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Sen. Dick Durbin tours future NICU at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox Wednesday

During a news conference, Durbin shared his affinity for newborns who need care

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois (front, left) toured the future Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross in New Lenox on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Durbin spoke about his affinity for newborns who need special care at the hospital following the tour. Pictured in the background is (from left), State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort Silver Cross Hospital President and CEO Ruth Colby, and Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin paid a visit to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox Wednesday to tour the future Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross.

Durbin, D-Illinois, also talked with future NICU and other staff at Silver Cross. State Sen. Michael Hastings, D-Frankfort, and Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant also were present at the event.

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois (front, left) toured the future Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross in New Lenox on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Durbin is pictured with Silver Cross Hospital President and CEO Ruth Colby.

In March, Durbin and U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, secured a $500,000 grant for Silver Cross in support of the future NICU. This future level 3 NICU will provide advanced care for premature newborns and newborns with congenital disorders.

The future NICU also will help address the infant mortality rate in the areas Silver Cross serves. According to the 2020 March of Dimes Report Card, 11.1% of babies in Will County are born premature, which is high compared with the rest of the U.S. Moreover, 58% of patients in Silver Cross’ total service area receive high-risk neonatal care elsewhere.

“Last year, we had to transfer more than 50 babies by ambulance or helicopter to other hospitals for a higher level of care,” Marilyn Paollella, now-retired director of maternal and child services, said on the Silver Cross website in 2021, according to a 2021 Herald-News story. “This can be very stressful for parents and grandparents as they are separated from their baby for weeks and even months during what can be a touch-and-go situation.”

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois toured the future Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross in New Lenox on Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Durbin (front right) is pictured with Silver Cross Hospital President and CEO Ruth Colby (third from left) along with several of Silver Cross' future NICU staff and physicians. Pictured, from left are Chris Henneberry; Dr. Corryn Greenwood, neonatologist and medical director; Michael Mutterer, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer; Rebecca Kole, director; Dr. Kristina Baumker, neonatologist; Durbin; Will County Executive Jennifer Bertino-Tarrant; and Dr. Brett Galley, neonatologist, Lurie Neonatal Outreach.

The future NICU will be adjacent to Silver Cross’ Women and Infant Services Birthing Center and will feature 24 private, single-family rooms.

During a news conference after the tour, Durbin shared his affinity for newborns, especially those who require specialized care. Durbin’s daughter Christine was born with a congenital heart disorder. She required weeks of specialized care at the former Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, now Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

In fact, Silver Cross’ future NICU is modeled after the unit at Lurie. A team of Lurie neonatologists will staff the NICU 24 hours a day, seven days and week. The NICU also will be supported by Lurie neonatal nurse practitioners.

Tom and Michele Vana made an undisclosed transformational gift to support Silver Cross’s NICU. Michele’s inspiration for supporting Silver Cross’ NICU derived from the birth of her premature triplets: Amy, Jay and Matthew Vana. The triplets weighed less than 2 pounds each when they were born in 1995 and received care in a NICU.

So the idea of having a NICU close to home in Will County “just tugged on my heartstrings” and will be “such a gift to the community,” Michele said in a 2021 Herald-News story.

CITGO Lemont Refinery recently presented a $5,000 check to the Silver Cross Foundation in support of Silver Cross Hospital’s future level 3 NICU, according to a news release from CITGO.

CITGO Lemont Refinery recently presented a $5,000 check to the Silver Cross Foundation in support of Silver Cross Hospital’s new level 3 neonatal intensive care unit. Pictured receiving the check are Ruth Colby, Silver Cross Hospital's president and CEO (second from the left) and Tracy Simons, executive director of the Silver Cross Foundation, (third from left).

The Silver Cross Foundation will host a “baby shower” April 28 to benefit the future NICU. The inaugural Silver Social “Celebrating New Beginnings” event will be 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at CD & ME in Frankfort.

Tickets for the Silver Social are $125 and include lunch, raffle and program and a “big reveal” of the new NICU.

To buy Silver Social tickets, go to silvercross.org/giving/events/silver-social or call the Silver Cross Foundation at 815-300-7105.