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Class Act Awards

Alexander DavisAlexander Davis
Department: Transport

Multiple Nominations from Patients and Staff
Mr. Alexander is a breath of fresh air and an asset to his department and UI Health. He is always, not only caring in the job he performs, but really takes an interest to whomever he is working with whether it's staff or patients. He not only talks with you but engages you. He is very friendly in the hallways and always makes you feel so happy and good. He puts a smile on your face. He's very genuine and makes you feel warm and cozy. In the morning you walk into the OCC building and he's right there flashing you his pearly white teeth in a bright smile and just makes you feel all cheerful and in a good spirit to start your day. His smile is very contagious and makes you happy. I've seen the same effect when I seem him transporting his patients around.

Alexander went above and beyond his role as transporter on one particular day. That day we had a patient at the Heart Center that was in a wheelchair and needed to be moved from the chair to a bed. There was limited Heart Center staff available to assist. Alexander was in our lobby transporting another patient and offered to help. He quickly and gently lifted the patient from the chair to the bed and then willingly agreed to return at the end of her test to assist her back to the chair. The test would not have been completed without his assistance. The fact that he was courteous and friendly made not only the patient comfortable but made working with him a joy. He always wears a smile and has a friendly greeting. He is an exceptional example of the UI CARE mission.

Andre JohnsonAndre Johnson
Department: Social Work

Staff Nomination
I would like to recognize Andre Johnson from Social Work for his dedication to his patients and coworkers. I have personally worked with Andre on many "sticky situations" where there feels like there is no solution. Andre always finds a way to help my patients (and me!) feel at ease that he is on our side. Specifically, Andre selflessly gave his time and expertise to starting up a preoperative class for our patients undergoing joint replacement surgeries. Although inpatient social work is not his area of expertise, Andre saw the need for action and stepped up to the plate. He has been attending these classes twice a month, for almost two years, and still always comes with a smile on his face. He is a delight to work beside and I am more than honored to nominate him for this recognition.

Staff Nomination
I'm not sure there are words that can thoroughly describe the wonderful, caring person who is Andre Johnson. Andre is a social worker for the outpatient care areas. He has a calm and gentle manner that puts others at ease - particularly in times of stress. Andre has a special gift to remain compassionate and composed under the most stressful of situations which allows patients to get their concerns out and needs met. In our department (PT/OT), there have been several instances where Andre has assisted with patients who are having personal life challenges that are impacting their health and ability to participate in therapy. He has spent hours with these patients to ensure that their needs are met. Andre puts patients and their families' needs first - every patient every time! Andre is an exemplary employee who should be recognized his hard work and dedication to UI Health.

Cara BonwellCara Bonwell
Department: Psychiatry

Staff Nomination
Earlier this month Cara worked with a young man from Ireland. He has a serious mental illness and abruptly left his job in Ireland and flew to the U.S. He was supposed to get on a flight home to Ireland when due to his symptoms, he was unable to get on the flight. Per his family, this was the second time he was supposed to get on a flight home to Ireland and did not. Instead, he was found to be living alone, homeless on the streets of Chicago.

Cara worked with him closely and developed a therapeutic rapport with him. He came to trust her. He allowed her to work closely with his family to try to get him back to Ireland. After a few weeks, his team decided it was time to purchase a flight and his mother bought the ticket. Still, Cara was afraid this was not enough support for the patient, and once again, he would not be able to board the plane. She discovered a wonderful resource offered by O'Hare: social workers to provide support to disabled travelers. Though it appeared they were not familiar with assisting in a case like this, they provided assistance and support to the patient.

Cara went out of her way again and road with the patient in the medicar to the airport. Later, she received the news that the patient boarded his flight and made it home to Ireland safely! Cara's sense of empathy and concern for her patients and their families is exceptional. She will go above and beyond to assure at discharge her patients have a safe and realistic plan, one that they are comfortable with, and one which maximizes their chances for safety and stabilization. We're all lucky to have her on our team!

Christina EvangelistaChristina Evangelista
Department: Pharmacy

Staff Nomination
We discharged a pregnant patient who had been on the unit for 40 days and involved in a court case in order to treat her involuntarily with medications. Her brother moved in with her upon discharge to help look after her and her unborn child. He called us desperately two days later because he tried filling her prescriptions and due to an unforeseen glitch in her insurance coverage. He was not able to pay this and the patient had now been without medications for almost 2 days. He reported she was decompensating, agitated, uninterested in getting her medications. We called their local pharmacy and confirmed, the medications would not be covered so he agreed to a Medication Assistance Program (MAP) referral.

