Prevention programs, screenings, and other health information

Morgan Park Sports Center for Fitness and Fun

The Morgan Park Sports Center, 11505 S. Western, offers a variety of ways for area residents to pursue fitness and fun. The complex houses an NHL size ice rink with seating for 1,200 spectators, state -of-the-art gymnastics center, and busy fitness studio, and offers classes and programs, as well as competitive teams. Owned by the Chicago Park District and managed by SMG (which also manages Soldier Field), the Center is ADA accessible and open 7 days a week. Online registration for winter classes begins Tues., Jan. 2 at, and in-person registration starts Sat., Jan. 6, 10 a.m. The winter session begins Jan. 22. Find the class schedule at


Under the supervision of Hockey Director John Gannon, the Center offers co-ed USA Hockey programs that include American Developmental Model (ADM) learn-to-skate and hockey skill-building classes that start with tots, and team hockey for four age levels beginning at age 8 and continuing to age 14. This is the first season for the Chicago Horned Frogs Youth Hockey Club. There are six youth teams with room for more, Gannon said. Adult teams compete throughout the metropolitan area in the Northwest Hockey League.

According to Gannon, hockey is great exercise and good for developing hand/eye coordination and learning the life lessons of team play. It’s also a commitment — the Horned Frogs are on the ice three times a week.

High school hockey teams practice at the Center, and skate times are also scheduled for Stick n’ Puck and Rat Hockey scrimmages.

Gannon has Level 5 coaching certification from USA Hockey, and a long history as a player and coach.

Figure Skating

Figure skating programs focus on building skills and start with classes that familiarize toddlers with moving around on the ice to classes for adults, said Figure Skating Coordinator Kathy Janik. Ice time is at a premium at the busy Center, which opens for classes at 6 a.m. and stays open until midnight to accommodate practice times.

All skaters enrolled in classes are eligible to compete in the Center’s Broadway theme ice show in May, a showcase of skills that includes solo and specialty performances. The show requires complex planning, rigorous rehearsals, the help of volunteers, and costumes for the participants. “It’s like a dance recital,” Janik said. “Sparkly costumes and bright lights.” Reserved seating tickets are sold for the show.

For people interested in recreational ice time, the Center offers public skating times, including adult skate on Mon., Tues., Thurs. and Fri., 12:15 to 1:30 p.m., $3 or $2 for seniors.  For people who love to watch figure skating, the Center has discount-rate tickets to Disney on Ice “Dare to Dream” on Fri., Jan. 26 at the Allstate Arena; contact Janik, 773-840-4622, for information.

Janik has been skating since she was 3, and started coaching when she was 18. She was the Figure Skating Manager at McFetridge Park.


The Morgan Park Yoga and Fitness Studio currently offers classes in yoga, Pilates, barre, Tabata, Zumba, cardio sculpt and core. According to Assistant Fitness Director Brenna Joyce, classes are regularly updated based on what people want. Participation is offered through unlimited 1 and 2 month memberships as well as drop-in visits. Seniors get a 50% discount.

Classes are offered for a wide range of ages and skill levels. Mommy and Me yoga is open to children as young as 18 months and Fit Beginnings classes are designed for seniors and people with mobility problems or who are new to fitness regimens. Kids Yoga is offered in two age groups, 4 to 8 and 9 to 13. The Studio also offers workshops.

Joyce is certified in group fitness, personal training and yoga, and has been teaching fitness classes for ten years.


The Gymnastics Center accommodates a wide range of recreational classes for kids who just want to learn gymnastics, and progression-based skill-building classes for kids who want to compete in the Center’s busy USA Gymnastics (USAG) competition schedule. The program is guided by Gymnastics Coordinator Tammy Findlay who has a staff of 20 coaches. There is also a foam pit and slots for open gym.

Baby Gym offers free play for children age 9 to 18 months, and classes range up through age and skill levels. Girls’ gymnastics training includes balance beam, uneven bars, floor exercise and vault. Boys’ gymnastics includes tumbling, high bar, parallel bars, pommel horse, vault and rings.

Findlay is serious about providing a top quality gymnastics program at Morgan Park Sports Center. She came up through the YMCA system, competing followed by coaching. She has been a Chicago Park District coach for many years, and developed the Center’s gymnastics program.

