News

The VNA Foundation Gives Hope to Victims of Human Trafficking

 

Imagine having such extreme dental issues that you are up all night in pain and can no longer smile in public. Then imagine that you have no insurance or money to pay for a visit to the dentist—where would you turn? The SCH Dental Clinic, established by the hospital’s Foundation in 2017 to help uninsured and low income patients who came to the Emergency Room looking for dental relief, will now cover the cost of dental care for survivors of interpersonal violence and human trafficking. Thanks to recent funding from The VNA Foundation, the Dental Clinic will be able to help more victims of human trafficking in our community. . This funding will complement grant support from the U.S. Department of Justice and Chicago Dental Society Foundation, as well as other donations from individual and corporate partners.

While dental care is often regarded as a low priority in the medical care of these individuals, to the survivor, it is essential for regaining their self-worth. The Dental Clinic’s Manager, Marilyn Richmond, echoes the importance of dental care in the lives on these patients,

“They come in with toothaches, facial swelling, infections and facial trauma. Most have not had their teeth cleaned in years and have many cavities. We want to get them back on the path to good oral health. After treatment, these patients are very appreciative, they are smiling and grateful.”

Dental care is critical for these survivors, yet seeing a doctor, let alone a dentist who is very close to the survivor’s face, can be triggering, over-whelming and fear-inducing. This is why it’s so important that dentists and their staff be trained on how to appropriately engage with survivors to make them feel comfortable and safe. The Clinic’s Dentist, Dr. John Laftsidis, and his office staff have all been trained on providing trauma-informed care to these patients so that they feel at ease with office visits and medical procedures. As Marilyn notes, “These patients come from difficult situations with a lot of trauma. They may be fearful of someone touching their face. With the specialized training that we’ve received, we begin to break down this wall with kindness and understanding.”

Dr. Laftsidis’ dental care is not only improving the overall health of these patients, but is also aiding their emotional and physiological well-being.  As Marilyn recounts, one patient came in with stained front teeth, many deep cavities and never smiled– she was in constant pain. After several office visits she now smiles. She is not only pain-free, but delighted with her new smile and her new life. As the Dental Clinic staff has witnessed, providing dental care to these survivors is life-changing for the patient.

Regaining a person’s oral health increases their self-worth, their ability to engage with others and provides renewed confidence in interviewing for employment.  As Marilyn notes, “We change people’s lives by allowing them to smile again. Once they get on a path to better oral health, their whole personality changes. I’ve seen it over and over again.” While dental care may seem like a small fraction of care in the grand scheme of treatment, it can serve as the gateway for many opportunities as survivors work towards a better life.

This life-changing program is made possible by donations to SCH Foundation. Every dollar makes a difference. For more information about donating to Swedish Covenant Health, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or foundation@swedishcovenant.org

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Grateful Patient Profile: Monena Stone

 

You have to get up early to keep up with Monena Stone– 5am to be exact. Two days a week, rain or shine, Monena meets the Galter LifeCenter (GLC) staff when they open the doors, ready to start her day. She swims for one hour and then exercises for at least another two. At 85 years young, she’s an inspiration to the GLC Staff and has developed quite a fan club of fellow members.

When asked about Monena, Katie Oproglidis , GLC Courtesy Desk Supervisor  eagerly recounts,

“Monena has such a great energy and brightens up everyone’s day. She is a ‘regular’, so  a day without Monena is rare and doesn’t go unnoticed. Monena is highly respected and loved by many at Galter LifeCenter! “

Monena came to Swedish twenty years ago when she decided she needed doctors who were close to home. A routine mammogram seven years ago revealed a lump that was surgically removed, yet provided Monena the motivation to focus on her health in earnest.  She immediately began her healing journey at the Galter LifeCenter, where she has made use of the many resources that the facility and the Integrative Cancer Care Program (ICCP) have to offer.  The ICCP is a collections of services designed to help cancer patients overcome the physical, mental and emotional challenges of the disease, including message therapy, Mindful Meditation, integrative health practitioners and personal training sessions. These ICCP resources are all made possible through donations, which have provided Monena with many opportunities to keep her healthy and joyful.

Monena credits her health and stamina to regular exercise, the programs she attends in the ICCP and the excellent medical care from her doctors at Swedish Covenant Health. She is so grateful for her overall good health that she has been giving back to the hospital for years to ensure that others are provided the same type of compassionate care. When asked why she donates to SCH, Monena explains that it’s because of her doctors and GLC Staff, “They treat me like family. They really care about me and I know that I can always ask questions.”

With help from Swedish Covenant Health, Monena will continue making the world a brighter place for years to come. To learn more about donating to Swedish Covenant Health, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or foundation@swedishcovenant.org

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A Time to Sing: The Healing Arts Program

 

Music heals the soul. As a Certified Music Practitioner for over nine years, Lisa Bassett uses music– the physics of sounds, rhythm and resonance, combined with tone and melody, to create a healing space for patients at Swedish Covenant Hospital.  As a component of Swedish Covenant’s Healing Arts Program, patients receive this service at no cost, thanks to generous donations to Swedish Covenant Health.

When Lisa enters a patient’s room, she listens, observes and then responds to the patient’s needs in the moment with a melody that may calm, relax or uplift. With a repertoire of several hundred songs that range in musical genre and language, Lisa connects to patients of different backgrounds and cultures by singing melodies that provide comfort at a stressful time.

Lisa has always loved to sing and was eager to blend her love of music and experience as a vocalist with her compassion to help others.  She received her certification as a Music Practitioner because it’s a unique type of training that uses musical techniques to complement medical science which fosters healing in patients and their families. She usually sings at the patient’s bedside and everyone present in the room—including family members and medical staff—respond to the music. As Lisa notes, “Patients, staff, and families are recognizing the healing benefits of therapeutic music. Music also stimulates the patients’ own innate capacities to heal.”

Patients and their families are changed by the interaction. A sampling of the responses include:

  • A nurse in ICU said of a patient after Lisa sang to him, “His oxygenation is better, his heart rate is down and his blood pressure is lower.”
  • A husband sang along to a gospel song while nurses changed a tube for his wife. He wept and took Lisa’s hand.  “Bless you.”  His wife had fallen asleep.
  • Lisa began singing to a patient in Spanish. Within moments, the patient began singing and then staff, passing by, entered the room and began singing along. Hearing laughter from the room, a nurse at the Nurses’ Station exclaimed, “It’s a party!”’
  •  Lisa sang show tunes with a woman having trouble walking down the hall. The patient stopped, sang a few songs with Lisa and then exclaimed, “It’s so good—it gives you energy!”

Music, so simple yet so beneficial to the soul. Lisa’s music is providing comfort and healing to patients and their families. This innovative program, an integral component of our Healing Arts Program, is made possible by SCH Foundation and our generous donors.  Your support helps change lives.  For more information about donating to Swedish Covenant Health, contact the Foundation at (773) 293-5121 or foundation@swedishcovenant.org

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