That day, I faxed the referral form to MAP. Christina called me not long after to follow-up. I explained the story to her and she offered to run the prescriptions to get a co-pay to give the brother, and also to help the family resolve the situation with the patient's Medicaid and Medicare. Christina got her a 30 day supply for low cost. Additionally, she told the brother she would call Medicaid to resolve the issue so the patient was able to fill her prescriptions with no problem in the future. Needless to say, the brother was very relieved. She really saved the day; without her help, which was above and beyond her daily responsibilities, this patient would have further decompensated and likely returned to the hospital. She made things so much easier on me, the patient's doctor, the patient's family, and especially the patient and her unborn child.

Erin TobinErin Tobin
Social Worker

Class Act Award submitted by Cara Bonwell
Erin is a very dedicated, caring social worker with excellent clinical skills who goes above and beyond more times than I can count.  If a patient does not know their way, she will escort them to the train, bus, pharmacy, or wherever they need to go.  She has even taken the bus/train with patients when needed.  She also takes the time to explain the discharge plan to the patients and to their families.  Erin always ensures that patients have  a safe, obtainable discharge plan even if this means she has to go the extra mile for them. 

Recently, on a Friday evening as she was leaving to go home, a  patient saw her in the lobby and approached her. The patient was dressed inappropriately for the weather and was with a small child.  Erin asked the patient how she was planning to get home and the patient stated the bus but she did not have money.  Erin offered to call a medicar for her and the patient agreed.  It was going to be a couple of hours before the service car could come so Erin escorted the patient and her child to the cafeteria and bought them dinner.  During this time, Erin was becoming uneasy about the mother's care of the child.  Erin was purchasing some food in the cafeteria and the cashier asked Erin if she thought the patient was safe to be with the child.  Erin asked the cashier why she had concerns, the cashier stated that the patient had hit the child in the cafeteria earlier in the day and had refused to buy food for the child.  This confirmed the feeling that Erin had and she called DCFS and made a report.  An investigator was able to come quickly.  This incident was after hours on Friday. Erin could have easily said "hi" to the patient and went home to her family but she went above and beyond to ensure the safety of a child.

Erin is a great social worker and I am so lucky to work with her every day.  Erin puts patients and their families' needs first every time! She is a strong advocate for patients and their families.  Erin is an exemplary employee who should be recognized for her hard work and dedication to UI Health.

Hoss FatemiHoss Fatemi
Assistant Director, Creative Services, Health Enterprise Marketing

Class Act Award submitted by Dr. Bud Pygon
Hoss is the creative backbone in many of our internal marketing campaigns including the hand hygiene, new ID badge, patient story and employee story campaigns. His handy work has been proudly displayed throughout the hospital for the past year.

Jeanine KlausJeanine Klaus
Department: NNICU/ICN

Jeanine always gives exemplary service above & beyond her job duties. This is shown with the families of our patients (with the PAGES meetings). She also works tirelessly to facilitate communication between medical -nursing staff. This was especially evident one night when we lost 2 babies. Jeanine helped to arrange for Pastoral-Chaplain services and also set up our overnight parent's room for our grieving parents while we resuscitated their baby. At times she even worked as one of our numerous "runners" to secure equipment and supplies on that shift.

Our nursing staff has also come to greatly look forward to Jeanine's monthly Reflections sessions that she holds for all 3 shifts, even coming in on off-shifts. The staff perceive it as one of the very rare forums where they feel they can openly express their ideas and feelings. In fact, the nursing staff unanimously agree that Jeanine's Reflections are invaluable as a vehicle for relieving staff frustration and boosting our staff morale in general. It makes us wonder how we managed all this years without her!