The Morgan Park Sports Center offers skate rental, a concession stand, party rooms, and the ice rink is available to rent. To find out more, stop by or call 773-840-4622.



Fitness 2018: Body, Mind and Spirit

By Kristin Boza

The start of a new year is a new chance to get or stay healthy, but we’re often doomed by the cold, gloomy weather that encourages hibernation. Luckily, BAPA business members offer numerous opportunities to keep you motivated to follow through on your New Year’s resolutions all year long.


Tai Chi, Kung Fu and self-defense classes are available at the Academy of Chinese Martial Arts, 9109 S. Western. Engage in Chinese martial arts to improve your health, fitness and wellness all in one place. Academy of Chinese Martial Arts is the only academy in the U.S. authorized to teach the rare liu-he-ba-fa internal style. 773-723-2795.

Do you hate group classes? Try small group or one-on-one personal training with Marianne Zarzecki at Beverly Fitness. Training focuses on total wellbeing of the body and mind. Zarzecki is certified in personal training, yoga and counseling. 773-573-2619.

Are you an adult who wants to learn the art of dance? Check out the adult ballroom dance class at Dance Gallery, 10628 S. Western. Group and private lessons available in rumba, jitterbug, swing, mambo, waltz, and many more. Dance Gallery also offers dance for children as young as two. 773-445-8910.

Changing your eating habits is tough, and Registered and Licensed Dietician Kelly Devine Rickert at Devine Nutrition can help. From one-on-one nutrition to group nutrition classes to meal planning to sports nutrition, they have you covered.

Sculpt and Shred Fitness, 1791 W. 95th St. helps patrons rebuild, restore, and revitalize their mind, body and spirit through proper nutrition and exercise. Workouts are custom-designed to shred calories and sculpt your body in accordance with your fitness goals. 773-629-6152. Use your BAPA Card for a discount.

This is the reason to pray for snow: See and Ski Beverly in the Dan Ryan Woods, sponsored by Beverly Improvement Association every Sun. at 1 p.m. when there’s enough snow to cross-country ski. Meet at Beverly Bike and Ski, 9121 S. Western to rent skis, boots, poles or snowshoes ($15/day or $25/weekend) and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Looking for organic food or fresh juice? Check out the selection of all types of healthy food options at Southtown Health Foods, 2100 W. 95th St. Use your BAPA Card for even more savings on vegan, vegetarian, and Paleo food options. 773-233-1856.

Some runners cool down with a cold beer. If that sounds appealing, check in to the Thirsty Thursday Running Club with Running Excels, 10328 S. Western and Open Outcry Brewing Company, 10924 S. Western. If you’re looking to upgrade your gear in 2018, head to Running Excels and use your BAPA Card for discounts. 773-629-8587.

Treadfit, 10458 S. Western, is an intense, innovative fitness program with customized workouts from certified trainers. Each class aims to improve your overall fitness level using interval training on the treadmill and full-body strength training. 773-584-8435. Use your BAPA Card.


Attachment-focused therapy is offered at Begin Within Therapy, 3301 W. 111th St. Therapists approach counseling with the knowledge that within every person lies a story. Through a safe, comfortable space, they also offer trauma treatment. 773-796-3712.

Experience “heart-centered” therapy at Beverly Therapists, 10725 S. Western, 2nd Floor. Therapists create a comforting, warm space offering a mind-body-emotional-spiritual holistic approach to counseling, including monthly wellness events. Beverly Therapists is supportive of the LGBTQ community, and offers a monthly LGBTQ group for teens. 773-719-1751.

Little Company of Mary Health Education Center, 2800 W. 95th St., offers health screenings for coronary risk, asthma, and more, as well as women’s wellness screenings for hypnosis, nutritional counseling, and other risk assessments. Additionally, a variety of wellness education programs and special events are available. 708-423-5774.

MetroSouth Medical Center, 12935 S. Gregory St., Blue Island, offers numerous classes on diabetes education, breastfeeding, childbirth, and more. 708-824-4462.

