could not come in because his grandfather had an emergent medical issue arise. On top of that, the opening front office staff member had to call in sick leaving the clinic without a front office worker to open the clinic or help manage caseload issues. To make matters more complicated, the clinic coordinator (me) wouldn't be making it into the clinic until just before opening to assist with handling the issue.

Kelsey jumped into action that morning, not only assisting to cover the front desk, check in patients, and answer phones; but she also coordinated figuring out coverage for or rescheduling of patients who could not be seen due to the intern being out. She did this without being prompted. Kelsey's ability to see a need, take initiative, come up with solutions, and follow through to ensure patients were managed appropriately and to alleviate what might have been extra stress for the clinic was an absolute blessing to the whole team.

I could go on and on about Kelsey as this is just a single example in a year's worth of examples of how Kelsey has quietly, without prompting, and without expecting recognition, stepped into gaps or needs for our clinic, for our patients, or for her teammates. She is a shining example of the perfect team player and I couldn't be prouder to call her a member of my team."


Briana DebiasiBriana Debiasi
Department: University Village Outpatient Physical Therapy

Employee submission:
"Brianna needs to be recognized for all of her team efforts, she is a great physical therapist and is always willing to help others on the team, she not only helps her colleagues, but she also helps the front desk staff with help answering the telephone, taking messages, scheduling patients, cleaning the waiting areas where patients sit, cleaning clipboards and most of all she welcomes the patients and gives them that excellent patient experience by making them feel special. Brianna has very positive energy and I love working with her. She is always so joyful!"


Melisha GradyMelisha Grady
Department: Radiology

Employee submission:
"Melisha Grady is a customer service assistant in radiology. A mother and her daughter drove over an hour for radiology services. Once the two arrived, Melisha found that there was indeed no order for the daughter. Melisha wasn't bothered that this was taking up some of her lunch hour – she reached out to multiple physicians regarding the order and was finally able to get the appropriate physician to place the order in EPIC. Even though the order was placed, it doesn't guarantee that the patient can get the procedure done as sometimes certain services are booked out for a while. Not only was Melisha able to get the order placed into EPIC, she also worked with the breast imaging center to get the patient seen the same day.

Imagine being a mother to a child who is in pain and in need of our services to only arrive to a facility an hour away from your home with no order or be left with the only option to schedule an appointment weeks out. This is the mindset Melisha carries with her - a mindset of empathy and compassion... With every patient, every time, she operates in empathy and carries our UI Health values with her on a daily basis.

The entire time, Melisha was onboarding a new employee. This new employee got to witness our values in action and was undoubtedly influenced and touched by this special moment."


Andy TranAndy Tran
Department: University Village Primary & Specialty Care

Employee submission:
"Andy goes above and beyond to ensure that every patient, provider, and coworkers at University Village has an exceptional experience. Some recent examples include: 1. Andy raises up EPIC performance issues consistently. He has developed collaborative relationships with providers and IT to ensure that issues are resolved quickly and efficiently. Working to improve EPIC and other workflow processes, Andy demonstrates his commitment to being a high-reliability organization. Andy has become the honorary unit "IT Guy". 2. Andy will accept any assignment and works hard to make sure it is completed well. He is often working away after his shift ends to make sure that prior authorizations are completed. He follows up and follows through on every assignment. 3. Thankfully we have had very few medical emergencies, but I have been so relieved that Andy has been here when they happen. He is extremely skilled and does a phenomenal job keeping patients calm while stabilizing them. He knows exactly what to do in a crisis and goes to great lengths to not only care for his patients but his team members as well. 4. If the team has had a tough week, Andy will bring in lovely (single-serve) baked items. He never announces it but will leave it in the lounge. Andy is an incredibly skilled Nurse, but most importantly he leads with his heart. He is kind, always looking to improve processes, and works incredibly hard to ensure that his patients, providers, and colleagues have everything they need."


May 2021

Jennifer BuragaJennifer Buraga
Department: 6East Stepdown

Employee submission:
"Jennifer Buraga provides patient care support as a rising figure on our floor. As an initiative to increase our patient engagement, she volunteered as a patient engagement champion. In addition, Jennifer is someone who has consistently committed to establishing a personal connection to her patients. She does some patient rounding on our floor to help communicate and address patient needs. Jennifer goes above and beyond this responsibility when you see the joy she has communicating to her patients on this level and being able to spend time with them.

One young patient in particular told her of his fear and loneliness in the hospital that he didn’t mention to his nurses. He verbalized to her that he wished he had his home stuffed animal. That day we saw Jennifer reaching out to all her outlets to see if we could provide him one. She was able to find a teddy bear used for patients for post op, and that bear gave him comfort for the rest of his stay. She is consistently recognized by her patients during Director patient rounds, specifically for her positive attitude, courtesy, respectfulness, and clear communication."


Zhuli SunZhuli Sun
Department: 6East Stepdown

Employee submission:
"I have had the privilege of working with Zhuli Sun, RN for several years now. I always find her a dedicated and expertly skilled nurse who can be relied on to care for our neurosurgery patients. There have been countless occurrences where she has made a difference in patient outcomes, provided guidance on resolving hospital administrative issues, and supported me in my role as nurse practitioner.

