Suffredin- Changing County Government  
 

Accountability
Forest Preserves
Public Safety
Cook County Budget
Forest Pres. Budget
Property Tax Appeal
Health & Hospitals
Land Bank Authority
Policy Resolutions
Unsung Heroine

 

   
 
   
   
 
   
     
  Office phone numbers:  
   
 
 

The Cook County Code of Ordinances are the current laws of Cook County.

   
 

Search current and proposed Cook County Legislation in Larry's exclusive legislative library.

   
  The Cook County Law Library is the second largest County law library in the nation.
   
     
     
     



Amid the Ailing and Uninsured, Hospital Chaplain Finds New Faith

Thursday, December 02, 2010
Chicago News Cooperative
by James Warren

Standing in a hallway at Stroger Hospital on Wednesday morning, Dr. Stathis Poulakidas began a weekly status report on the mostly horrific cases in the burn unit he runs.

There was a 70-year-old woman whose nightgown had caught fire as she reached over her stove. A 21-year-old man who had fallen on an el track’s third rail. A 34-year-old man who, when intoxicated, had been dragged under a bus. A 7-month-old girl who had somehow been lodged between a radiator and a wall.

Analyzing them and others — and discussing transfusions, ventilators and skin grafts to repair physical damage — he was surrounded and assisted by 12 professionals, including nurses, residents, an infectious disease specialist, a pharmacist and a physical therapist.

And there was one colleague, Carol Reese, there to minister to the soul.

Her hospital I.D. labels her “violence prevention coordinator,” as does the Cook County budget line with her position. But Ms. Reese’s white coat is emblazoned with a more accurate description: chaplain.

She is the first paid chaplain in the 144-year history of the sprawling medical center known to most as Cook County — part inspiration for television’s “E.R.” and a longtime destination for a largely poor, minority and uninsured urban population tended to by a valiant, highly competent and often-overworked medical staff. Its $500 million in annual uncompensated care dwarfs that of any other Illinois hospital.

On Friday, Stroger will be the unconventional site of a solemn event: Ms. Reese’s ordination as an Episcopal minister. The ceremony will be led by the nation’s top Episcopalian, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first woman to hold that post in the church’s 400-plus-year history. The event will underscore the intersection of faith and medicine, and represents the church’s support for Ms. Reese’s labor on behalf of the uninsured and disenfranchised.

As the minister of her North Side parish, Bonnie Perry of All Saints Episcopal Church, put it, Ms. Reese “has been ministering to people living on the edge.”

Many hospitals, especially those with religious affiliations, have paid chaplains and even 24-hour pastoral care. That’s not true at Stroger, which has relied on volunteer chaplains, including Jesuits, who have had a presence there for about a century.

An agreement to establish a paid position resulted from negotiations among county commissioners and religious leaders. The latter included Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos, chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago, who was then president of the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago.

“I knew of her work, and it just wasn’t acceptable not to have services there,” he said. “Now the hospital needs a full-time office.”

Ms. Reese, 54, was raised a Southern Baptist in rural Missouri, and later moved to Arkansas and Kentucky. She earned master’s degrees in divinity and social work, then came to Chicago in 1986 to work for the Baptists at Stroger, focusing on H.I.V. and AIDS patients.

She left to lead the AIDS Pastoral Care Network for 12 years, along the way making a break with the Baptists. They had become too conservative for her theological liking and, as a gay woman, she felt out of place.

Her partner, Jeanne Wirpsa, the chaplain at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, is an Episcopalian. So Ms. Reese went that route, too. They are the parents of two children.

Ms. Reese became an Episcopal chaplain, though not ordained, and in 2005 returned to the Stroger trauma and burn units, which function as one. She finds patients who are often “outside the realm of respectability for most churches” but who cite faith as helping them survive their ordeals.

As usual, Dr. Poulakidas was assisted at Wednesday’s informal but systematic session by Dr. Areta Kowal-Vern, director of the burn research and tissue bank. Every aspect of each patient’s care was discussed, even debated. Then it was Ms. Reese’s turn.

In the case of a 33-year-old man, burned in a garage fire, she recounted her dealings with a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses, who cited their faith in disapproving of blood transfusions. Ultimately, they consented but would not sign any legal documents, a compromise approved by hospital lawyers.

The inherent stress can get to the medical staff who, like Dr. Poulakidas, will seek her help. But it can also get to her.

A 16-year-old with a gunshot wound to the back of the head was dying when his family agreed to remove him from a ventilator. But they said their farewells and exited before it was removed. A distressed Ms. Reese was left to hold his hand and weep as he breathed his last breath.

“He looked so perfectly normal,” the chaplain recalled. “So normal.”

jwarren@chicagonewscoop.org



Recent Headlines

Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas on unclaimed property tax exemptions: ” Most seniors didn’t know that they could get it.”
Friday, July 19, 2019
WGN Chicago

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?’
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Tribune

EDITORIAL: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but we sure know your type
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Commissioner Luis Arroyo says he got a friend’s parking ticket voided
Friday, July 19, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago-Area Cooling Centers Offer Residents Chance to Beat the Heat
Thursday, July 18, 2019
NBC 5 Chicago

Editorial: ‘Do you know who I am?’ Not yet, but the people of Cook County deserve to find out.
Thursday, July 18, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Top Forest Preserve cop quits after burying ticket of county pol’s pal who asked ‘Do you know who I am?
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Sun-Times

Chicago’s top cop ‘must stop misleading the public’ about violence, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle says in heated letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
Chicago Tribune

‘Do you know who I am?’ Investigators say Cook County commissioner pressed cops to scrap ally’s $250 parking ticket
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

IG: Cook County needs revamp on sexual harassment outside of work following allegations against Preckwinkle ex-chief of staff
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Higher Assessments Hit North Suburban Commercial Property Owners
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Evanston Patch

How did an inmate get a loaded gun into Cook County Jail?
Thursday, July 11, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Check exemptions, file an appeal: What you can do to fight your Cook County property tax bill
Thursday, July 11, 2019
WGN Chicago

’A lack of mental health services has plagued Chicago for decades’: Holy Cross Hospital expanding to fill that void on the Southwest Side
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Chicago Tribune

Construction Begins on New Cook County Health Center
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
Daily Herald

How To Appeal Your Cook County Property Tax Assessment
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

County Commission Hopes to Increase 2020 Census Participation
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
WTTW News

Cook County Property Tax Bills: Where Does Your Money Go?
Wednesday, July 10, 2019
CBS Chicago

Seniors Receive Inflated Property Tax Bills By Mistake
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
WBBM Radio

Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts’ property tax appeal under investigation after Tribune finds assessment problem
Tuesday, July 09, 2019
Chicago Tribune

all news items

Paid for by Larry Suffredin and not at taxpayer expense. A Haymarket Production.
^ TOP