ER team at Silver Cross New Lenox puts patients first in often chaotic environment

Jill Pateros, Silver Cross: ‘Their dedication to patient care is just incredible’

Dr. Mark Bamman gets reports at the start of his evening shift at the Silver Cross Emergency Department on Thursday, April 18, 2024 in New Lenox.

“Champions.” That is how Jill Pateros, director of emergency services at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, refers to the hospital’s emergency medicine providers.

Two of those champions are emergency medicine doctors with EM Strategies, who treat patients in Silver Cross’ emergency department.

Pateros said Dr. Matthew McCormick champions sepsis care in the emergency department. And Dr. Mark Bamman is Silver Cross’ “pediatric champion” for the emergency department because of his collaboration with other doctors and his “bedside manner.”

Sepsis, a body’s extreme response to an infection, is a life-threatening medical emergency, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And yet, McCormick also is skilled at lightening the mood in the emergency department, Pateros said.

“He makes the environment a much better place to learn because of his personality.”

Pateros said Bammon is just an “all-around great guy. [He is] great with families and always looking to make our care better, which I very much appreciate.”

McCormick and Bammon “are always willing to pitch in where needed and willing to teach and learn and grow together,” Pateros said.

“The emergency department is very chaotic, and we’re very task-oriented. It’s very easy not to collaborate and just go through all the motions,” Pateros said. “But these two are very good at pulling people together and going through cases – debriefing – and walking away with lessons learned, which is very, very important for growth.”

However, the “unsung heroes of the emergency room” are the paramedics, who deliver a higher level of care than even the nurses, Pateros said. If both a paramedic and a nurse responded to a medical emergency on the streets, the paramedic would actually have more authority, he said.

“Please trust in the system, because from the moment you walk in those doors until you’re seen – no matter how long you’ve waited – you are being watched and triaged the entire time, and you will be protected by the ER department.”

—  Matthew McCormick, emergency medicine doctor at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox

In Silver Cross’ emergency department, paramedics perform “a lot of behind-the-scenes work” and serve as “an extra set of eyes” when the situation calls for it, Pateros said.

“Their skills are incredible. A lot of times, these medics are steering the care before the nurse even gets there.”

He said some Silver Cross’ paramedics also perform the same role with fire departments and work at Silver Cross as their second job.

“Their dedication to patient care is just incredible,” Pateros said.

Dr. Mark Bamman

Bamman said he “embraced” emergency medicine because he likes the challenge of treating patients with acute problems while collaborating with colleagues and listening carefully to patients to provide the best care.

“It’s impactful work,” Bamman said. “These people are sometimes in unstable conditions, and I get to treat them to the best of my abilities. That’s pretty rewarding for me.”

Bamman is the father of children ages 7 and 5, so he has a special place in his heart for pediatric emergency medicine, he said. Children require special treatment because they are not miniature adults. On top of that, children’s actual physiology changes are different developmental levels, he said.

Also, children may not have the skills to adequately communicate what exactly is wrong with them, Bamman said.

“It’s a special population,” Bamman said. “Innately, we seem to want to make sure we give them the best possible outcomes. No one ever likes to see something bad happen to children.”

While treating children, Bamman also works to ease their parents’ anxiety.

“It’s rewarding when you’re able to put a parent’s mind at ease and let them know their kids will be OK and that you’re going to take good care of them,” Bamman said.

He said the interpersonal skills he’s gained through working in Silver Cross’ emergency department make him a better doctor, as well as a better person. He praised Silver Cross’ nurses and his colleagues at EM Strategies for their care of patients.

“We’re a community-based hospital, but we’re a very high functional community hospital who does the bread-and-butter things well,” Bamman said. “We’re not Mayo Clinic and we’re not a tertiary care or university care setting. But our doctors do an outstanding job, and I’m very proud of them.”

Dr. Matthew McCormick

McCormick’s father was an orthopedic surgeon, so McCormick grew up spending time in the hospital surrounded by doctors, which is how he said he learned about the “very unique field” of emergency medicine.

“You are on the front line of medicine making quick decisions in real time to protect and save people’s lives and uncover emergent medical conditions that you can actually treat in real time,” McCormick said. “It’s very rewarding in that regard because you get to see the help you can give to somebody when they may need it most.”

McCormick said sepsis often is difficult to diagnose because its initial signs may be complex and subtle. However, sepsis is deadly if not caught and treated quickly.

“Immediate diagnosis and proper treatment of sepsis is absolutely essential in order to stabilize the patient,” McCormick said.

McCormick, who came to Silver Cross in 2012 when it was a “brand-new hospital” in New Lenox, understands patients’ frustration when they wait hours in the emergency department for care.

But the system is designed to be as thorough and efficient as possible to make sure patients don’t have something serious, life-threatening or need immediate care and hospitalization, McCormick said.

“I can only say to those patients to please trust in the system, because from the moment you walk in those doors until you’re seen – no matter how long you’ve waited – you are being watched and triaged the entire time and you will be protected by the ER department,” McCormick said. “So have faith in the emergency department and the doctors and nurses that work there, because we are specifically and highly trained to do nothing more than protect you. The system that is in place is very detailed behind the scenes and it has many checks and balances behind the scenes.”

At the same time, McCormick said he’s learned much from the patients he’s treated.

“You learn that life is fragile and you learn that each day is uncertain and to never take anything for granted and that the best way people can and should live is by embracing and living each day as if it were their last.”

Mykala Doty

Mykala Doty became a paramedic at Silver Cross Hospital nearly two years ago. A former certified nurse assistant at Silver Cross, Doty said she became burned out during the COVID-19 pandemic and turned to emergency medicine to “reignite my passion” for health care.”

“I fell in love with it,” Doty said. “I love being able to make my own decisions for my patients and make the best decisions for them in that moment and the best course of treatment.”

Doty said she’s learned not to latch onto anyone presenting symptoms but to “take a step back and look at the whole picture” when tending to patients. Doty said anyone wanting to become a paramedic should “follow your heart.”

“It isn’t for everyone,” Doty said. “But if you feel it’s something you are meant to do, take the steps toward it.”

Megan Kerulis

Kerulis, a paramedic at Silver Cross, said she was 18 when her father, a former volunteer firefighter, piqued her interest in the medical field.

“Dad got really sick when I was in high school,” Kerulis said. “He was bedridden and went through a really traumatic event, and I took care of my dad. That made me realize I really like taking care of people.”

Now 30, Kerulis still loves emergency medical services, and “you always learn something new.”

“I think you just learn a lot and never see the same thing twice,” Kerulis said. “It’s really exciting and you know that you are helping people on the worst day of their life, typically. Hopefully, you make it better by taking care of them and reassuring them in the emergency room.”

Kerulis feels empathy is an important part of her job.

“You never know what someone else is going through,” she said. “So just be understanding and be patient and try to see things from their point of view.”

Michelle Prosser

Michelle Prosser, a paramedic for 20 years, said her father was a police officer, and that inspired her to help people. However, Prosser said she chose “the medical aspect” of treating people “on the worst day of their life” for one good reason: “You feel like you’re making an immediate difference.”

Prosser’s strategy for compassionate care is to treat each patient like family, the way she’d want her grandmother, or even herself, treated in that situation, she said. So Prosser said she typically talks with her patients when riding in the ambulance with them.

Nevertheless, paramedics must care for themselves, too, even when “giving it their all,” she said. Paramedics do plenty of lifting, balancing and carrying, and that can take a toll over time.

“Protect your body because it’s very hard on your joints,” Prosser said.