This past Easter Sunday was particularly busy on the 6E step-down unit. Nurse Sun was the charge nurse and I was once again impressed with her leadership. We had two patients that had a change in mental status and needed stat CT scans within a short time of each other. As always, she remained calm and took charge. She coordinated and facilitated speedy transport to the radiology department and volunteered herself to transport the patients. Throughout the day, I also observed her close involvement in the care of our patients needing special attention by guiding her staff nurses through difficult or unfamiliar situations and filling in when her staff was busy. For example, she took the time to feed my diabetic patient because I was worried about her intake and blood sugar. She also was instrumental in resolving a confusing consent issue so that the patient could get the required treatment.

I also want to mention her interest and invaluable assistance in caring for our long term Chinese speaking patient who is here alone without family. She assisted with bridging the language barrier and provided insight into the Chinese culture and healthcare system. This has been most helpful in assessing his needs, providing cultural appropriate care and devising a discharge plan.

What I love most about Nurse Sun is her unconditional willingness to assist me and my patients in any way she can with her clinical and administrative know how. Without a doubt she does this for all patients and services. I believe she deserves a special recognition for her dedication to the neurosurgery service and 6E."


April 2021

Danielle JacobsonDanielle Jacobson
Department: Bariatrics

Employee submission:
"After the slow down with the pandemic, the strike, loss of some of our team members, and the EPIC transition, the Bariatric program needed help with reorganization. Danielle has single-handedly taken this task upon herself to help us all. She has such an incredible understanding of the program and all of its intricacies, it is truly amazing. Her attention to detail has been beyond helpful in getting everything back on track. She understands what needs to be prioritized and gets things done. She is also extremely thorough. Currently, she has taken over job responsibilities that go above and beyond what she usually does on a daily basis. She is always accessible even when she is on vacation! I feel that as a team we all need to thank her and recognize all that she is doing for our program and our patients."


Sharnita WalkerSharnita Walker
Department: 7West WPLC

Employee submission:
"Please recognize Sharnita Walker for outstanding and compassionate behavior that embodies the UI Health core values. Sharnita is a dedicated staff on 7W WPLC. Her warm and compassionate demeanor ensures patients and staff feel comfortable when in her presence. She goes above and beyond to ensure her job responsibilities are met. She is attentive to patient needs and demonstrates a positive attitude when working with patients and team members. During a recent tragedy that occurred with a staff member, Sharnita facilitated contact between staff member and others on the unit. She created cards and posters for staff to show their thoughts and concern, which she then passed along. Sharnita went above and beyond to ensure that the staff member who was away knew how much the WPLC staff were thinking of her. Sharnita exudes positive, energy. Her friendliness contributes to a positive 7W WPLC work environment. Please award Ms. Sharnita Walker the CARE award for the compassion, warmth, respect and support she provides to patients and staff on 7W WPLC. The unit is lucky to have her."


Ariel Hill-ThomasAriel Hill-Thomas
Department: Children and Adolescent Center

Employee submission:
"We would like to nominate nurse Ariel for the Care Award. Ariel has initiated a Daily Activity Board in our clinic.

Every day, Ariel writes a question on the board and our clinic staff: MAs, MDs, nurses and other team members write their answers. Questions are about favorite food, music, movies etc.

The purpose of the board is for the team members to get to know each other better, to interact with each other more, and have a little fun. It is great! Thank you Ariel!!!"


Mile Square Pharmacy TeamMile Square Pharmacy Team
Department: Mile Square Pharmacy

Employee submission:
"The Mile Square Pharmacy Team has always been a group that could be counted to identify safety concerns in our pharmacies and IT infrastructure. Since going live with Epic, Pharmacists at Mile Square took the lead in identifying two separate important hazards for our patients. Beyond identifying these problems, they took the initiative to get involved more deeply, escalate issues to their managers and safety leaders, and actively pursue and participate in remedies to the problems they identified. The two safety issues I’m detailing below are just examples of the commitment of our Mile Square pharmacists. It should be noted that over the years of working with them, these pharmacists routinely approach their significant patient care responsibilities with the safety of our system of care delivery a paramount concern.

The first issue the pharmacists identified was that the instruction translations provided through the Epic Willow ambulatory system were not always available or lacked accuracy. They realized this could lead the patients to taking their medications incorrectly. Not only was this issue identified/resolved on a single prescription, but it was noticed as a pattern and escalated to our pharmacy management team. It became clear that an improvement in the translations would be necessary, and our Spanish speaking pharmacist stepped up to review all existing instructions that have been written on prescriptions, and working with our interpreters to make sure appropriate translations can automatically populate on our prescriptions going forward. This extra work is not a small commitment, but there was no hesitation for our pharmacist to step up for this role because she thought it was the right thing to do.

The second issue has to do with a prescription that was sent to the pharmacy that the pharmacist astutely identified as an error due to characteristics of the patient to which it was prescribed. They contacted the doctor, who confirmed it was written in error, and got the prescription changed to an appropriate prescription product. The result of that error could have led to an unintended pregnancy in the patient. Weeks later, the pharmacist noticed the same pattern, with the same prescription product. They contact the prescriber and again intervened to prevent the error from reaching the patient. After that, the pharmacist went above and beyond the call of duty to run a report that would eventually identify that this error had occurred in more than 10 patients over the preceding months, and he shared this investigation with safety leaders who could ensure that appropriate interventions would take place, and that the root cause of the error could be identified and corrected. 

