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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Patients grateful for new lymphedema clinic


Sandra Simmons had been living with excess fluid in her legs for years. The swelling caused issues with mobility – she had difficulty navigating the four steps to leave home or even putting on socks and shoes. It also led to frequent hospitalizations where she was given diuretics intravenously to reduce the swelling. It wasn’t until last year that she officially received the diagnosis of lymphedema. Sandra was recently referred to the newly created Lymphedema Clinic at Swedish Covenant Hospital to receive the care she needs to reduce the excess fluids and improve her quality of life.

According to the National Lymphedema Network, lymphedema is an abnormal collection of high-protein fluid just beneath the skin. This swelling, or edema, occurs most commonly in the arm or leg, but it also may occur in other parts of the body. The swelling associated with the condition affects the patient’s quality of life, making it difficult or impossible to drive, walk or even find properly fitting clothes.

The Lymphedema Clinic at Swedish Covenant Hospital began serving patients like Sandra in July 2017. In the two months since the program started, the clinic has treated 11 patients. Patients are seen two to four times per week. According to Juanita Robinson, staff nurse and Certified Lymphedema Therapist, while there is no cure for lymphedema, treatment can better manage the condition and help patients lead more productive lives.

“What I like is that patients have renewed hope,” Juanita said. “Patients say that they’ve never felt so good.”

The clinic is unique in that it fills a gap in service for patients with lymphedema. Prior to the opening of the specialized clinic, many patients would not have been able to receive treatment because insurance companies often refuse coverage if the patient does not have a lymphedema-related wound.

The clinic is made possible through the generosity of donations to Swedish Covenant Hospital. Funds supported training for the lymphedema therapist, Juanita, and patient treatment including manual lymphatic drainage, garments and pumps for patients, when needed.

In just two months, Juanita and Christina Wagener, Wound Care Center manager, have observed significant improvements in patients. Since the program has started, they have seen a patient’s calf circumference go down as much as 12 cm. It typically takes one month of treatment for improvements to be seen with the combination of massage, compression garments and a pump.

“Before and after each appointment, the nurse measures my legs and I’m always surprised at how much of a difference there is from the beginning of the program,” Sandra said.

To learn more about supporting programs like the Lymphedema Clinic at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here or contact the Foundation at or 773-293-5121.

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Edgebrook Women’s Club partners to care for SCH babies


Babies exposed to drugs in utero require special care, especially in their first few weeks of life. Among their many needs, these babies require constant motion. To provide this extra care, nurses and other staff in the Swedish Covenant Hospital Family Birthing Center often needed to take turns holding and comforting the babies. Thanks to a generous donation by the Edgebrook Women’s Club, Swedish Covenant Hospital was able to purchase a rockaRoo infant seat that provides a gliding motion to help soothe babies.

Edgebrook Women’s Club is a neighborhood advocacy, social, and philanthropic organization whose philanthropic mission is to care for women and children in the community. The 120 members ranging in age from 27 to 93 contribute financially, as well as time and talent to support a number of philanthropic initiatives in the community.

In addition to the rockaRoo, members of Edgebrook Women’s Club have contributed hand knit items, including hats, booties and other items through their “Soft Touch” campaign. This campaign was designed to help meet the needs of newborns, women and families who are patients of Swedish Covenant Hospitals’ Family Birthing Center and nursery. The campaign began in June 2016.

“We really appreciate what Edgebrook Women’s Club does for Swedish Covenant Hospital,” said Maria BaMaung, MBA, BSN, RN, director of nursing for the Family Birthing Center. “They have been so supportive of the needs of our patients.”

According to Maria, the nurses enjoy picking out a special item or two for the 2,200 babies born each year in the Family Birthing Center. Each baby is given a hand-knit item to take home with them. These items provide warmth, comfort and security to newborns adjusting to the world around them. In addition, they have collected receiving blankets to provide to the unit.

“We chose to partner with Swedish Covenant Hospital because we realize that it has a significant presence in our community,” said Judy Heyworth, president of Edgebrook Women’s Club. “Their building of the Mayora Rosenberg Women’s Health Center demonstrates that they align with our mission to care for women, children and families.”

To learn more about supporting the Family Birthing Center at Swedish Covenant Hospital, click here or contact the Foundation at or 773-293-5121.

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