Are you over 55 years old and looking to learn something new? Check out the Renaissance Academy at Saint Xavier University, 3700 W. 103rd St. The Academy fosters intellectual growth by offering courses in literature, history, genealogy, philosophy, and other fields of interest. Members can facilitate courses. 773-298-3149.


Meditation is one essential part of overall wellbeing. Beverly Yoga Center, 1917 W. 103rd St., 2nd floor, offers tailored classes to help educate, support, and relieve many symptoms associated with their clients’ issues. Classes address anxiety, stress, insomnia, menopause, lower back issues, healthy aging, hormonal balance, and more for those looking for ways to complement Western medicine. Use your BAPA Card.

Get on the track to better wellness this year at Light House Beverly, 11240 S. Western. This yoga, therapeutic massage and wellness center offers hatha, restorative, yin and therapeutic yoga as well as myofascial release, self-care and Goddess Yoga. Release your stress and recharge.

Find a one-stop shop for beauty needs head at Relaxation Station Salon and Spa, 10655 S. Hale Ave. They offer pedicures/manicures, massage, facials, hair styling and hair coloring. The new salon recently added even more opportunities to recharge and restyle. Use your BAPA Card.

No Need to Grieve Alone

By Lisa Catania, LCSW and Aida Pigott, LCSW

Grief is an uncomfortable visitor that visits us all.  It does not matter whether we anticipate a death or are surprised in a most awful way: loss hurts.  The world-as-we-know-it is pulled out from under our feet, and we are suspended in unreality and forced to find a way forward. It is a bleak and difficult journey.

Fortunately, we are not alone.  At the time that we need it most, it is possible to find a community of people who understand and who are walking the same road of profound change. It has been said that a grief shared is a grief halved.  We all realize, deep down, that our loved one cannot return.  It helps to have others who “get” the struggles and can normalize and validate the normalcy of feelings that do not feel normal.  It is helpful to be part of a community where one person supports another.  At one point, you are the newest member of an odd “club” that no one wants to belong to, and later, you become the person who reassures another that there is hope and laughter further on down the road.

If you are grieving and would like support Beverly Therapist, 10725 S. Western, hosts two monthly support groups for individuals grieving the loss of a spouse/partner, and for those grieving the loss of a child,  whether it be through miscarriage or into adulthood.  We each have our own stories, but grief creates a commonality.  A broken heart is an open heart.  For more information visit or call Lisa Catania, LCSW 773-719-1751 or Aida Pigott, LCSW at 773-332-6664.

Lisa Catania, LCSW and Aida Pigott, LCSW are experienced counselors specializing in grief, loss and change.  They are part of Beverly Therapists, a local group of therapists in private practice committed to serving the community. General information: 773-310-3488

By Eileen McNichols MSN., RN., Director community Health and Pastoral Care Services

Many people deal with anxiety at times. Individuals who have had a dangerous or traumatic experience may suffer from a particularly difficult type of anxiety disorder known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  Very often people associate PTSD with soldiers. Following World War I, soldiers who struggled with intense anxiety and altered psychological or emotional functioning after returning from the battle field were said to have a condition known as “Shell Shock.” While it is true that up to 30% of soldiers returning from combat are diagnosed with PTSD, any person who experiences a traumatic or life-threatening incident such as sexual assault, child abuse, accidents, bombings, or natural disasters can develop this disabling disorder.

Someone suffering with PTSD repeatedly re-experiences the traumatic event through flashbacks, nightmares and frightening disabling thoughts. He or she may develop a variety of behaviors to avoid the distress and anxiety the experience triggers, such as staying away from people, places and/or objects that remind them of the experience or becoming emotionally numb and unable to relate to loved ones. Sometimes individuals with PTSD have extreme guilt, suffer with depression or worry to the point where they are unable to engage in everyday life. Others may develop amnesia or an inability to remember the dangerous event.

It is also common for individuals with PTSD to be easily startled, frightened or panicky, to always be on edge and or have difficulty sleeping.  Following a dangerous or life threatening experience, these feelings are normal to some extent. However, if they last more than a few weeks, interfere with daily function or begin to manifest after a period of weeks or months, they may indicate PTSD.