Kevin Lulofs-MacPhersonKevin Lulofs-MacPherson
Department: Physical Therapy

Staff Nomination
It is with great pleasure that I nominate Kevin Lulofs-MacPherson for a Class Act Award. Even though Kevin has only worked at UI Health for 4 years, he has made several very positive and lasting contributions to UI Health's Outpatient PT Department, UIC's DPT Program, and to UIC's Fellowship in Orthopedic Manual Physical Therapy. In the 18 plus years that I have worked at UI Health, I have had the opportunity to work with several extremely talented physical therapists and Kevin truly ranks as one of the best. Whenever there is a patient who needs to be seen, especially if it is an employee or a difficult clinical case and who often arrives during Kevin's lunch hour, Kevin always volunteers. Month after month patients continue to add comments on their Press Ganey surveys that highlight Kevin's clinical expertise and skill, kindness, and sense of humor.

Often times another therapist in the department may have a great idea to start a pilot program, perform clinical research, or learn a new evaluative skill. Kevin is always the first or one of the first individuals to say, "Count me in and just tell me what you would like for me to do." Kevin's willingness to be a strong player in our department is invaluable. Additionally when one of our senior staff PTs recently left, someone had to step up and take over some of his teaching responsibilities. Kevin stepped in and took on these additional responsibilities. He makes learning fun and is very innovative with his teaching methods that often include the use of videos that he has either found or has made himself. Thank you, Kevin, for all of your hard work and dedication.

Linda MarsLinda Mars
Department: Rehabilitation Services

Staff Nomination
It is with great pleasure that I am nominating Medical Office Specialist, Linda Mars, for a Class Act Award. For the last two and half years Linda has been working diligently in Outpatient Occupational and Physical Therapy to obtain OP therapy insurance authorizations. Linda has worked with her supervisor, Nancy Tow, to streamline the process for obtaining insurance authorizations for therapy. Linda listens carefully and strives hard to meet the needs of the department, staff, and patients. She responds quickly and really gets the job done. She has obtained numerous HMO authorizations and PPO authorizations for treatment, often at the last minute. She has assisted our department in recovering what would have been lost revenue. Linda always comes to the rescue, and she is one of OT and PT's best kept secrets of success.

Linda comes up with great ideas and suggestions on how to approach an insurance problem. HFS or IDPA is on a first name basis with Linda. Linda calls HFS several times a week and often daily to secure IDPA authorizations. Last year alone, the OP OT and PT Department had over 900 clients with regular IDPA insurance that Linda kept track of. These 900 clients did not include clients who had IDPA HMO alternatives, such as Aetna Better Health. Yes, Linda managed all of those clients too. Linda has trained other staff members in how to approach, secure, and input critical insurance information. She is an excellent resource for complicated insurance issues. We very much appreciate all of Linda's efforts! Linda is continuing to take classes at an outside university to pursue another college degree. We thank you, Linda, for all of your hard work and appreciate your diligence and patience. Linda Mars, you are most deserving of this Class Act Award.

Lindsey CousinsLindsey Cousins
Child Life Specialist

Class Act Award submitted by Beena Peters
It is impossible to summarize in just a few words what a Class Act that Lindsey Cousins, our Pediatric Child Life Specialist, is for our unit. If you were to open up any dictionary and search for the word dogged, you will find synonyms such as relentless, steadfast, tenacious, preserving, and unshakeable. These are all the synonyms that exemplify who Lindsey Cousins is.

Over the past several years, Lindsey Cousins have served as a Child Life Specialist, constantly striving to improve the child life program and patient satisfaction through her continued dedication and commitment.  She seamlessly works to organize volunteers, provide patient education, and implement a remembrance celebration for our patients that have succumbed to their illness.  Her can-do attitude with various local and national organizations has resulted in CHUI being the recipient of many essential resources which includes financial assistance to support the Pediatric units.

Lindsey is a front-runner in testing new initiatives.  This year, she has stepped outside her self-admitted comfort zone by applying and receiving a $12,000 grant from Designs 4 Dignity, to remodel the Family Waiting Room. She wanted a room where children who undergo uncomfortable and sometimes extremely painful treatment will be in a peaceful, tranquil environment.  Also, due to Lindsey's relentlessness, CHUI was awarded $45,000 from Starlight Children's Foundation to remodel the Pediatric Treatment Room which will be completed by the end of May.

In addition, Lindsey work with the Starlight Children's Foundation has resulted in CHUI being a front-runner to receive an $110,000 award to remodel our Pediatric Playroom.  If awarded, our patients and families will be able to enjoy a space that will provide countless hours of enjoyment.

