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CARE Individual Awards 2014

Brian CollinsBrian Collins
Information Services

This morning the AIX - upgrade went very well and was well received by the pathologists, department directors and the managers of entire Pathology Departments; I was also pleased to see that the IS DBM team accomplished its strategic goals. I want to personally thank you for your professional and personal dedication that you directly lead with all the assigned project resources to stay on track and on target to meet their goals.

Without your personal devotion and willingness to step up and, despite some push back from team members, you persist in keeping the AIX IS team on track; the project would certainly have strayed off course. That would have been bad for the entire pathology division.

Specifically, the scheduling of project meetings with a specific purpose, your use of a project mile stones with time allotments and responsibilities, and your excellent technical skill sets facilitated and brought confidence that aided the IS DBM team to a successful AIX Project progresses.

On the creative side, the coordination with all assigned project resources, (internal and external) and the in depth pre-validation of the steps taking to ensure a successful AIX upgrade was excellent foresight; That was paramount to the overall success of this project. Again, thank you Brain. The AIX – Upgrade LAB A, Lab B project was well worth your time and investment and, on behalf of the pathology and the LABIT team, I want you to know that we really appreciate your efforts.

Charisse FranklinCharisse Franklin
Quality & Accreditation

It is a privilege to write this letter for Charisse Franklin. I have worked with Charisse for over three years and am very impressed with her dedication, enthusiasm, integrity and hard work. Charisse shares her gifts, talents and expertise with others and makes extraordinary contributions daily in her role as a team leader on the BOOST project designed to reduce hospital readmissions. The implementation of a BOOST project, especially the Teach-Back training sessions, required enormous numbers of hours spent training our nurses. On many occasions Charisse would stay late to deliver the training to the evening and night shift nurses to ensure that all staff received the interactive, live training. A questions and answer period followed the 2-hour training. Though this would add another 15-40 minutes to the session, it was important to get nurse understanding and buy-in, so Charisse and the BOOST team would spend the additional time. Charisse would stay up late teaching and return the next morning to carry out her day-to-day duties in the Quality Department. She went above and beyond in ensuring the BOOST project is rolled out house-wide by the end of June 2014. Her dedications and hard work are key contributions to reduce hospital readmissions. Charisse possess personal integrity, dedication to her work, and a team spirit which I believe are worthy of this award.

Lawrence WillisLawrence Willis
Health Information Management
Staff Nomination

I have found that Lawrence demonstrates caring, exceptional professionalism and actions that embody what it means to believe in and act on issues that come to him from the Physical and Occupational Therapy Departments. Lawrence possesses many outstanding characteristics. He uses his skills and talents to deliver to the therapists and Insurance Specialist personnel the information needed in the patients' medical records in an efficient and effective manner. He has helped to secure approvals no many occasions from insurance companies to provide uninterrupted care for our patients. Lawrence has adjusted his schedule at short notice to meet with representatives of Aetna Better Health in brainstorm efforts to find workable solutions with other staff on new processes for implementation and new strategies for our patients. He has provided workable solutions to problems with referrals and other issues until more permanent solutions could be implemented electronically. He is available to interact with the staff and therapists in a professional manner that makes us all feel that we make up a winning team.

I have had a recent experience with HFS (Public Aid) that Lawrence helped in resolving. Laws and criteria are constantly changing in the Health Care industry and in order to maintain a constant revenue flow and sustainability for our department we need more people like Lawrence. His dedication to problem solving issues involving UI Health medical records and referrals for securing PT and OT authorizations enable us to provide excellent customer service every day. His expertise and his professionalism give me the impression that he welcomes the opportunity to serve the staff and patients at UIH. I'm glad that Lawrence plays on our winning team.

Maria LopezMaria Lopez
Patient & Guest Experience Office
Visitor Nomination

I write to congratulate and inform you on the excellent work of a member of your staff, Maria Lopez in her position of Patient Experience Navigator.  I was called on a Sunday morning by the Nursing staff that a close friend was being released after being in the hospital for ten days in Intensive Care.  Hurrying to the hospital, I soon learned that the valet Parking Lot where he had parked his car when he saw his doctor was closed on Sunday.  Also there was no in-hospital transportation of wheel chairs on a Sunday.  A nurse called and found Ms. Lopez to help us out.

