UIC College of Nursing, donors team up to celebrate UI Health nurses for National Nurses Week
As a show of gratitude and appreciation, the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing and Dean Terri Weaver will celebrate National Nurses Week by providing meals to the nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital, an initiative made possible through a generous gift from husband and wife donors, Frank Naeymi-Rad and Dr. Theresa Kepic, as well as Leap of Faith Technologies Inc.
The donation kickstarts National Nurses Week, May 6-12, and will supply 2,500 healthy, individually wrapped meals to the nurses at the hospital. Meals will be served at breakfast, lunch and dinner to include nurses working in all shifts.
“Never have nurses deserved our gratitude more than this year,” Weaver said. “They are risking their own health and safety, and that of their families, as they put patient care first during this [COVID-19] health crisis. We deeply appreciate that donors the stature of Frank and Theresa are stepping up to help us thank our nurse colleagues.”
Naeymi-Rad is the founder and chairman of Intelligent Medical Objects (IMO®) Inc., and Kepic is a retired obstetrics and gynecology physician who practiced at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center in North Chicago. In 2019, they acquired Leap of Faith Technologies to support the next generation of innovation in medical informatics. Leap of Faith Technologies is a health informatics company that integrates technology, content and innovative delivery methods to enhance health care experiences, improve patient compliance and health care outcomes.
“No words can describe the contribution of our clinical community to our state and country at these challenging times,” Naeymi-Rad said. “COVID-19 is a wakeup call for humanity and has highlighted the important role our nurses play in our lives. While this pandemic is affecting everyone in the world, it is important that we focus on our community and support our frontline soldiers — our nurses — in this war.”
Nurses are critical to the fight against the coronavirus, serving in every health arena and at every point of care: in emergency rooms, ICUs and recovery wards; from triaging, to testing, to bedside care. Their compassionate care is even more critical now, when hospitals are restricting visitors, and health care providers — particularly nurses — may be the only caregivers that patients see.
“We are learning a lot as our health care delivery teams risk their lives for us, and it is becoming clear how important nursing education and training are in meeting such an unprecedented challenge,” Naeymi-Rad said. “The UIC College of Nursing is a key training asset in our state. Theresa and I are honored to give our support now and into the future, supporting research initiatives with Leap of Faith Technologies Inc.”
“Nurses Week is a time to thank, honor and show our appreciation to our nurses,” said Shelly Major, chief nursing officer for UI Health. “They are working very hard during these uncertain times, and receiving a meal is much appreciated. The thoughtfulness of the college and the donors does not go unrecognized!”
Nurses working at the University of Illinois Hospital say gifts like this one fortify them to carry on and let them know their work is valued. Clinical assistant professor Julie Schwind is one of the many UIC Nursing faculty, alumni and students who have been working on the frontlines. Because staffing needs have grown, Schwind has been working 12-hour shifts in the neuro stepdown unit. She said nurses are spending more time giving emotional support to patients and speaking to family members on the phone.
“There’s an amazing spirit among the nurses of UIC,” Schwind said. “There’s so much support for each other going on. I cannot think of a crew of people more deserving of a special thanks. It absolutely is wonderful when you are physically and emotionally tired to not have to think of food; to know someone thought of you. When you spend so much time caring for others, it’s nice to have some of that care being directed back at you.”
Written by Deborah Ziff Soriano