Though these were two separate pharmacists involved in these cases, this pattern of behavior is what we would expect to see from the entire pharmacy team at Mile Square given a track record of commitment to safety. The actions of this team represent the values of UI Health, they have protected our patients from harm, and they are deserving of this significant recognition."


Nicholas DiazNicholas Diaz
Department: Information Services

Employee submission:
"Nick goes above and beyond all the time. He is my go to person after I have called the IS line and they either can't figure something out or say it's fixed and it's not.

My first encounters with Nick were related to my unique position as the NSQIP abstractor for the hospital and being one of the first in nursing to work from home. Nick worked tirelessly to solve my issues with VPN access, security clearance, lap top setup, etc. He has worked with NSQIP from the American College of Surgeons IT people to get programs required by them onto my computer.

No matter how frustrated I would become Nick always maintained a smile on his face and a good attitude. His response was, "we will figure this out Julie, I promise." With our transition to EPIC many of the same issues have happened and again he has worked to solve the issues.

The person who will replace me when I retire has started. She too, has needed the same types of access. Nick again was our go to person. He has the knowledge base to work with the IT people from NSQIP to get her computer setup as required. The work we do is confidential and related to quality. The work we do works to improve our patient outcomes. It is also very time sensitive. Nick understands this.

Just one example, this morning I would log into the VPN and then after a short time an error message regarding VPN security would pop up. I would then be unable to access our intranet and patient records. I contacted IS help by phone since I could not do it by intranet portal. Though the person tried they had no idea what needed to be done. It needed a system administrator was what he said.

I sent Nick screen shots and the incident number and he gave me the information needed to fix the problem in less than 60 seconds. I'm pretty sure that UI Health doesn't know what a stellar employee they have in Nick. He truly deserves to be recognized for the work he does. It is all behind the scenes but of the utmost importance."


March 2021

Elizabeth OremovichElizabeth Oremovich
Department: OCC 1E Cancer Center

Employee submission:
"Beth goes above and beyond to help out her co-workers and never complains. She is very patient when it comes down to teaching you how to do certain tasks. I am a new nurse navigator and Beth really welcomed me and showed me everything I needed to know to work with the Doctors from scheduling appointments for biopsies and labs to who to contact for expedited imaging. Beth patience and consideration for people goes a long way. When it comes to patient care her compassion and empathy is above all. She really enjoys what she does and it shows when she is taking care of her patients from giving them their treatments or calling them on the phone to schedule appointments. These last 3 and half months I have learned so much from her and she never gets tired or irritated with showing me how to do different things. Her patience and hard work shows in everything she does. I don't know where I would be if it wasn't for her guidance during these first few months in this new position. I just want to recognize her for everything she does at work and never complaining about anything, she just roles up her sleeves and just get it done in the right way. There should be more nurses like Beth her at UI health."


February 2021

Naida PerezNaida Perez
Department: Respiratory Services/OCC Cancer Center

Employee submission:
"Thanking you for the beautiful job that you did during the news interview on January 14th. During the interview, your appearance was very professional and relaxed. We appreciate how you maintained the information factual; but yet, focused with a positive view. You ended the interview with such a great smile, then you mentioned that you've gotten the vaccine with such optimism, it was awesome! You made us feel proud to be a part of UI Health; therefore, kudos to you for a job well done."


Dr. Lily ChengDr. Lily Cheng
Department: Internal Medicine/Emergency Medicine

Employee submission:
"I have worked with Dr. Cheng on many night shifts. On nights that many others would find daunting, Dr. Cheng maintains a sense of calm with her exceptional knowledge and sound clinical judgment. She sets priorities and provides direction for the interns, RN’s and RT’s. She is an excellent diagnostician. She collaborates with the entire team to provide her patients with the best possible care. She has an unrelenting curiosity. If there is something she is unfamiliar with, Dr. Cheng makes time to look it up. Dr. Cheng empathizes with her patients and makes every effort to include them in their plan of care. She takes the time to speak with family members regardless of the time of day and what she has to do. One night, we had a patient who was nearing the end of his life. His family was at the bedside. Unfortunately, the patient’s son had a difficult time coming up to the unit so the daughter went down to get him. By time they both returned, the patient had passed. The family requested that the patient not be taken down to the morgue but instead have the funeral home pick up the remains from our unit. When the funeral home arrived, NRO turned them away because there was no one to complete the death certificate. The family was told the remains would need to go to the morgue. Dr. Cheng spoke with NRO multiple times and finally a death certificate was completed. The funeral home was asked to come back to pick up the remains. They did so, but charged the family an extra $350 dollars for the return trip. Dr. Cheng was so upset by the disservice the family had to endure during this time. She asked who she could address her concerns to and was given the name of the CNO but was told that probably nothing would be done. Dr. Cheng wrote to the higher ups and informed them of what transpired. She was able to have the hospital pay for the funeral home’s return trip. Dr. Cheng is one of the most conscientious and motivated physicians I know."