Children are susceptible to the effects of trauma but respond differently than adults. Indications of PTSD include regression of development such as bedwetting, losing the ability to speak, becoming unusually clingy with significant adults, acting out or drawing the traumatic event when playing.  Older children and teens may develop disruptive, disrespectful or destructive behaviors. Older children and teens may feel guilty for not preventing injury or deaths. They may also have thoughts of revenge.

The good news is that there are treatments available for this devastating disorder. Therapy is especially important. Anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants can also be effective. Studies have shown that the sooner the individual receives help, the more likely they are to develop the resilience and coping skills that enable them to heal beyond the traumatic event.

January Programs

Little Company of Mary Hospital, 2800 W. 95th St. Info/registration: 708-423-5774

Courage to Quit, a three week quit smoking program, begins Wed., Jan. 3, 6:30 to 8 p.m. $20.

Health Academy: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder with Nadjeh Awadalllah, PhD, clinical therapist with the LCM Medical Group, Mon., Jan 8, 11 a.m. to noon. Free.

January 15th 10:00 a.m. -2:00 p.m. Babysitting Safe and Secure, a program designed to teach sage babysitting techniques to 11- to 14-year-olds, Mon., Jan 15, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  All materials included. Bring a bag lunch; snacks provided. $60. Registration required.

Lung Cancer Screening for people who meet certain criteria, includes a low dose CT scan of the lungs, Sat., Jan. 20, 8 a.m. to noon, Outpatient Care Center, 6700 W. 95th St. $125. Appointment required.



Nurturing Your Body and Spirit

Good health requires a combination of preventative and restorative care. Located at 11240 S. Western, ExcellCare Physical Therapy and Erin Kelly Massage Therapy work in tandem to offer holistic approaches to reducing pain and restoring physical health.

ExcellCare Physical Therapy was established in 1999 with a mission change the way physical therapy is provided in the USA. The facility uses a hands-on approach that focuses pain reduction. “[It is] an absolutely necessary first step in creating a positive patient response,” explained Sanjoy Roy, Director of Physical Therapy. Treatment focuses on a series of purposeful techniques using manual therapy, decompression of the spine, and other forms of holistic ways to treat and cure patients. ExcellCare also integrates acupuncture and next-generation laser therapy to treat pain.

“At ExcellCare, we strongly value the patient experience and believe that the plan of care begins from the moment a patient walks through our doors,” Roy said. Driven by the mission to provide a simple and individualized system of physical therapy care that produces positive results, the staff treats many conditions, including back pain, neck pain, stenosis, arthritis, hip pain and knee pain.

In May, Erin Kelly moved her practice to ExcellCare’s facility. “Erin Kelly’s Massage Therapy practice has been a refreshing addition to the ExcellCare Physical Therapy family.” Roy said. “Our patients have been referred to Erin often for her massage therapy expertise in addition to the physical therapy treatment ExcellCare provides. ExcellCare believes in a strong and meaningful relationship with Erin Kelly to provide optimum patient care.”

Now in her tenth year of practice, Kelly trained at the Chicago School of Massage Therapy, and is a certified and licensed massage therapist specializing in myofascial trigger point therapy to effectively reduce and relieve pain. Caused by injury, repetitive motion and other common factors, myofascial pain is chronic muscle pain that can present along with fatigue, stress, weakness, loss of motion and depression. “It’s not just a sore muscle,” Kelly said.

Kelly combines her education and experience with her natural and intuitive presence and ability to ‘listen’ through therapeutic touch to provide natural healing, helping her clients feel their best. Each patient undergoes a thorough evaluation used to create a personalized treatment plan. Patients are also provided with suggestions for self-care, resources and tips to prevent pain and injury.

Exemplifying her belief and health and spirit are connected, Kelly’s light open space is conducive to healing, and the high grade therapeutic essential oils she uses boost the efficacy of treatment and enhance relaxation. Kelly appreciates working collaboratively with physical therapists to provide an extra layer of pain relief and health benefits to clients.

Kelly, a Beverly/Morgan Park resident, has built her practice here. “I’m grateful to be in a community that’s so supportive,” she said.