With great efficiency and much calling around since the hospital did not seem to be staffed for discharges on a Sunday, Ms. Lopez executed the following:

  • Called around until she found someone to come in and open the Valet parking garage.
  • Found a wheel chair and someone from hospital transportation to help us to get down to the front door.
  • Found someone from the garage to pick us up to drive us to the Valet parking garage.
  • Found someone to let us in and see us to his car.

I cannot tell you what a relief and help all of this was when faced with no other support than one harried busy nurse, who had her hands full with patients. Please see that this is placed in her records or she is recognized in some way.  Your patient Experience Navigator System worked wonderfully.

Maria Valadez Maria Valadez
Health Center

Dr. George Kondas, this is an unsolicited letter regarding Maria Valadez' work she does at the Heart Center. I have watched her for a number of years as she greets patients as they come in the Heart Center. She is always happy, has a great smile. She greets them by name if possible. She is quick to work with patients who seem to need help. She constantly checks the waiting room for patient not feeling well or who believe they should be seen by a doctor immediately. She may walk up to a patient to answer their questions. She helps create a climate of positive regard and respect for each patient. She bilingual and is so helpful with patients who have difficulty understanding any language other than their native language.

She has the respect of her peers and willingly helps them with their problems. She has responded to a number of my issues to my great satisfaction and comfort. She is so assuring as she deals with patients. Clearly she brings great credibility to the Heart Center! She is a very valuable employee and should be recognized for her work. She goes well beyond her job to help patients. She is the first person patients see as they come into the Center Heart Center as they leave she is the last staff member who always wishes them well.

Melissa LaraMelissa Lara
Staff Nomination

I would like to nominate Melissa Lara to be recognized for all her efforts to make NSICU and 6ESD a better place for staff and patients. She works extremely hard and goes above and beyond for patients and staff. She is currently working to help implement guidelines to become a comprehensive stroke center. Recently, she stayed and helped as an extra hand until 7pm at night because the unit was extremely hectic and we were slammed with post ops and several admissions within a small window of time. Instead of leaving, she saw the staff and unit was in need and stayed to help for 2 hours, despite the fact that she would never receive compensation for her extra time. She cares so much and works so hard to make UIH a better place. She has been here 5 years, starting as a staff RN and has worked this hard from day 1. I think she deserves recognition for her tremendous work and achievements

Ruby DavidRuby David
Surgical Services
Patient Nomination

Ruby made me feel welcome from minute one. She was very professional but so friendly that it eased my fears and increased my trust in the department. My blood pressure was up and she "talked me down" so to speak by asking about me and my life. She was so easy to talk to and instilled trust. She got me a warm blanket and was concerned about my physical comfort. My 2nd surgery, she was not even my nurse but stopped by and said hi and asked how I was feeling and whether I needed a warm blanket. When my surgery was over, she stopped in to see how I was doing and asked if I would like some coffee to go. I teasingly said flavored coffee and she brought me a cappuccino!!! She is an asset to your department with her friendliness, professionalism, caring manner and her ability to make you feel at ease. Thank you for making my experience as pleasant as possible Ruby!!!!!

Alexander DavisAlexander Davis
Patient Nomination

Alexander is an excellent example of a quality employee. Today he went out of his way to help me. I was at 1740 West Taylor, but my ride service told me I had to go to 1801 West Taylor. After Alexander had already clocked out, he took the time to push me there. Unfortunately, I am here quite often and require transportation. Alexander has helped me many times and always with a smile and positive attitude. He is truly an exceptional and valuable employee.

Allison CowettAllison Cowett, MD
Obstetrics & Gynecology
Staff Nomination

On several occasions, I have witnessed Dr. Cowett's compassionate care and service to our patients. Recently, there were 2 very difficult, time sensitive cases in which patients needed treatment. There were problems with the insurance coverage. Dr. Cowett researched the problem, connected with the appropriate person in the program for assistance, and was able to resolve problem so the patients could get treatment. One patient told me that she was glad "you all worked very hard" so she could get the desired treatment. I am thankful to work with a provider such as Dr. Cowett who shows genuine concern for her patients and wants to ensure they get the best care possible. It is also refreshing to know that although we all have different disciplines, we speak the same language in ensuring the patient's needs are met. Thank You, Dr. Cowett!