January 2021

Lisa TibbsLisa Tibbs
Department: Patient Access/OCC Cancer Center

Employee submission:
"Lisa Tibbs is another unsung hero at UI Health. Her work is behind-the-scenes, but critical in getting our most vulnerable patients access to timely care. Lisa is so good at what she does, she often gets pulled in 1,000 different directions. She is currently one person doing the work of three+ due to staffing shortages. She holds herself to the same high standards, despite there only being 24 hours in a day. Lisa deserves a CARE award because she goes above and beyond in all that she does. She is a lifeline for clinic nurses scrambling to get procedures scheduled ASAP in potentially life or death situations. Lisa never says no, even when it's not her job. We sincerely appreciate her and all her hard work on behalf of our patients."


Hilario LechugaHilario Lechuga
Department: Care Coordination

Employee submission:
"Mr. Lechuga deserves a special shout out for his dedication and devotion to one of our neurosurgery patient. This patient has severe neurological deficits, is verbally impaired and speaks no English. Discharge planning for the last 6 months has been very challenging due to lack of funding and no family in the US. For month now Mr. Lechuga has been promoting communication with the family in China between family/staff and family/patient. He frequently sees this patient and provides stimulation, interaction and companionship. Today I observed a lengthy and involved interaction where Mr. Lechuga had interpreter and son and wife via internet. He demonstrated to the family how much the patient has improved clinically. He engaged the patient in different activities and noted the varies positive responses. There are many communication barriers with this patient and his family yet Mr. Lechuga is undeterred and makes a special ongoing effort to break those barriers. I strongly believe that the patient has improved because of this and the family benefits from his updates. Thank you!"


Dr. H. Steven SimsDr. H. Steven Sims
Department: Otolaryngology

Patient Submission:
"I have been very fortunate to have been under the care of Dr. Sims since August 2020. I had been experiencing hoarseness and vocal fatigue for nearly 5 months before I met him and feel so blessed to have found this wonderful doctor. I first visited UI Health in August 2020 and made an appointment with a general ENT because I was unsure where to begin. This ENT read over my case and went to get Dr. Sims because she knew he was better suited for my case. He came to see me this day, even though it was his telehealth visit day and not seeing patients on campus. He was able to diagnose my issue right away and helped me make a plan for care. I ended up coming back a month later to see Dr. Sims and was able to come again on his only telehealth day, but he made it work knowing that I lived nearly an hour away and was going to be in Chicago for another appointment that day. He went above and beyond multiple times to make sure I could get appointments to see him that worked with my schedule. He was also always very responsive any time I contacted him outside of my appointments. He made sure I had answers to my questions and helped me feel at ease with my medical needs. I have seen Dr. Sims several times since my first visit with him and recently had surgery with him to fix a vocal cord issue. He was always so caring, patient, kind, and took all the time I needed to answer all my questions and concerns. He knew how anxious I was about my surgery since it was my first surgery and he came to see me beforehand to make sure I was feeling okay and to see if I had any questions. He genuinely cares about the well-being of his patients, medically and personally. I also am now following up with voice therapy and Dr. Sims made sure that connection was made and that I was continuing on my recovery. Dr. Sims is compassionate, respectful, friendly, and very down to earth. I am so grateful for him and all he did to take care of me and address all my needs."


Armando MartinezArmando Martinez
Department: Emergency Services

Employee submission:
"I would like to commend Armando for being a fabulous nurse and a great team player. This past evening was very rough, with 40 patients in the waiting room, many sick patients that needed rooms, and many COVID patients boarding. Armando was very helpful with getting patients TT'd, helping Laura or me see people in the hallway, getting patients roomed, drawing labs, giving meds, advocating for sick patients to get roomed, etc. It was not until about 10:30 pm that I realized that Armando was assigned to be a greeter. He really went above and beyond to help us take care of patients on this particular evening, and we are so grateful!"


Jocelyn MallardJocelyn Mallard
Department: Pediatrics

Employee submission:
""Ms. Mallard is always so helpful. She goes above and beyond for my daughter and I am sure for many other patients. She has been an anchor to us when we are struggling and always goes above and beyond her job description! It has truly been a pleasure to meet her and get the opportunity to have her as my daughter’s nurse practitioner. Recently when my daughter was suffering from depression in the hospital, she met me outside and I had no words. We walked and she knew exactly what to say at that moment that was so hard for my daughter and our family. The words of wisdom that she gives provide the essence of caring with compassion that we all need when we have a family member suffering with such a chronic illness. She not only works with patients but she also makes sure the family is okay. She has been such an inspirational human being in our lives. UI Health is definitely very lucky to have individuals like her working at their hospital and clinics."


December 2020

Tawanna Daniels & Maricarmen HerreraTawanna Daniels & Maricarmen Herrera
Department: Psychiatry

Employee submission:
"Maricarmen Herrera is a super user in Epic for the Adult clinic and Tawanna Daniels is the super user for our Child clinic. Both of these women did an amazing job of sharing information as they were receiving it from their training. They brought back the information to the various teams within the department of Psychiatry the frontline and Intake. They kept everyone informed, engaged, and motivated to learn Epic. They worked long hours after their shift as well as on the weekends. They sent out e-mails daily with valuable information on how to do things in Epic. They constantly reiterated to the staff that we were all learning this together, and that we would all eventually get very good with knowing how to do Epic. Even after Epic went live, they both offered extra WebEx training classes, which were a tremendous help to everyone.

