MAYWOOD, Ill. – The moment she walked into her mother’s house Lombard resident Julie Fuentes knew something was wrong. Having been a nurse for 12 years the symptoms were like a neon sign flashing, “Stroke!”
“She couldn’t talk and kept dropping things. I knew I needed to get her to a hospital right away,” said Fuentes.
What was first believed to be a minor stroke quickly escalated and Fuentes’ mother, Barbara Naurath, was transported to Loyola University Hospital to receive care from Jose Biller, MD, stroke expert and chair of the Department of Neurology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
“I knew he was brilliant and would give my mom the care she needed, but what really impressed me was how compassionate and understanding he was,” said Fuentes. “He greeted us the moment my family walked through the door, explained the situation in a way we all could understand and kindly answered all our questions.”
Naurath was in the hospital for two months. Fuentes was continually impressed with the kindness and care from the entire hospital staff.
“My mom had a lot of medical problems and it seemed like she saw almost every doctor in the hospital. Each one was understanding and took time to ensure we knew what was going on,” said Fuentes. “The nurses, the techs, the residents- -everyone took such great care of my mom. My dad was so impressed that he made it clear that he didn’t want my mom to get medical care anywhere but Loyola.”
What impressed her most was the individual attention and compassion from Dr. Biller. Even when called out of the country for a family emergency Dr. Biller kept in contact with the family through his nurse Linda Chadwick and received daily updates on Naurath’s progress via e-mail.
“There is no one who is more of a VIP than our patients,” Biller said.
Fuentes said, “I’m a life-time member of the Biller cheering section. I credit him with saving my mom’s life and wanted to find a way to say ‘thank you’ for all he’s done.”
The answer came when she was talking to the girls in Brownie Troop 590 in Villa Park, Ill.
“As a troop leader I try to help the girls understand the importance of helping others. When I told them the story of how Dr. Biller helped my mom I realized giving something to hospital patients would be the perfect way to say thanks,” said Fuentes.
The girls used a portion of the money they raised selling cookies to purchase materials to make 24 blankets for babies in Loyola’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit as well as the adult Intensive Care Unit. Each blanket is accompanied by a special letter from the girls in the Brownie troop stating that the blankets were made in honor of Dr. Biller.
“They were so excited to know that even though they’re kids they can make a difference in someone’s life,” said Fuentes.
Recently, Fuentes surprised Dr. Biller by presenting him with the blankets the girls had made.
“I was very surprised and touched,” Biller said.
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.