Antonio TorresAntonio Torres
Environmental Services
Staff Nomination

On Tuesday a woman arrived at the hospital café following a vascular appointment. The woman began bleeding out in the dining area. The woman became anxious and tried to start walking to the emergency room. She was persuaded to stay in the dining area until RRT arrived. A puddle of blood and a blood trail resulted. As a standard precaution the café and dining area were immediately shutdown to protect personnel and patrons from bio hazardous contamination.

All this happened right before the 11AM lunch rush. With such precision and efficiency, housekeeping supervisor Tony, along with a team of housekeeping personnel, were able to clean and disinfect the entire contaminated area resulting in only a brief delay of the café reopening for the lunch rush. They were the epitome of teamwork. I've only seen that king of team work in the military. They should be commended for their work.

Ernest YatesErnest Yates
Women & Family
Staff Nomination

We are truly blessed to have such a compassionate caring individual on our staff. Last week we had a homeless couple come in to have a baby. The father was in need of a shower and clothing change. The nurse facilitated the shower, but Earnest gave the clothing from his back to help facilitate the needs of this father. AMAZING.



Karol Stireman
Karol Stireman

Heart Center

Dr. Kondos this is an unsolicited letter from Victor Washington and myself regarding Karol Stireman. We both been have seeing her on a regular basis for several years. We both feel we have been given the highest quality of nursing care from her! We also have benefited from her unending personal caring for our health. She is always happy and has a smile. Her attention to every detail in our cases as well as always taking time to review our visits is so helpful for each of us. She is always asking about our health and if there is more she can provide! When the waiting room is packed she is the first person to come out and speak to individuals patients to assure them they will be seen. Karol goes the extra mile for both of us trying to provide the best quality care. We both feel like she is our personal nurse. It is clear that everyone in the Heart Center looks to her for advice and help. Clearly she is a natural leader with great leadership skills. She helps create a positive climate in the Heart Center. We both consider it a privilege to have her as our nurse. She does an excellent job every day and brings great credit to the Heart Center.

Florence AyaforFlorence Ayafor
Nursing Resource Office
Patient Nomination

I've been dealing with lupus for 10 years. On this particular hospital stay I was newly diagnosed with a seizure disorder that left me severely depressed. I came out and told the doctors about some abuse I've been going through so they gave me a watcher. Florence was my watcher and she gave me so much needed advice and hope. I'd really like to see her recognized for her tremendous spirit and work ethic. She genuinely cared about me and it showed. She's a very special worker you have here.

Leslie BriarLeslie Briar, PharmD
Pharmacy Practice
Staff Nomination

Leslie has worked in the pediatric clinic at UI Health for more than 15 years as well as in pediatric nephrology and transplant clinic. She is a gem who goes about working relentlessly under all demanding conditions to provide quality care for patients with complex problems. She is king, super-efficient, diligent, and always willing to help coworkers and faculty to provide superior care for the patients. She is an excellent teacher and always available for her residents when they need help. Her intellectual honesty is commendable.

She is dependable, and always willing to go the extra mile for the patients as well as the pediatric staff who needs help to navigate insurance issues to provide timely medications for the patients. She supports team work, creates a sense of ownership and maintains a courteous environment. She complies with all the UI Health goals to provide good outpatient care in the clinic setting. Patients love her and depend on her for many of their medication needs. Pediatric transplant patients go to her for constantly changing insurance requirements like prior authorizations. This dedication of her has prevented patients losing their transplants by providing an alternative way of obtaining medications while insurance issues have been resolved. We are truly fortunate to have Dr. Leslie Briar as our team member who is always prepared to fill in the gap when help is needed. She also actively participates in clinical research. I am grateful for her service to my nephrology and transplant team and patients.

Leticia MontanoLeticia Montano
Environmental Services
Patient Nomination

Leticia deserves recognition for the excellent job she does in housekeeping. She always assures that my child's room is clean and has enough towels, etc. Leticia is so nice to us she always puts a smile on my daughter's face. Being here for months at a time is not easy but having someone caring makes a big difference. Having our room clean by her, and cleaned well, means a lot to us. We have been here for almost 2 months and when she is here my room is in excellent condition. She makes sure that before she starts cleaning she informs us so that we won't fall. She makes sure before she leaves that we have everything we need. I know that the majority of the time nurse and doctors get this recognition but I feel that Leticia is very important to this hospital as well. She's soft spoken and my daughter likes that due to her many disabilities. This makes her feel safe. With 42 surgeries that my child has had, you can imagine that we are here a lot. With that being said, Leticia has been here with us for more than a year. She has never changed. I want to say thank you to Leticia and I appreciate you so much. I hope UI Health gives Leticia Montano the recognition she truly deserves. Thank you.