I would like to thank them both for their patience and understanding as we continue to learn the full scope of Epic.  In addition, their willingness to continue to help with the many still unanswered questions regarding Epic."


Katheryn CloningerKatheryn Cloninger
Department: Women and Children

Employee submission:
"I think Kathy deserves recognition because she went over and beyond to provide and assist me with lactation materials that I did not have access to. I am a staff member that left all nursing materials (breast pump, bottles, bags etc.) at home. I was in pain from engorgement and I did not know that the delivery unit would assist me with my problem. I explained my situation to Kathy and she immediately gave me all the materials I needed to pump my breast milk. She explained how to use the equipment thoroughly and she walked me to different places on the unit that required access. She made me feel comfortable, calm and relieved that I was able to pump milk for my baby. Being in pain and wondering how I would complete my job duties while being engorged was a huge stress taken off me thanks to Kathy's professional and compassionate spirit. I never met her until the day she assisted me with this issue. I appreciate her support and efforts that allowed me to pump breast milk for my baby!"


November 2020

NICU TeamNICU Team
Department: 4W NICU 

Employee submission:
"I'd like to share how well the staff worked together yesterday as we admitted 5 NICU babies. Four of these babies were admitted in a span of 1 hour. Needless to say, our staffing was stretched, but the job was done with professionalism, efficiency and great care for the wellbeing of our patients. The staff helped each other out and the unit ran like a well-oiled machine. Special thanks to Hazel, Carol, Liene, Karyna and Leah who were the admission nurses. 

Thanks to Tristine, Vivian, Christina, Dina, Jeff, Rosie, Jibi, Alex, Jeanette and Susama for all the help. Thank you to the Fellows; Dana, Amy and Tony for keeping the nursing staff updated and for the smooth resuscitation and admission to NICU. I'm sure you are proud of your staff, and I am honored to work alongside all of these caring professionals."


Claudia AlvarezClaudia Alvarez 
Department: Laboratory/Pathology Services

Employee submission:
"Claudia consistently goes above and beyond to provide excellent patient care. She will not give up until a problem is solved. Claudia performs thorough work. Recently when rooming a patient she noted he had a temperature of 99.7, higher than his normal. She rechecked his temperature and it was still slightly elevated. During conversation with the patient she asked if he'd been feeling ill lately or if anything had changed since his last visit. The patient responded "no". While continuing to the room the patient Claudia noted a large, abnormally appearing abscess on the patient's hand. Claudia notified the clinic RN. 

Prior to going on her lunch break Claudia asked the MD if she saw the patient's abscess. The MD was unaware and re-evaluated the patient and determined the patient needed to be seen in the ED and was sent from clinic. Later that day Claudia followed up on the patient to ensure he went to the ED and noticed he did not. She called the MD who indeed wanted the patient to go to the ED. She phoned the patient and informed him the importance of going to the ED. This patient is immunocompromised and it's important an infection doesn't spread. The patient did not convince Claudia so she called his daughter, his emergency contact, and expressed the importance of the ED visit. In the end, the patient went to the ED and was appropriately cared for. 

This is a direct example of how Claudia advocates for the patient and will not quit until they are fully cared for. She is a role model to her peers and excels at her job daily. Claudia is a strong asset to the Hem/Onc team."


Sharrone DavisSharrone Davis 
Department: Physical Therapy

Patient submission:
"Sharrone Davis brings energy and life-giving autonomy into her practice. I came to her feeling defeated after a decade of inadequate physical therapy and chiropractor care. I was young and relatively healthy, yet pelvic instability had me struggling with sharp pain and recurrent knee injuries after running short distances. 

Sharrone focused on making a plan that met my physical activity goals. Despite the barriers of COVID-19, she tailored a plan that achieved effective diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring through the telehealth platform. 

She was the first physical therapist that sought to understand my goals, strengths, and desired outcomes. I came to her wanting to run a marathon, but was battling the pain of recurrent knee injuries. In May 2020, we created a plan that started with glut strengthening and slowly progressed to short walk/run increments. 

On October 17, 2020, I ran my first marathon, and I ran it without pain. I am so thankful for the beauty, endurance, and mental willpower of 26.2 miles. More than that, I am ever so grateful for healthcare workers that come along side you as a peer, that support and encourage you. Let me end with something she said to me, something I have now repeated to countless others struggling with their challenges. "The body is so amazing, when one muscle is weak, other muscles can compensate for it." Sharrone Davis empowered me to run towards my potential and to not let fear slow me down."


Melissa AnguloMelissa Angulo
Department: Neurosurgery/ICU Stepdown   

Employee submission:
"Melissa has been our unit manager for almost 2 years. She has gone above and beyond for her staff by enabling us to perform the highest quality of care to our patients. She is quick to respond to her nurses' needs and concerns and advocated for improved staffing for the unit to alleviate the unit burnout. If there are any issues within our unit or other departments, she takes responsibility to resolve the problem immediately. She assures that we have the right equipment and tools at hand to provide the care to our patients deserved. 

In addition, Melissa doesn't shy away from stepping up and helping out on the unit. For example, she has participated in a codes, or helped calming down a confused, combative patient, or picked up the trash if necessary to keep the unit clean. She does not shy away from helping "hands on" when she sees a nurse or patient struggling. 

