Published on July 09, 2021

Silver Cross Foundation Receives Transformational Gift
to Build NICU

Amy, Matthew and Jay Vana Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Silver Cross Hospital
to open in 2022
Vana Family/Ruth Colby
From left, Mitchell Cunningham (fiancé of Amy Vana), Amy Vana, Tom Vana, Michele Vana, Matthew Vana, Morgan McCarey (Matthew’s significant other) and Silver Cross President/CEO Ruth Colby.

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 the first and only 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 exceptional, specialized care is always available for families who live in this region.”

“This project is especially close to our hearts,” said Michele Vana. “Tom and I want to make sure that other parents don’t have to experience what we went through; the stress and anxiety of making the long trip back and forth to Chicago for months to be with their tiny, sick newborns every minute of every day for months. Our investment, along with that of many others, ensures that our children and grandchildren and families throughout Will County and beyond will have access to the very 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 Vana’s 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 registered 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 and tried for several years to start a family. 

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. The new parents immediately made a pact that one of them would be at the hospital at all times.   

“It was very difficult as our babies didn’t all come home at the same time. Amy came home after 6 weeks, then Jay, and Matthew was the last after spending 9 weeks in the NICU,” said Michele.  “Tom would come relieve me after working a 24-hour shift so I could go home to take care of Amy and Jay who both needed extra care. 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 tiny, helpless babies. They were and are our world.” 

Advanced Neonatal Care

Silver Cross Hospital recently received approval from the State of Illinois to upgrade from a Level IIE specialty care nursery to a Level III neonatal intensive care unit so high-risk expectant mothers and critically ill babies will no longer have to travel far for safe, advanced 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 breastfeed, practice skin-to-skin bonding, and be intimately involved in their baby’s care. Other features include a comfortable family lounge and dedicated 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 $12.8 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. 

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.