Maurice HendersonMaurice Henderson
Patient & Guest Experience Office
Staff Nomination

Maurice exemplified the values of UI Health even in the face of a personal disaster. On Christmas day, Maurice's apartment was severely damaged by water and smoke due to a fire in his 1st floor neighbor's apartment. Luckily, Maurice, his wife, twin 8-month old daughters and 2 year-old son were having Christmas dinner at Maurice's mother house. Maurice contacted us and said he would be returning to work on Monday but probably be "out of uniform" as most of his clothes were ruined. On Monday, Maurice returned to work wearing what he looks best in, a great big smile and picked up just where he left off- in pursuit of a patient's missing dentures. The department was amazed at his resilience and true spirit of service excellence in the midst of personal loss and devastation. Maurice deserves to be recognized as a true culture carrier at UI health. He is amazing.

Pritesh PatelPritesh Patel, MD
Hematology and Oncology

We would like to nominate Dr. Pritesh Patel for the UIC Class Act Award on behalf of the UIC Bone Marrow Transplant Staff. We are so happy and excited to nominate someone like him because it is well deserved. He is extremely hard working, compassionate, intelligent, and thoughtful. The patients that are taken care of in the BMT unit are patients who are very sick and usually carry a new diagnosis of acute leukemia, lymphoma, or are there to receive a stem cell transplant with an expected hospital stay of at least 2 to 3 weeks. This is an overwhelming and scary feeling on the part of the patient. However, Dr. Patel makes them feel comfortable, takes time to explain their new diagnosis, and reviews thoroughly the plan for the patient. He always takes time out of his day to talk to family members, nurses, and other staff whenever they have questions. He stays late and comes early just to make sure that management of these patients is being done appropriately. His bedside manners is the best we have ever seen and patients clearly appreciate it. His genuine nature and commitment to patient care speaks high volume of his character and personality. He also contributes to patient care by his research efforts and developing new protocols that will be novel and shed new light in an area that needs progressive and advanced research. We are truly inspired by his efforts and day in and day out motivation and hard work. You can really see the appreciation in the patient’s eyes when he is talking to them. He will stop whatever he is doing to make sure that nothing comes before patients and patient’s needs. There are not many people like this so it is fit to say that he definitely deserves this award. He motivates others to work harder and contribute more for patients. We also appreciate his thoughtful consideration when deciding treatment for patients and his rational therapeutic advice he offers for patient care. We hope he is awarded because it should not go unnoticed, especially amidst an environment where sometimes people take for granted their role in affecting patient outcomes and touching people’s lives. When you hear patients saying positive things about you and when you hear other staff recommending you and speaking highly of you, you know you have made your mark. Because at the end of the day, when you are a doctor what matters is that you are helping patients feel better, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Kudos to you Dr. Patel for achieving this!

Renata LaCourRenata LaCour
5E Surgical Services
Patient Nomination

I had surgery for kidney cancer. My recovery was in 5E Surgical Services. Let me start by saying everyone I came in contact with was very professional and courteous. One nurse just seemed to give an extra effort and didn't make it seem like it was just another day at work. She was very well schooled in nursing, made sure to check on me and other patients in a timely manner, and gave her best happy face even on a bad day. What really set her apart was the way she made me feel like we were old friends. We would talk about anything and everything until duty called. But when she returned, the conversation picked up right where it left off. She made me feel important enough to listen to, but she also made me feel very comfortable too when I knew she was on duty. I knew all the patients were getting the same treatment. Renata is truly an asset to your hospital. I hope you take care of her as well as she took care of me.