Furthermore, Melissa wants her staff to be safe and happy as well as to grow professionally. She always recognizes staff for their achievements, points our educational opportunities, encourages staff to become certified RNs, and supports nurses to pursue higher educational attainment. 

She truly shows great leadership by being transparent, a great role model, and involving her staff into shared decision making to improve workflow on the unit. On behalf of 6ESD, we want to express how grateful we are to have such a great leader who we can trust and know that she cares and has the best interest at heart for her patients and staff."


October 2020

Dennis ChevalierDennis Chevalier
Department: Care Coordination 

Employee submission:
"Dennis has been an absolute rock star both during the COVID pandemic and the latest challenges we have experienced. He has managed the patient COVID housing and served as our liaison with the city of Chicago, responding to inquiries day and night. In a matter of weeks, he transitioned out several very long term patients through arrangements with air ambulances, foreign governments, and families who are at a great distance. And most recently, he has co-facilitated the Medicine Multi-disciplinary Rounds while continuing to fill in on various units for absent social workers. 

There was recently a patient who had a large and very challenging family who requested a transfer. Dennis worked diligently with the family to provide them information and keep them abreast, as well as contacted every hospital in the region to attempt a transfer, long into the night. He even was the primary responder to several Code BERTS involving this family, including on days he should have been on his way out of the door--like 6:30pm on a Friday! In addition; Dennis has stepped in to pinch-hit in a variety of ways due to his deep institutional knowledge--everything from covering the desk, to completing birth certificates, to being a Super User, to just offering his general wisdom. 

He has adapted to the unpredictable nature of this year with aplomb, all the while adjusting and elevating his new role. His contributions are immeasurable." 


Emma LiwanagEmma Liwanag
Department: Nursing Rehabilitation

Patient submission:
"I just want to tell you how deeply appreciative I am of Emma as my Nursing Tech. I am here a lot and openly known as a "pain in the butt" kind of patient, but I have attempted to redeem any behavior as I would have been dead without each and every nurse & tech who has taken care of me within the last year especially Emma Liwanag. 

Emma is amazing. I have mobility issues right now and Emma has helped me to deal with them in a very positive way as the doctors tell me I'm sick and need to stay here to get better. Emma has helped me to remain "unhostile" to blood draws and remaining in bed. She has been polite, non-judgmental, and very very helpful in everything she has done for me. She has been kind to me each step of the way and even brought me reheated dinner when I fell asleep while eating my dinner and coffee. 

I wish I could clone her positive energy for my trip home when I am discharged. She has never been mean or unpleasant to me or made me feel less than. She is a testament to what nurses should be like at UI Health. Thank you very much!"


WaConda CuringtonWaConda Curington
Department: Children and Adolescent Center

Employee submission:
"We had a patient who's visit got prolonged, the patient's mother parked in valet parking, when the mother left our clinic, the valet parking was closed already. The mother came back to the clinic and asked for help and WaConda took it upon herself to help this family. Initially she went to the security guard, later she made multiple calls and finally she was informed that keys will be available at the cashier office at the Wood Parking lot. WaConda even escorted the family to the cashier office to make sure they are able to get their keys and go home. Thank You WaConda for going above and beyond to help this family!"


Maya CamparaMaya Campara
Department: Pharmacy Practice    

Employee submission:
"Maya continues to be instrumental in our quest to keep our patients and staff knowledgeable, competent, and safe while caring for our transplant patients by creating guidelines, protocols, and order sets education revision, and skills development for our team. Maya consistently puts the needs of others above her own. Her humility in doing so sets the example of what servant leadership truly means. Every action that Maya takes is out of her intrinsic motivation to serve others. She has a positive influence on her peers and the professional growth of our nurses. 

We fortunate to have an exceptional leader such as Maya Campara representing us and the organization. Maya is extremely knowledgeable and experienced in her field. She is a go-to person for any transplant medication-related question. She has excellent interpersonal skills with colleagues and patients. She is an excellent teacher - knows how to make patients and staff understand complicated medication regimens. She is very organized and efficient. Maya has helped me so many times in my role as a discharge planner and is always available to assist with any problem that arises. One example of MANY was a kidney transplant patient that transferred back to New York and ran out of his blood thinner medication. I quickly called the clinic, reached Maya and without hesitation she called the Walgreens in Brooklyn, NY and called in a life-time prescription and SAVED the day!! She is always available and never questions or hesitates to help when needed. 

Maya truly deserves this high honor award!!!"


Micheal ConwellMicheal Conwell
Department: Patient Accounts

Employee submission:
"My staff have mentioned that you are without a doubt one of the staff members that is consistently always available to help, at the drop of a hat. You truly helped me solve a clinic/patient issue yesterday and you followed up until the issue was resolved. I truly appreciate your dedication and support. 

This morning I spoke with the patient and she was so relieved that the billing situation had been resolved. She expressed that she truly could not afford to pay the bill that she knew was an error; but, would have paid otherwise, to assure that she wouldn't be sent to a collection agency. She was so incredibly happy and I wanted to make sure to share how wonderful it felt to make our patients feel content. 

A heart filled thanks from the Surgery Clinic, 3F." 