ExcellCare Physical Therapy accepts most insurances, and can be reached at 773-779-1111 for appointments. Learn more about the scope of their services at www. Kelly does not do medical billing but accepts referrals. Find more information or make appointments at 773-569-1015 or

Sculpt and Shred Offers Nutrition and Fitness Programs

By Kristin Boza

Sculpt and Shred, 1741 W. 95th St., a fitness studio dedicated to ensuring healthier lives and helping people battle specific diseases and conditions, opened in May with a hard-hitting program to improve the overall health of participants.

“We train from the inside out,” said owner Andrew Sanders. “We cater to people who are dealing with diabetes and high blood pressure. We also cater to the elderly and anyone dealing with severe joint problems, sciatica or kidney disease. The foundation of Sculpt and Shred is to deal with those diseases.”

Sanders is a dietician, nutritionist and fitness expert. He works with his clients to create specialized meal plans that focus on their particular ailment. The fitness program is designed to build muscle and quickly lose inches. “You’ll never do the same exercise twice at Sculpt and Shred. When you work those muscle fibers differently, you’ll get different results,” he said. “We are creative and completely hands off the book — we put together workout plans from our skill sets and the gift we possess.”

Through the Sculpt and Shred weight loss programs, Sanders said that his clients can lose 15 or more pounds per month, depending on their individual goals. “We have been so successful at it. We guarantee those results and, if you don’t achieve it the first time, we will train you for free until you do achieve that success,” he said.

In October, Sculpt and Shred is offering an unlimited class package for $79/month. For information, visit their website at

Sanders’ background in fitness ranges from body building to power lifting to martial arts. He is certified with the National Academy of Sports Medicine and a certified EMT.

Catching ZZZZZs: LCMH Sleep Apnea Hurts Hearts Campaign

Loud snoring, morning headaches, restless sleep, forgetfulness and mood changes are just a few signs of sleep apnea. Sleep apnea involves the repeated collapse of the upper airway during sleep. It puts an enormous strain on the heart by repeatedly causing oxygen levels to drop and blood pressure to surge as you sleep.

If left untreated, severe obstructive sleep apnea more than doubles your risk of dying from heart disease, warns the National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project. Project partners – including the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Sleep Research Society – launched the “Sleep Apnea Hurts Hearts” campaign to raise public awareness and urge individuals with symptoms of sleep apnea to talk to a doctor about their risk.

Little Company of Mary Hospital (LCMH) is a premier provider of sleep medicine consultations and sleep studies. Under the direction of Medical Director Richard Kern, M.D., Pulmonologist at LCMH and board-certified in Sleep Medicine and a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the Sleep Center at LCMH has more than 25 years of experience in evaluating patients with sleep disorders, conducting sleep studies and determining effective treatment.

“Our goal is to help people who suffer from sleep apnea, insomnia, and other sleep disorders

obtain healthy refreshing sleep,” said Dr. Kern. “Sleep disorders are extremely common in our society and, unfortunately, most people with symptoms are undiagnosed and untreated.”

Severe obstructive sleep apnea hurts HEARTS by increasing the risk of:

H – Heart failure

E – Elevated blood pressure

A – Atrial fibrillation

R – Resistant hypertension

T – Type 2 diabetes

S – Stroke

Some of the most common risk factors for sleep apnea are obesity, narrow airway, large neck, tongue or tonsils, and recessed jaw. Fortunately, treatments for obstructive sleep apnea are available. Following diagnosis by a board-certified sleep medicine physician, the most commonly prescribed treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure therapy – or CPAP. This treatment uses mild levels of air pressure, provided through a mask, to keep the throat open while you sleep.

“The Sleep Disorders Center at LCMH is your gateway to a team of sleep professionals and sleep expertise for adults and children ages five and older,” said Dr. Kern. The Center has been accredited by the AASM since 2009. Accreditation assures the highest level of care by specially trained physicians and sleep technicians who follow established protocols for evaluation and treatment.

Sleep studies are traditionally performed overnight in the Sleep Disorders Center located in the hospital. Testing is performed in the comfort of a bedroom environment, using the latest state of-the-art technology to monitor breathing patterns, heart rate, brain waves, and oxygen levels. A sleep technician is always available to answer your questions and assist you during the night. After the study is completed, you may shower and return home or go to work. For some patients, based on insurance requirements and your sleep specialist’s recommendations, a home sleep study may be performed. If indicated, a sleep technician will provide personal instruction on how to set up and use the sleep monitor which is returned to the Center the following day.