Shavon ShepherdShavon Shepherd
7W Walter Payton Liver Center
Patient Nomination

I've never quite understood the magnitude of a nurse's compassion and capabilities until I was admitted into the hospital for pancreatitis. As one can imagine, it is incredibly difficult to describe the intensity of the pain I was experiencing and the elevated state of fear and uncertainty I was in. I have never been hospitalized before and the series of events leading up to my admission were all new to me. My blood pressure and heart rate were tremendously high. After being admitted to the ICU and then GI, I was confident that I would receive no gratifying news about the future of my condition.

However, I had the great fortune of meeting nurse Shavon. Her sense of humor and personable approach gave me the strength to fight and overcome my circumstance. Her expertise and works of encouragement helped alleviate my suffering and forget the severity of the pain I was feeling. With her help, I began to focus completely on my recovery. I truly believe without her assistance, my hospitalization and ability to cope with pain would have played out differently. Nurse Shavon's impeccable job performance is greatly appreciated and I sincerely hope it does not go unnoticed. She deserves recognition for being a beacon of hope and assurance during a time of torment and distress.

Stephanie HultzStephanie Hultz
Social Work
Staff Nomination

This social worker demonstrated outstanding forensic investigation to link up a patient and a father who had not seen his son for over a year. The patient present to 6 East as an unknown and found down on the street. He was intubated and unresponsive. A social worker initially search belongings and found no IDs, only some papers. Calls were made to the NSA because of a name listed on a paper and no one heard of the patient. The phone number was pre-pay and no identifiers listed. Stephanie called 911 to get finger prints, and verified his name found on a paper. Calls were made to the UIC police and they were able to identify an address. Local police were sent to the home but the current residents did not know the patient. Guardianship was about to be considered when patient was found to have insurance. It took a couple days but their caseworker shared that the patient's insurance was paid by someone else. That name turned out to be the patient's father who had been paying the insurance with the hope that someone may one day call about his missing son.

The patient had been a Navy Seal and a history of bipolar disorder. The father stated he would just disappear. The father immediately came to Chicago from Tennessee and the patient was successfully placed into Acute Rehab when medically stable. Through a very time intensive process of calling and following up on all possible, leads the patient was successfully reunited with family and placed into rehab.

Tanisha TaylorTanisha Taylor
Neurosciences Center - 4E
Patient Nomination

I cannot stress enough the fact that on every visit to this fine institution, this young lady has gone far beyond normal guidelines in her job description. Competence and compassion cannot describe this young lady in the way she does her daily job. She not only treats myself with the utmost care, but also every other visitor through the doors of 4E. Over the years I have also seen her helping other patients in the area in front of the center. Obviously she is not yet on duty. What a fine representative of this fine institution.

Yehuda IsenbergYehuda Isenberg
Human Resources
Staff Nomination

Yehuda Isenberg runs New Employee Orientation (NEO) and has done so for the past several years. A strong, engaging onboarding and orientation program is key to employee engagement, tenure and productivity. Yehuda understands the importance of NEO and showed this very clearly in the past 2 months.

Yehuda was a part of the team that re-designed NEO for 2014 to provide an even greater experience for the new employee. The first NEO was scheduled for Jan 6-7, 2014. On Sunday, Jan 5, 2014 the weather warnings started warning people of extremely dangerous temperatures. What would soon be known as "The Polar Vortex." The predictions were so dire that the University closed and only "necessary" personal were told to report.

The inscription on the NY post office of "Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds" is appropriate in this case. Yehuda braved the cold, and a very successful NEO was conducted! (We saluted the brave new employees who battled the cold as well.) Yehuda embodies a "can do" attitude which shows in his commitment to NEO in 2014. With extreme snow and temperatures this year, the process of getting to/from and around NEO has been challenging. But Yehuda is always there to greet the new employees with a smile and welcome.

It's one thing to just show up. It's another to show up and role model what a UI Health employee is all about.

Yolanda AlverezYolanda Alverez
Patient Nomination

I was a patient at the hospital during the Christmas holidays. I was down in spirit, missing friends, family, and children. Every day I would watch Ms. Yolanda going about her tasks, greeting me with a smile on her face. She must have known that I was missing home and Christmas because she started to bring the Christmas spirit to me in small ways. She might tell me about all of the Christmas shoppers she saw on her way home or Christmas decorations she had seen. She even told me if she cleaned my room as best she could, she was sure I would feel much better. She never lingered. She would just talk a bit as she went over and beyond her duty, and always with a warm smile. Yolanda made my stay so much better.