Javier Sedillo Javier Sedillo
Department: Laboratory/Pathology Services  

Employee submission:
"I want to thank Javier Sedillo on behalf of Pathology, and on behalf of all specimen submitting units across UI Health. 

There have been specimen collection and labeling issues during the transition to Epic; however, Javier's Epic support has been outstanding and truly above and beyond the call of duty. As our Quality Specialist in Pathology, we expect his support; but, he personally visited (and continues to assist) multiple units across the hospital who were experiencing specimen collection and submission issues to address the root cause. Throughout the last 3 weeks of Epic go-live and the many months leading to September 12, he has deeply cared about our unit's success and the success of others, which is evident by his actions. 

He is truly dedicated to UI Health and our transition to Epic would have been much harder without him!"


September 2020

Kevin LeeDr. Kevin Lee
Department: Internal Medicine

Employee submission:
"I wanted to take a quick moment to share with you a note-worthy individual, among the sea of support we have been getting from everyone, who have been AMAZING.  I wanted to let you know that Dr. Kevin Lee, Internal Medicine Resident PGY2, and his family along with their army of supporters; have donated (by my conservative estimate) 5000+ surgical masks and 400-500 N95 masks. 

Nearly every week, either Dr. Lee or a member of his family have dropped off mask donations at the College of Dentistry.  Jacqueline Berger and her staff have even met Dr. Lee on campus to pick up donations.  I know his family intend to continue to gather donations to benefit the UIH family.  Not only is Dr. Lee supporting the COVID response from a clinical perspective but from a humanitarian perspective as well.  He is one of many residents who have stepped up and gone above and beyond amongst all of our UIH Heroes."


Kristin MillerDr. Kristin Miller  
Department: Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine

Employee submission:
"Dr. Miller is an exceptional physician who always puts her patients first. She can always be counted on to be a team player and provide assistance when asked. Recently Dr. Miller came into clinic early to see a patient who was not established with her. Her patients all adore her and some prefer to wait to see her if she had a clinic cancelled.

We are very happy to have such a wonderful physician working with us!"


Rodessa LapuzRodessa Lapuz  
Department: Emergency Services

Employee submission:
"On Sunday, August 23rd, there were 2 sexual assault cases in the ED. The department was experiencing some challenges in staffing, and the need to complete the SA kits compounded these issues. Rodessa was called in from home to complete the kits, and she willingly and graciously agreed to do so.

Thank you, Rodessa for going above and beyond and sacrificing your time off to care for these patients."


Enrico BenedettiDr. Enrico Benedetti
Department: Hospital Transplant

Patient submission:
"From the very first meeting, Dr. Benedetti guided us and educated us about the ins and outs of kidney transplantation. His confident yet compassionate manner gave us the courage to forge ahead, knowing that with his expertise and professionalism we were in good hands.

The surgery was accomplished with the utmost professionalism, even changing protocol midway as the situation demanded it. Our father's post-surgery care was complicated and Dr. Benedetti's dedication throughout was unbelievable. He never gave up on our father, and constantly re-examined the caliber of his treatment and care. He even went so far as to visit him every single day to ensure that his situation was constantly monitored.

Dr. Benedetti has always been at the cutting edge of the latest advances in the field of transplantation. We always felt confident that we were getting the most advanced treatment available today. May he be blessed with health and many more years of success and the ability to change even more lives for the better!"


July - August 2020

Stefanie GuthStefanie Guth  
Department: Emergency Services

Employee submission:
Stefanie cared for a patient in the ED that had been abused by her boyfriend. She was afraid to return home after her visit here, but her baby was at home with her boyfriend. Stefanie called Social Work, but they weren't available onsite. Stefanie then Googled a domestic violence shelter and called the intake person at WINGS to try to secure placement for the patient and her baby.

She then spent time with the patient working on creating a safety plan. She programmed the number for WINGS into the patient's phone under another name, and together they worked out how the patient could take the bus home, then call the police for an escort, pick up her baby, and call the hotline to be picked up for shelter placement. They worked through the scenario multiple times until the patient felt confident and secure. The patient was provided with a bus pass, and Stefanie escorted her out of the ED to the bus stop. Please recognize her for the excellent care and compassion that she showed this patient."


Ayo BodundeAyo Bodunde  
Department: Adolescent Psychiatry

Employee submission:
"For the period of a month, while working light duty in C100, Ayo would use her lunch time to retrospectively collect, compare and contrast the admission and discharge BMI data of all CATU patients in 2018. What she found was shocking. CATU patients were on average, gaining 10lbs during their hospitalization. In the most extreme cases patients gained upwards of 40lbs!

Ayo presented this information to dietary, and with the help of dietician Ruth Kross, the director of dietary, Mary Niewinski and the CATU kids on the unit, a new CATU healthy menu was created. The CATU healthy menu incorporates healthy food options on the patients’ menus and a high frequency of healthy snacks (e.g. apples and peanut butter, hummus and chips, grapes and cheese, etc.) The results of the CATU Healthy menu, coupled with increased physical activity among CATU patients, has resulted in our overweight CATU kids (who have utilized the CATU healthy menu) losing an average of 6-8lbs. This is a very big deal! She is a huge asset to the CATU team, and I am grateful for her impact on the unit."


