Donor Stories

Alice Perry Leaves Estate Gift


Alice Perry was deeply committed to helping others.  Whether it was improving the lives of her patients as a physical therapist, counseling those in distress as a deacon in her church, or assisting dogs and their owners as a steadfast member of the Winnemac Dog Park community,  Alice always made a difference.

Alice Perry passed away on April 7, 2018, after a 2-year battle with leukemia.  Alice’s generosity of spirit will live on at Swedish Covenant Hospital, as a member of the Heritage Society.  Heritage Society members are loyal donors who name the hospital as a beneficiary in their estate plans. When Alice passed away, she left the hospital a generous gift for the future.

Alice had a passion for learning and growing in her chosen career as a physical therapist. Working first at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, then RIC (now Ability Lab Home/Shirley Ryan AbilityLab), and finally, at Swedish Covenant Hospital for 15 years, Alice is remembered by colleague Mark Esper, PT, GSC as a lifelong learner, mentor, and someone who cared deeply about patient care and advocacy.   Although kind and humble, Alice was outspoken when it came to patient care and was “willing to question and challenge other clinicians’ approach to care in order to improve the quality here at Swedish”.

This same sentiment is echoed by a life-long friend of Alice’s, SCH’s Director of Rehabilitation Services, Claudia Ann Morehead. Claudia Ann not only was a classmate of Alice’s in physical therapy school, but many years later, worked alongside her at SCH. According to Claudia Ann, Alice always had a passion for learning. During school, not only did she routinely spent extra time in lab sessions to ensure that she had mastered a treatment technique , but she asked her professors so many questions, that she alone would frequently extend the class period to the dismay of her classmates!  Her passion for learning and providing excellent care for her patients followed her into her physical therapy career, where she excelled at assisting those with spinal cord injuries.  She was a meticulous professional, who worked to  obtain advanced certificates , mentored PT students and colleagues and wasn’t afraid to challenge a colleagues’ treatment plan  on behalf of a patient’s care.

Alice Perry’s expertise, passion and commitment to her patients will be greatly missed at Swedish Covenant Hospital, but due to her generosity, the impact of her estate gift will be felt for years to come. To read more donor stories, visit the Foundation website. To learn more about planned giving, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121, email us at:, or visit the planned giving website at:

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Frankels leave legacy gift in honor of care


Marlene and Jay Frankel found their medical home in Swedish Covenant Hospital. They greatly appreciated the kind nursing care they received and the expertise and responsiveness of physicians, according to Jacqueline Strzalka, unit manager of 4N. The Frankels are members of the Heritage Society at Swedish Covenant Hospital, a group of loyal donors who name the hospital as a beneficiary in their estate plans. When Marlene passed away earlier this year, she left the hospital a generous gift.

Jay transferred his care to Swedish Covenant Hospital in the early 2000s, and his experience at Swedish Covenant Hospital, specifically the cardiac rehabilitation program, helped him to more proactively manage his heart issues. Marlene was also a member of Galter LifeCenter and continued to use the fitness center after Jay’s passing in 2012. Jackie had the opportunity to build a relationship with the Frankels through caring for them over the years.

Jackie remembers their kindness and their gratitude for the care they received at Swedish Covenant Hospital. She recalls that they would call and send a birthday card to Jay’s cardiologist each year because they were so appreciative of his care.

“Their generosity continues their legacy of what was their life,” Jackie said. “This estate gift epitomizes the Frankels in that they are always thinking of others.”

Jay was a WWII Merchant Marine and Army veteran, and a freelance window trimmer. Jay passed away in 2012 at the age of 85 as a result of chronic health issues.

Marlene had a long career as a physical education teacher for Chicago Public Schools and enjoyed cycling, skiing, hiking and traveling the world. She passed away in early 2018 at the age of 85.

To learn more about planned giving at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here, or contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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Employees give back to Swedish Covenant Hospital


During the month of June, Swedish Covenant Hospital celebrated employee philanthropy through the annual We Care Employee Giving Campaign. Annually, nearly 200 employees give a total of $100,000 to support patient care initiatives, including the Family Birthing Center, cancer care and the Helping Hands Fund. Read on to meet a few of our employee donors and learn why they support Swedish Covenant Hospital.

Gary Duffy, Engineering Manager

Gary Duffy has contributed to the growth of Swedish Covenant Hospital in many ways since he joined the organization in 1996. As the Engineering Manager, he has been part of nearly every project from the construction of Galter Medical Pavilion and Foster Medical Pavilion to the renovation of almost every patient floor and the Emergency Department. He has also contributed financially as a Swedish Covenant Hospital donor.

While it is the capital structures that consume Gary’s days, he believes it is the people that truly make Swedish Covenant Hospital unique.

“Hospitals and healthcare are challenging financially and everyone at Swedish Covenant Hospital works together to make things work,” Gary said.

In addition to working at Swedish Covenant Hospital, Gary and his family also receive their healthcare here. He is grateful for the care he has received, in addition to his employment.

“Swedish Covenant Hospital has done a lot for me and given me a lot of opportunities,” Gary said.

Alicia Juska, PharmD, BCPS, Pharmacy Residency Program Director

As an employee, Alicia Juska has seen the impact that philanthropy makes for the patients she serves at Swedish Covenant Hospital. Because of this, she chooses to give back to Swedish Covenant Hospital through financial support, as well as by participating in Team SCH.

“I see this as the best way to give back because I know my donations are going to good use,” Alicia said.

Alicia has worked at Swedish Covenant Hospital for 15 years. The community-focused approach to healthcare, the diversity of the patients and employees, as well as the professional opportunities that have allowed her to continue to grow, contribute to her longevity at the hospital.

