Kurtz & Vana Families Give Transformation Gift for ER Expansion
Local business leaders Marilyn Kurtz and Tom and Michele Vana recently invested in Silver Cross with a substantial undisclosed donation for the enhancement and expansion of emergency services at the Hospital’s facilities in New Lenox and Homer Glen.
“It is because of their past 40 years of business and friendship that the Kurtz and Vana families have decided to make a legacy gift to Silver Cross Hospital, said Paul Pawlak, President and CEO of Silver Cross Hospital. “They understand the importance of having state-of-the-art emergency services available at a moment’s notice and close to home. We are extremely grateful for their generous gift that will provide quality emergency care for local families for many years to come.”
Life-Saving Emergency Care
With more than 77,000 visits a year, Silver Cross operates two emergency departments equipped to handle all types of medical emergencies, injuries and illnesses. Both the Silver Cross Hospital Emergency Department and the Silver Cross Emergency Care Center in Homer Glen are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are staffed by the same group of board certified emergency medicine physicians trained to treat patients of all ages. However, since opening the new hospital in 2012, Silver Cross has seen a 55% increase in the number of patients seeking emergency medical care warranting the need for more treatment rooms, equipment and staff.
To provide convenient access for non-life threatening conditions, last year, Silver Cross opened an Urgent Care center at 1051 Essington Rd., Joliet. And in January 2016, the hospital partnered with Teladoc to provide patients an affordable alternative to the ED when their physician is unavailable. Patients can go to silvercross.org to talk via phone or video with a doctor anytime from anywhere for just $49.
“A gift for the emergency department is an easy decision to make,” said Marilyn Kurtz. “It is truly is the foundation of the Kurtz-Silver Cross relationship.”
A Lifetime of Community Support and Service
In 1977, Karl and Marilyn Kurtz along with their two sons, Tom Vana and Joey Kurtz, moved into a farmhouse on the corner of Cedar and Francis Roads in New Lenox. On November 3 of that year, Kurtz Memorial Chapel started providing funeral services to the residents of New Lenox. Just three weeks later, Karl bought a 1972 maroon Cadillac ambulance and started Kurtz Ambulance Service. Although he was advised from his colleagues that the ambulance service would never make it in the New Lenox area, he ran over 300 calls that first year.
Karl and Marilyn’s work ethic cannot be denied. Karl would start his day at sunrise by washing
vehicles –always Marilyn’s car first, and Marilyn would start her several hours of paperwork.
Their work day was endless for years as they answered the ambulance phones and dispatched vehicles from their home 24 hours a day. Today, Marilyn still is secretary and treasurer for the companies and continues to start her day’s work at 4 am.
Strong Ties with Silver Cross Family
Their son, Tom Vana, attended paramedic class that was offered at Silver Cross Hospital. At the age of 20 he was the youngest to graduate from the program and did so at the top of his class receiving the golden stethoscope award. In 1987 Tom met his future wife, Michele Matile, at Silver Cross Hospital where she was employed as an emergency nurse for nearly 20 years. Tom and Michele married in 1990 and gave birth to triplets, Matthew, Amy, and Jay in 1995.
From the initiation of both businesses, the funeral home and ambulance service, a strong bond has grown with Silver Cross Hospital. This bond remains strong today. Over the last 40 years
Kurtz Ambulance has offered unwavering support for the medical facility. Kurtz has been and continues to be a premier sponsor for the Childerguild Ball and the Silver Cross Foundation Charity Golf Outing. Kurtz also offers scholarships to the paramedic program offered through the hospital.
After the unexpected death of their son Joey, Karl and Marilyn made a donation that allowed for the dedication of a trauma room in his memory during the renovation of the Joliet location emergency department. Kurtz has also supported all capital campaigns at Silver Cross with significant donations. As a member of Childerguild, Michele co-chaired two of their black-tie galas and the Illumination Gala for the grand-opening of the new hospital in 2012. She is a current member of the Hospital’s Foundation Board.
In 1995 Karl Kurtz was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and just a few short years later became disabled from its progression. In 2016 Karl passed away from complications of the disease. Tom now serves as President and CEO of all Kurtz entities. Along with serving Silver Cross Hospital, Kurtz has numerous companies that offer services which include private ambulance service to the southern suburbs, hospital branded ambulance service, contractual paramedic/firefighter staffing to 27 area municipalities, industrial paramedic/firefighting staffing to 13 sites nationwide, critical care ambulance service, and 911 dispatching for eight communities. The Kurtz entities now employ over 800 individuals.
When Silver Cross Hospital announced the decision to open a replacement hospital, Kurtz was honored to be offered the opportunity to be the exclusive ambulance provider for the big move. Tom made the decision that once again Kurtz would respond as friends and family do, and offered the ambulance service as a courtesy to the medical facility. Kurtz worked hand in hand with the hospital staff and all 129 patients were moved seamlessly and in less than half the allocated time for such an undertaking.
The Kurtz-Silver Cross relationship although built on business is one of friendship and family. It is because of these relationships and friendships that Tom and Michele found comfort when they were surrounded by the Silver Cross Emergency Department family the night their son, Jay, passed away due to injuries from a motor vehicle accident.
“We have literally grown up together. This gift serves as a gesture of our gratitude for the continued support and friendship we have with the Silver Cross Hospital family,” said Tom Vana.