Lee Anne ValeroLee Anne Valero
Department: Oncology

Employee submission:
"I know we all know how wonderful Lee Ann is, but I just wanted to reiterate how hard she is working to make Epic successful in the oncology space. Every provider and pharmacist goes through her… it is a lot of communication and following up, work that she definitely did not sign up for but does it anyway. Lee Ann is herding cats and doing it exceptionally well. I manage my other CTs that have been doing this for years. With Lee Ann, she is independent and I trust her to do what is right. Every. Single. Time.

Teaching her peers this past Saturday was no easy feat. I have been in those shoes – to teach your manager, preceptors, lunch buddies, nurses you may or may not like – it is a difficult task and from what I understand, the feedback was amazing. The analysts and I all agree – the success of this project for oncology – how her testing has saved us from so many IS tickets at go live, how coaching the physician trainers and guiding the physician sessions has helped your providers be prepared so that the nurses have less downstream ramifications – the countless other tasks we have asked her to do – your department is doing amazingly well because of this one infusion nurse. I am excited to see her in conversion and abstraction. "


Ambulatory Surgery COVID Testing TeaAmbulatory Services COVID Testing Team
Department: Ambulatory Services

Employee submission:
"The COVID Team consists of 4 Nurses and 2 MAs consistently at the test site. Since March 25th, they have been providing COVID testing to patients of UI Health, as well as employees at one point. They have been a consistent team that is reliable and truly dedicated in providing testing for patients during this pandemic. They are outside whether it is raining/storming, snowing, 90+ degree weather for full days 5 days a week.

As COVID has been changing, they have adapted to the change in workflows and volumes to ensure they are able to service the organization in this mass testing. They have been a group that has taken pride in their work and have supported each other as a team during this difficult transition of roles."


Care Award Jonathan RadostaDr. Jonathan Radosta 
Internal Medicine

Employee submission:
"Dr. Radosta has always been an exceptional doctor and leader. The words "class act" specifically come to my mind these past few months. He has led us all through these changes (Epic, Covid, Telemedicine, etc…) with professionalism, calmness, and leadership. We could not have expected any of these things to occur in a lifetime as physicians and they have all happened in a matter of a few months. 

Personally, Dr. Radosta has answered every email, phone call, and correspondence from me promptly no matter how busy he is.  He has taken the time out of his day (and weekend) to help me and I am just one physician.  He takes time to explain things and has really gone above and beyond.  I truly can't express all that he has done.  I have coworkers that feel the same way so I can imagine that he has done more than we all realize."


Gian Diaz Rodriguez – CAREDr. Gian Diaz Rodriguez 
OB/GYN

Employee submission:
"Dr. Diaz Rodriguez has gone above and beyond to support the midwifery model of care this month! I am so grateful to be on a collaborative team with him, especially for the past few cases the last two weekends. I have needed to call upon him for CNM-MD collaboration, with uncertain need for transfer or what, in both cases, was just him being nearby for support. He was a patient and supportive collaborator in both instances, and when both babies were born vaginally, he was a vocal cheerleader for the family. Thank you, Dr. Diaz Rodriguez, for your advocacy and support this month!"


JaJuan Moore - CAREJaJuan Moore 
Emergency Services

Employee submission:
"When JaJuan comes to work he comes in every day ready to hit the ground running! He is always a team player and never hesitates to jump in to help anyone. I have rarely seen JaJuan sit still since he started working in the emergency department, he is always stocking something or cleaning during down times. It is always nice to find out JaJuan is working because I know I can rely on him."   
Other recognitions include:

  • "He is a dedicated employee, who goes out of his way to help."
  • "It is a pleasure to work aside Jajuan, his skills set and knowledge is very extensive and valuable to the emergency room."
  • "Never needs to be asked to do anything because he has already done it. VERY tidy!"

Megan Kinney - CARE Megan Kinney 
Emergency Services/Social Work

Employee submission:
"Megan is an amazing asset on night shift.  She is always ready to lend a helping hand, from coordinating 311/housing help, obtaining clothing or just answering questions about various resources.  One amazing thing that she does is help with our psych transfers!  The process can be long and arduous at times and requires quite a bit of oversight.  Not only does she put in countless hours arranging a safe transfer, she ensures that no detail gets lost in the process. Once she has an accepting facility, she helps coordinate the nurse to nurse report and then turns over an organized folder with every piece of paper that is needed, including labeled copies for us, the ambulance and the receiving hospital.  It is so helpful!  I feel spoiled every time I have the opportunity to work with Megan. She has helped so many in their time of need and always goes the extra mile to help out the nursing staff."


Robin Ramirez – CARERobin Ramirez 
Care Coordination

Employee submission:
"Robin has been a team player, caring advocate, and always accountable, highly productive member of the UI Health family as long as I've known her. She is consistently thanked by her colleagues every single month during leader rounds for being a consistently helpful, never-say-can't, and exceedingly industrious patient advocate in every interaction. During the recent crises, she has exceeded expectations at every juncture.

It's difficult to distill the above praise into discrete examples, only because Robin has examples to cite day after day. I could review her workload for yesterday, and find an example of where she went above and beyond, ensured patient concerns and needs were acknowledged and communicated to critical stakeholders in a respectful, caring way, and our most at-risk patients ultimately benefitted tremendously."