New Lenox residents Tom and Michele Vana recently made an undisclosed transformational gift to support Will County’s only Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opening in 2022 at Silver Cross Hospital.
The NICU will be first of its kind in Will County and will provide advanced care for premature newborns and full-term babies with congenital disorders. In recognition of their generous support, the facility will be named the Amy, Matthew, and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross Hospital after the couple’s triplets.
“Michele and Tom understand the importance of having advanced neonatal care close to home,” said Ruth Colby, President/CEO of Silver Cross Hospital. “We are so thankful for their generous support that will ensure specialized care is always available for families who live in this region.”
“This is especially close to our hearts,” said Michele Vana. “Tom and I want to ensure that other parents don’t have to experience what we went through; the stress of making the long trip back and forth to Chicago for months to be with their tiny, sick newborns every day. Our investment, along with that of others, ensures that children and families will have access to the best neonatal care nearby.”
“This is our way of saying thank you to Silver Cross for all the support and friendship they have shown our family over the years,” added Tom Vana.
Labor of Love
This is the couple’s second significant gift to Silver Cross. In 2017, along with Tom’s mother Marilyn Kurtz, the Vanas invested in the enhancement and expansion of the hospital’s emergency services and paramedic-training program.
The Vanas close ties to Silver Cross date back more than three decades, when Tom and Michele met in Silver Cross Hospital’s Emergency Department. Michele was working as a nurse and Tom worked as a paramedic for his family’s business – Kurtz Ambulance Service – and as a funeral director for Kurtz Memorial Chapels. They married in 1990.
Tom and Michele were overjoyed when they learned they were expecting triplets. At the same time, they were anxious as this was considered a high-risk pregnancy and delivery and would require a level of care not available at any nearby hospitals. Then, just 29 weeks into her pregnancy, Michele went into premature labor delivering Amy, Jay, and Matthew on Oct. 10, 1995. Each weighed less than two pounds and required months of intensive care.
“It was very difficult as our babies didn’t all come home at the same time,” said Michele.
“Tom would relieve me after working a 24-hour shift. After eight weeks, I went back to work in the ER. We were exhausted traveling back and forth downtown, but we weren’t going to leave our babies.”
Advanced Neonatal Care
Silver Cross recently received approval from the State of Illinois to upgrade from a Level IIE specialty care nursery to a Level III neonatal intensive care. The 24-bed NICU will be located on the third floor of the hospital’s new addition adjacent to the birthing center and feature all single-family private rooms.
Modeled after Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago’s NICU, it will offer a quiet environment for sleep and recovery as well as space for parents to be intimately involved in their baby’s care. Other features include a family lounge and rooms for parents to spend the night before the baby is discharged, consultations with specialists, minor procedures and feeding preparation. Patients will be safely cared for 24/7 by a team of highly skilled neonatologists, neonatal nurses, therapists, and other caregivers and have immediate access to Lurie Children’s Hospital pediatric medical and surgical subspecialists. The hospital’s NICU will open in winter 2022.
“With nearly 3,000 births each year, Silver Cross truly is the “baby hospital” of Will County,” Colby added. “Our NICU ensures that babies with special needs can receive all the care they need under one roof, and families can stay together close to home.”
For more information or to make a charitable donation to support Silver Cross Hospital’s NICU, visit www.silvercross.org or call the Silver Cross Foundation at (815) 300-7105.
Silver Cross Hospital
1900 Silver Cross Blvd
New Lenox, IL