Alicia has been a member of Team SCH for three years, completing a half marathon, sprint triathlon, and this year will be competing in an international triathlon to benefit Swedish Covenant Hospital.

“It’s a good team to join and I like that it supports hospital programs,” Alicia said. “I would probably sign up anyways, so why not participate in a way that benefits the hospital?”

Pat Zeller, Manager of PACU, Endoscopy and Anesthesia

For more than 50 years, nursing has been an important part of Pat Zeller’s life. It is because of her commitment to the profession that she gives back by supporting nursing scholarships at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

“I see how many of our young nurses struggle financially,” Pat said. “Many are neighborhood kids that are needy and pay for school themselves.”

Pat is grateful for the education she received from St. Mary of Nazareth School of Nursing, and the unique experiences she had as a student at a hospital-based program. Now that nursing schools have shifted to university-based, she sees her role training nursing students at Swedish Covenant Hospital as critically important. Pat is a firm believer in continuing education, and recently completed her Master’s Degree in Nursing at the age of 69.

As a mentor to nursing students, and supporter of nursing scholarships, Pat is “passing the baton” to the next generation of nurses.

To learn more about employee philanthropy, click here, or contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or

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Zacharias supports SCH with BOB fundraisers


When Aaron Zacharias was approached by one of his employees about hosting a fundraiser for Swedish Covenant Hospital nearly 11 years ago, Aaron agreed with one caveat – to make it fun. Aaron, managing partner at Bar on Buena, collaborated with the Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board to create the Bar on Buena Beer Tasting Fundraiser.

“We wanted to create an intimate event that brought in experts from our suppliers to benefit a great cause,” Aaron said.

At the time, beer-tasting events were few and far between. But, as the local craft beer landscape has changed, and more events crowd the market, Aaron has tweaked the event to successfully help it grow. Changes include expanding the local breweries participating, to introducing whiskey and cocktails. As a result, the event continues to bring in a crowd of young professionals from the local community, as well as Swedish Covenant Hospital employees.

In addition to offering tastings, suppliers typically donate prizes such as bicycles, a travel refrigerator, and gift baskets for the raffle, which raises $1,000 each year.

Aaron believes it is important to give back. He lives in the neighborhood, and he and his wife use Swedish Covenant Hospital for their healthcare.

“I like what Swedish does and the event is tangible and direct way to give back to a local organization,” Aaron said.

This year’s event, held in September, raised more than $3,500 for the Violence Prevention Program at Swedish Covenant Hospital.

“We are so excited to be celebrating our 10th year at Bar on Buena,” said Kayleigh Hamre, Associates’ Board officer and long-standing member said. “Thank you Aaron and the Bar on Buena team for the unconditional support. Bar on Buena generously shared their space, amazing staff, delicious food, and killer raffle gifts with the Associates’ Board for the past 10 years allowing us to host such a rewarding and successful event year after year.”

The Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board is a group of young professionals who raise funds, increase public awareness and perform community service on behalf of SCH. They hold fundraising events throughout the year, including Bar on Buena Beer Tasting Fundraiser and a Bags Tournament.

To learn more about the Swedish Covenant Hospital Associates’ Board or to join, click here, or contact the Foundation at or 773.293.5121.

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Ocasio gives back to his “second home”


Tony Ocasio began his career at Swedish Covenant Hospital in 1974 as a Clinical Lab Assistant, doing everything from washing lab glassware to collecting specimens, to performing manual testing. Forty-three years later, Swedish Covenant Hospital has become Tony’s second home. Tony generously gives back to Swedish Covenant Hospital in appreciation of the career opportunities, and the strong relationships he has formed.

“As Swedish Covenant Hospital grew over the years, it presented me with a lifetime of opportunities to grow myself personally, spiritually and professionally and to amass cherished memories of the struggles and victories encountered and overcome alongside my fellow coworkers, or as I like to say, ‘work family’,” Tony said.

Tony overflows with Swedish Covenant Hospital pride as he talks about the state-of-the-art, computer-driven, automated and robotics lab at Swedish Covenant Hospital. When he first started at Swedish, much of the work was completed manually. As he describes, a “Frankenstein-like lab with different colored solutions, bubbling away in glass tubes and flasks, over the flame of a Bunsen burner.” But, much has changed at Swedish since then. The lab is now one of the top hospital labs in the country, a special feat for a community hospital. Tony attributes much of the success to the family-like atmosphere, and the strong relationships among the employees, many of whom have been working together for more than 30 years.

Swedish Covenant Hospital is more than just an employer for Tony. Tony has formed strong bonds with his “work family” and has attended weddings and traveled with his colleagues. In addition, Tony’s children were born at Swedish and attended the James and Suzanne McCormick Montessori Child Care Center.

Generosity was engrained in Tony by his parents and grandparents. Tony grew up in Humboldt Park as  one of six children. When Tony’s aunt passed away, Tony’s parents took care of her children, growing to a total of 11 children in their home. Despite Tony’s father’s modest job as a factory worker, his parents believed in sharing and an open house.

“My dad was the type of person to give the shirt off his own back,” Tony said.

In addition to giving back as a sense of appreciation, Tony also understands the importance of Swedish Covenant Hospital in the community, both as an employer of thousands of community members, and a source of health care delivery.

“When I drive into the parking garage every morning, I’m so thankful for Swedish Covenant Hospital not only as my employer, but for the jobs of all of my colleagues,” Tony said. “The community would suffer without Swedish Covenant Hospital.”

Swedish Covenant Hospital employees give generously throughout the year, including through the Annual Employee Giving Campaign. In 2017, more than 180 employees have donated nearly $175,000 to support various initiatives throughout the hospital. To learn more about employee giving at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here or contact the Foundation at

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