From coordinating the Pediatric Trick or Treating program, to planning an educational field trip to the Kohl's Children's museum, to working with the young patients to create holiday ornaments, Lindsey always steps up to quickly ensure that the needs of patients are first and foremost.

Lindsey is an exemplary employee who should be recognized for her hard work and dedication to  UI Health.

Maria Esperanza DeGuzma-DeVicaisMaria Esperanza DeGuzma-DeVicais
Department: Perioperative Services

Staff Nomination
The main focus of the Department of Perioperative services over the past year has been to improve the patient and family experience. As a result, the department has implemented several initiatives but none have been more impactful than the creation of the patient liaison role. The patient liaison was to serve as the voice for families. The person who agreed to trial this position is Maria Esperanza DeGuzma-DeVicais. She took the position and turned it into something remarkable. Espi carries out her duties as a patient liaison based on what she would want as a family member and as a staff nurse. There was a need for a person knowledgeable about the perioperative areas to serve as a voice between patient families and staff.

Espi has created a position we never want to be without. She has built a relationship with the Surgicenter, OR and PACU that fosters communication with the patient families. She keeps families informed of where patients are in the process which decreases their level of anxiety. The OR uses her as the point person to bring families up to the family conference room to meet with the surgeon for an update. She calls PACU for updates and accompanies families to the PACU to see their family. She is tireless in her efforts to support positive patient /family /staff interaction. Families are informed which has increased the satisfaction scores for the perioperative area.

In interacting with family and staff, Espi always presents with a smile. She is soft spoken and speaks to everyone with courtesy even when the situation becomes tense. She always says thank you when given an update and makes you feel as if she values your time. She makes every family and friend feel as if they are of the utmost importance.

Mary PittmanMary Pittman
Nurse Tech

Class Act Award Nominated by Carmen Mei
I am writing in regards to nominate Mary Pittman, nurse technician on 7W. Mary is the most phenomenal, compassionate nurse technician I have worked with. When working with Mary, I know I am going to have a good day and I know my patients will have a good day as well. She has continuously showed tremendous amount of care and compassion towards her patients, going above and beyond what is required of her.

We had this troubled paraplegic patient who had a history of IV drug abuse on our unit coming in for an infection. The patient had a very aggressive demeanor that would deter any health care professional. Mary had a long working relationship with this patient, as this patient is known as a "frequent flyer". After seeing Mary and talking to Mary, this patient's demeanor changed drastically. She trusted Mary, and the care that Mary provided for this troubled patient was definitely evident in the patient's change of demeanor. Mary forms lasting working relationships with the patients. Many of the patients ask if Mary is working that day, and when I tell them she is not here there seems to be a bit of disappointment over Mary's absence. The patients know Mary's name by heart. With her sense of humor and compassionate listening skills all the patients love her. Mary's ease and flexibility in working with all kinds of patients makes her one of the best nursing technicians.

Mary is constantly trying to provide better care for her patients. She makes the initiative to let the nurse know if there are additional services that the patient might need (i.e. physical therapy, wound care consult). She is determined to get patients up and walking the day after surgery. With her well rounded understanding of each and one of her patients, she strives to help improve on the patient's condition.

In addition Mary is a leader among nurse technicians. She is the first to adapt to changes and the increased responsibilities of the nurse technician role. She sets a good example for new nurse technicians and is the go to person for any questions. In tough situations, she offers her expert advice on how to approach the problem. Even when I have questions regarding patient care, I go to Mary. In the nursing shared leadership committees, Mary was consulted regarding nurse to nurse technician relationship and how nursing can help improve this relationship. Her input was very much valued, and her comments showed that she was passionate about her role and strived to improve. Mary is also a skin champion on our unit identifying patients that have skin breakdown and those that are high risk for skin breakdown.

She is constantly going above and beyond on the unit to help make 7W a better unit for our patients. She enthusiastically led many initiatives such as checking the working function of bed alarms on the patients' beds to reduce the risk for falls. In addition with the return of the liver service, Mary made sure all of the rooms were set up with working suction to make patient care easier for nurses and the liver service (e.g. bedside paracentesis). Her self-driven exceptional work ethic makes her an asset for the 7W and for the hospital as a whole.

Mary Pittman encompasses the very prime example of a candidate that deserves an employee recognition award. Her hard work and leadership in her role is very much valued.