Silver Cross celebrates first holiday season at new site
By Tony Graf firstname.lastname@example.org December 24, 2012 7:06PM
Lynne Daly, pediatric unit shift coordinator, talks about donated items that will be handed out during the holidays at Silver Cross Hospital Monday, Dec. 24, 2012, in New Lenox. | Matthew Grotto~Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 26, 2013 6:17AM
Lynne Daly searched through the room full of donated toys in the pediatric unit at Silver Cross Hospital, which is celebrating its first Christmas at its new location in New Lenox.
Santa has really come through for children in the pediatric unit this year — as well as their siblings, said Daly, shift coordinator.
On Monday, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve dropped off donations from the Toys for Tots program. The day before, the Joliet and New Lenox fire departments dropped off toys. Church groups, schools and individual families have stepped forward to make Christmas special at Silver Cross.
“We have plenty of gifts for our kids, both inpatient and outpatient,” Daly said. “The church groups have been just incredible.”
One church group brought in 50 gift bags. An area hotel brought in blankets. Another group donated Pillow Pets. Local businesses from the Joliet and New Lenox areas were busy elves this year.
Ruth Colby, senior vice president, observed the nurses searching through the gifts and commended them for their hard work year-round.
“Here it is, Christmas Eve, and they’re here taking care of patients,” Colby said. “They’re dressed to keep people’s spirits up. They bring them Christmas joy.”
“They’re dressed to keep kids comfortable,” said Mary Bakken, chief operating officer, discussing the nurses’ holiday-themed clothing.
2012 at Silver Cross
In the broader scope of 2012, Christmas is the frosting on the Santa cookie for Silver Cross Hospital. This has been a memorable year.
On Feb. 26, the hospital moved to its new location, at Interstate 355 and Route 6 in New Lenox, after more than a century at its Maple Road site in Joliet.
Almost 10 months after the move-in date, the $400 million, six-story hospital is thriving, Bakken said.
“We are serving so many more patients this year than last year, throughout the entire hospital,” Bakken said. “The feedback we’re receiving from the community about our hospital is outstanding. We’re busier than ever.”
In the lobby on Monday, The Herald-News met with hospital volunteers Lillian Mazur, Gerry Wurzburger and Stuart Swift, along with Cindy Cavato, service ambassador.
They reflected on the big changes in 2012, noting that Silver Cross now serves a greater population; has easy access to the I-355 tollway; offers services under one roof, with Pavilions A, B and C all connected to the hospital; has a gift shop in the main lobby; and also has upgraded dining options.
They said the new facility makes a positive first impression, and the lobby creates a warm feeling, with a volunteer staff ready to help people in times of need.
Christmas 2011 marked the final holiday season that the hospital’s main campus was in Joliet. Longtime employees Gwen Ulmer and Carol Banas-Hicks gave The Herald-News a tour of the century-old campus. They reflected on memories from their combined 70-plus years at the Maple Road site.
They noted that the limestone Maltese Cross, from the historic part of the Joliet campus, would be placed in the new building, continuing history forward. The cross is the symbol of the hospital’s founding organization, the Will County Union of King’s Daughters and Sons.
Today, the Maltese Cross is on display in the main entrance of the new hospital.
Banas-Hicks and Ulmer’s story appeared on the front page of The Herald-News one year ago, on Christmas Day 2011.
So what else has changed since then?
Well, first things first. There’s a new Santa in town.
Last year, students from nearby Gompers Junior High School took a caroling tour of the Maple Road campus. Tremaine Dean, then an eighth-grader, dressed as Santa.
Tremaine was mentored by the previous Santa, and would in turn mentor the next Santa. That next Santa is here.
Gabriel Hernandez, an eighth-grader, is the Santa at Gompers for 2012. He discussed the tradition with The Herald-News while caroling last week.
The next priority — important to anyone who has undertaken Santa responsibilities — is coffee.
There are now two coffee outlets at the new Silver Cross Hospital: The Starbucks and the new Java City, which is located between Pavilions A and B.
Biannca Banister, a barista at Java City, wore reindeer antlers during her shift on Monday. Elegantly decorated Christmas trees lined the walls between the pavilions.
The tradition of decking the halls at Silver Cross remains the same: Every floor has its own Christmas tree, right by the elevator. The Childerguild Gift Shop is decorated. And in the evening, all the trees in the driveway are lit with elegant white lights — a subtle design that creates the right holiday mood.