Get the help you need at Little Company of Mary’s Sleep Disorders Center. To take the online sleep study quiz, visit To make an appointment for a consultation, please contact the Sleep Disorders Center at 708.423.REST (7378).

Mom Needs to Downsize. Now What?

By Colleen Hassell, Community Outreach Coordinator, HealthAdvocates HomeCare

Mom has been living in the house for more than two decades, and now she needs to move and/or downsize. What do you do? The best way to approach the conversation about moving is carefully. There might be health reasons or a death of a spouse that makes a move more urgent. Many elderly people don’t want to burden their children or other family members. Helping your loved one move can be one of the hardest decisions you make as an adult child.

The first step is to decide where your loved one will move to. There are many options available today. You, along with family members, should evaluate what kind of care is needed.

Is your loved one able to move around with little to no help? If so, Independent Living is an option. These facilities offer little to no assistance. Residents can come and go as they wish and many of these facilities allow residents to have a caregiver visit on a short term basis when more assistance is needed.

Has your loved one stopped driving and does he or she need assistance with day to day activities? If so, Assisted Living facilities have staff that will be there to help your loved one around the clock.

Once a decision has been made on where your loved one is going to move to, the dreaded packing begins! According to a study conducted by the Gerontology Center at the University of Kansas, “about 30% of people over age 70 had done nothing to give away belongings over the past 12 months.” Many older people have an extraordinarily difficult time giving up items that are closely linked to their identities. Often, family members see their loved ones’ homes filled with “stuff,” while the loved one associates their belongings with memories and happier times.

Adult children can help their parents downsize by showing them how their possessions can help other people. Asking your loved ones to sit down and go through their home with you to decide what they want to keep and what can be donated and/or thrown away can be very helpful.

The best time to talk to an elderly loved one about moving is now. Talking about the future and what their wishes are saves family members from having to decide what to do during a stressful, chaotic time. Visit houses and facilities with your family member. Ask your loved one what type of housing they prefer.

Founded in 2014, HealthAdvocates HomeCare is a non-medical home care company that provides CNAs and caregivers to families needing care for their loved ones. Info: or 708-459-6077.


LCMH Experts Help Cancer Patient Defy the Odds

Donnell Hall, a 52-year-old area resident, had no family history of disease when he received a very rare cancer diagnosis in early 2016.  The otherwise healthy former college basketball player and print shop owner is the “glue” of his family. Their world was shaken when diagnosis was delivered.

In late 2015, Hall had been experiencing difficulty swallowing and catching his breath. He made an appointment with his primary care provider who performed a series of initial tests, then referred Hall to an academic medical center in Chicago where his greatest fear was confirmed. Malignant Metastatic Paraganglioma: Three words that neither Donnell nor his healthcare team had heard before.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), malignant paraganglioma is extremely rare — in 2002, the estimated incidence in the United States was 93 cases per 400 million people. Diagnosis is a challenge, so in up to about 10 percent of cases — including Hall’s — metastases are already present at diagnosis. If left untreated, the prognosis is poor.

After a two-week hospital stay, providers at the medical center informed Hall that he may not have much time left, and began to discuss hospice and palliative care options.

“This was the most difficult conversation I ever had in my life,” said Hall. “I didn’t know what to do, but I knew I was not ready. As far as I was concerned, my fight had just begun and I was determined to fight for my life.”

It was at this time that Hall’s primary care provider referred him to M. Bassel Atassi, M.D., hematologist/oncologist and internal medicine physician at Little Company of Mary Hoapital (LCMH), who was willing and ready to lead Hall in his fight.

“Dr. Atassi wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” said Hall. “He is my guardian angel and the reason I am here today.”

Because this rare form of cancer was new to Dr. Atassi, Hall’s treatments were determined one appointment at a time. It was found that the cancer originated in Donnell’s chest. Over the course of a year, Donnell underwent local radiation to the main cancer mass, targeted radiation liver-directed Radioembolization treatments, and chemotherapy treatments. In April, CT and PET scans showed that the metastasis is shrinking with no new growths.

