I have always had a love for children and an interest in healthcare. When my youngest child entered school, I eagerly took a volunteer position in the surgical waiting room at Children’s. I’ve been a volunteer for 35 years now, and it has turned out to be a life-altering experience.
When I started, some of the hospital rules were quite different. Parents had to say goodbye to their children in a surgery holding area and were not allowed into the recovery room after their children woke up. I would often be with children just before they went into surgery, when they first came out and even in the operating room sometimes. But there is one thing that has not changed and that is the superb care given to children and their families.
I am often asked the reason for my longevity as a volunteer. My answer is simple: the surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and other staff at Children’s are simply the best. I have never witnessed one instance where patients and their families were not treated with the utmost care and respect.
Whatever I have given to this hospital pales in comparison to what it has done for me. I have a wonderful family and many interests and involvements, yet those moments when I can be of assistance to families during a stressful time in the surgical waiting room have defined my life. The gratification is impossible to fully describe, and I have been touched by so many families over the years.
It has been a privilege to be associated with this very special institution, and I look forward to an exciting future when Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago opens in 2012. I’ve taken a tour of the building, and it’s going to be a wonderful facility. What will make it really special, though, will be the people who work there — the same people who have made Children’s such a special place over the years.
This article first appeared in the winter 2010 issue of Heroes magazine.