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Lutheran General benefits from MW alumni workers and student support

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Maine West Alumni Jenna McDade, of the class of 2005, has had her fair share of experience in the world of healthcare. Since 2009, McDade has worked at Lutheran General Hospital as a registered respiratory therapist, emergency room nurse, and most recently as a part of the Advocate Children’s Hospital critical care transport team. 

“When I am working at LGH, we get to work and meet in our centralized department. We check where we are working for the day and then go to that unit for report,” said McDade. “When I am at transport, we meet at our dispatch center, do rig/bag and equipment checks, and wait for calls.  From there we leave our dispatch center to pick up our patients via ground or air and take them to either our Park Ridge or Oak Lawn campus of Advocate Children’s Hospital.”

This was McDade’s regular experience at the hospital, but since the spread of COVID-19, she’s had to jump into a new schedule. As a registered respiratory therapist, she plays a crucial role in supporting those in critical care. “Right now we are overwhelmed caring for all the intubated patients. We run and manage the ventilators amidst other non-COVID related situation. We also obtain arterial blood samples that tell us about a patient’s respiratory status.  Basically anywhere there is a critically ill patient right now, we are there supporting their airway and breathing.”

With such conditions, McDade describes the hospital atmosphere as “a bit chaotic at times. Since COVID-19, it is an ever-changing environment. Policies, procedures, information is constantly changing and evolving…  In all of my experience within Advocate, I have always felt we have each other’s backs and fully support each other, especially in times of crisis like this. I have found that especially times like these we are extra supportive of each other and work really well as a team.” 

Recently, however, it isn’t only McDade’s team coming alongside her, but Maine West math teacher John Butterfield and a handful of his math students. With the help of both Butterfield and McDade, students were able to send letters of support and encouragement to those working in the most intense areas of the hospital. 

Butterfield was first inspired to reach out after hearing about the efforts of fellow math teacher Amy Klaus, who encouraged her students to write uplifting emails to senior citizens. “When Klaus told me about this in the PLT I thought, ‘man that’s really neat,” said Butterfield. “Jenna McDade is a former student and we’re friends on Facebook so her post came up, talking about how crazy it’s getting in the hospitals, how stressed out people are so I sent her a message.” After reaching out, Butterfield was able to organize students’ letters, all of which incorporated the clever phrase, “Your Effort Counts,” and send them to McDade to deliver to the hospital. 

“I thought it was a great idea, and I’m glad he did this,” said Junior Jane Rothweiler. “They deserve so much recognition for all their hard work. I wrote them all a letter saying how much we all appreciate [them] and how it’s such a hard time right now, but we’re going to get through it.” 

Junior Oscar Chipres shared a similar opinion, saying, “I thought it was pretty cool, to be honest. I think he was the only teacher that actually tried doing it… I just said thank you for putting their lives on the line, there’s not a lot of people who would do that…  It’s brave of them.”

Another Junior, Isabella Hydzik, had a very personal connection to the letters, as her mother and other close friends are working in the med field at this time. “One of our family friends got coronavirus because she is a nurse. Even though I can’t fight on the front lines, because I want to go into the med field, I might as well try to make a difference in people’s lives.” 

McDade shared the excited reaction of those working in the ER, the Radiology dept., the Respiratory Care dept., Emergency dept. Registration, and Environmental Services, saying “Everyone was so happy and appreciative. It’s so nice to feel appreciated by the community we are serving during COVID.” Undeniably, we are faced with unprecedented times– luckily, this event has brought out some of the best in the Maine West community and it goes to show that a little kindness goes a long way. 

Photos by : Jenna McDade

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MEET

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