In addition to Dr. Atassi, members of Hall’s healthcare team at LCMH include Julia Choo, M.D., radiation oncologist; Don Martinez, M.D., interventional radiologist; and Hamid Nazeer, D.O., interventional radiologist.

“I truly accredit our entire team for Donnell’s success story,” said Dr. Atassi. “None of us ever had encountered a patient with this type of cancer, but we all came together as collaborating physicians to create a customized treatment plan and ultimately save Donnell’s life.”

Today, Hall is grateful just to be alive. During treatment, he made the decision to close his print shop which has helped him to slow down and enjoy life. In spring, Hall and his family celebrated his overcoming cancer by going on a cruise.

“Before this diagnosis, I was one busy man… constantly on-the-go and rushing through life. Now, I just live life as I can. I take time to hear the birds,” said Hall. “The personalized care that I have received at the Cancer Center at LCMH has been indescribable and every person I have encountered has made me feel special and important. Little Company of Mary is like family to me. I am most grateful to my entire healthcare team, but especially to Dr. Atassi. He saved my life.”

To learn more about cancer care at Little Company of Mary Hospital, visit To make an appointment at the Cancer Center, call 708-229-6020.



Business Spotlight: Health Advocates, Home Caregiving Services

By Kristin Boza

As an elderly family member ages, mental and physical changes can come on rapidly. Many senior citizens and their families want to do everything possible to avoid an assisted living or nursing home scenario –not only are those facilities expensive, but it takes some sense of self away from the senior citizen. With the aid of Health Advocates, families can hire experienced caregivers to provide housekeeping, meal preparation, rides to a doctor’s appointment, bathing and medication reminders so that the elderly person can still live and thrive in their own home. Health Advocates is active in caring for Beverly/Morgan Park residents, and many of the caregivers employed by them reside in the neighborhood as well.

“We help people keep their elderly family member at home, and our services take the stress off of the family,” said Colleen Hassell, community outreach coordinator for Health Advocates. “My boss [Health Advocates President/CEO Raj Ismail] says we’re out there to help people to save lives and save relationships.”

Hassell said it’s a sensitive issue for families to see their older family member age and become unable to do the things they once could. The elderly took care of the younger family members in years past, but it’s not always easy for the younger generation, often caring for their own young families and working full-time, to also care for an aging parent. The caregivers at Health Advocates are able to help the younger generation take the turn of caring for the older.

“Our caregivers are there to help do whatever they can to make the family and the patient comfortable to that no one feels that they must transfer their parents to a retirement home or nursing home,” Hassell said. “Some of our caregivers have even gone on vacations with our clients to provide additional assistance to the family when they’re traveling.”

Besides in-home care, Health Advocates goes into retirement facilities to provide additional assistance to the residents. “We also offer a Gentle Flow Fitness Program, which is a seated yoga program,” Hassell said. “We have a yoga instructor who is also a caregiver; she has everyone sit in their seats and she shows them different ways to stretch and get the blood circulating in their bodies. We offer this service free of charge to the facilities as our way of giving back.”

One thing Health Advocates’ caregivers cannot do is give medication. However, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) caregiver can remind their clients that it’s time to take their prescribed medications. When a family is in need of a caregiver, Health Advocates will send a nurse to the home to assess the care that’s needed. The nurse will then work with a coordinator to determine which caregiver would be best-suited for that client’s needs.

“Many of our clients are on a lot of medication; it can get confusing to remember when to take which medicine. It’s nice to know that you can leave your house and have someone there to tell your loved one when to take it,” Hassell said.

Giving back to the community, Health Advocates has donated reusable water bottles for the Ridge Run goody bags for the last two years. Health Advocates also recruits its clients to help give back. “We have a Crafting Caring Hands group that is comprised of a group of seniors who use donated yarn to create hats, shawls and blankets that we donate to children’s hospitals and cancer treatment facilities. Last year, we donated over 2,000 handmade items,” Hassell said.

“You want to be there for your loved one, but you can’t all the time. It’s nice to know that there’s someone who cares as much as you do to take care of your parents’ needs,” Hassell said.

To find out more about Health Advocates, visit