Maywood, Ill. – A steaming cup of tea, TV reruns murmuring in the background and snuggling in the coziest blanket you can find are all necessities for a sick day. Loyola University Health System’s Pastoral Care Department is helping bring these simple, but significant comforts into the hospital to people dealing with some of life’s greatest challenges. One of the main efforts is providing hand-made fleece blankets to patients and families who need extra reassurance.
“We wanted a tangible way of showing Loyola’s values to our patients dealing with a difficult transition,” said Lawrence Reuter, S.J., vice president for mission and ministry.
“When we thought about what ‘we also treat the human spirit’ might look like for us in pastoral care, this emerged as a concrete way to demonstrate this special Loyola promise.”
Distributed across the health system, the blankets have been given to people from all walks of life.
“As chaplains we are privileged to hear people’s stories and learn what gives them hope, meaning and purpose,” said Marie Coglianese, director of pastoral care. “Sometimes the simplest act of getting someone a cold Pepsi or a warm blanket can make all the difference.”
Chaplain James Creighton, S.J., had formed a friendship with a patient facing difficult psychological issues. They trusted one another and when the man was to be released from the hospital he told the Father he was scared to go outside in the cold.
“I brought the most colorful blanket I could find and gave it to him. He looked at me with utter delight and said, ‘I finally have something to keep my feet warm. The hardest thing is trying to keep my feet warm,’” Father Creighton recalled. “It was so simple, yet made such a difference. It was an amazing experience.”
Chaplain Fran Glowinski was able to provide comfort to a woman who was in rehabilitation after an accident and had recently lost her husband to cancer.
“She was emotionally distraught,” said Glowinski. “When I gave her the blanket I saw a peace come over her. She wrapped it around herself and said, ‘It’s my Joe. It’s like he’s giving me a hug.’”
A six-year-old girl finding solace after receiving difficult news, a respite for a woman fighting for her life in the intensive care unit. They are even the first blankets received by Loyola’s littlest patients in the neonatal intensive care unit. Like the blankets themselves the stories weave a beautiful image of love, care and support.
“Every story touches me. We are blessed that we get to be a part of their lives,” said Kathleen Brannigan, chaplain. “We hope this makes them feel well-cared-for and helps them know they are not alone in this struggle. The blankets symbolize them being enveloped, embraced by the Loyola community on their journey.”
The blankets are lovingly made by volunteers. Sarah McCann, 12, and Molly McNeelely, 14, raised money for the material and made blankets for their service projects as they prepared for the Sacrament of Confirmation projects. Joanne Kusy, administrative assistant for the department, also found it a heartwarming way to provide additional care to patients.
“It makes me smile knowing that each blanket is going to bring someone comfort,” said Joanne.
For media inquires, please contact Evie Polsley at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (708) 216-5313.
Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, Loyola University Health System is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and 25 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 561-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola’s Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-bed community hospital, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness and the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Care Center.