Northwestern Medicine

Support for Employee Serving in Iraq Wins Recognition

Lake Forest Hospital March 19, 2007

LAKE FOREST, IL – The ongoing support Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital employees have shown for security officer Mike Kempski, a U.S. Army sergeant on active duty in Iraq who recently was returned stateside for medical evaluation, has won recognition from a Department of Defense-based organization. The Seven Seals Award from Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR) was presented March 19 to hospital officials during a ceremony at the Outpatient & Acute Care Center in Grayslake.

ESGR seeks to gain and maintain active support from all public and private employers for the men and women who must leave civilian jobs when called to active duty. In presenting the award, Illinois ESGR Committee member Don Martin of Lindenhurst praised the employee-driven efforts to send numerous “care packages” and greetings from home to Kempski.

"Part of our mission is to recognize employers who do more than the law requires," Martin said.

Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital has gone that extra mile. This award recognizes meritorious leadership in supporting our service men and women.”

In accepting the award, Hospital President/CEO Thomas J. Mcafee said, “It shows that Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital employees care not only for their patients but for each other as well.”

McAfee added that the support for Kempski went beyond his fellow employees. He noted the presence of Margaret Berg, a 100-year-old resident of the hospital’s affiliated Westmoreland Nursing Center who donated $500 to help purchase the items from home that were being sent to Iraq. Berg wanted to help after reading about the popcorn-sale fund-raisers at hospital facilities and employee donations of goods for the “care packages,” which truly meant a lot to Kempski and his fellow soldiers.

Also present for the ceremony was Kempski’s mother, Cynthia Wells of Wauconda, who gave heartfelt thanks to all who’ve made her son feel loved and appreciated while in Iraq, read a letter from him and revealed that he’s currently back in the United States receiving medical attention. According to Wells, Kempski is being evaluated for a “few concussions resulting from IED explosions on or near his Humvee” while on patrol. After being evacuated to Germany, he was sent to Walter Reed Army Hospital and most recently was being observed by a neurosurgeon at a military installation in Georgia. “Word, so far, is too many head injuries in too short a time,” said Wells, who added, “I am hoping to have my son back home soon. Until then, thanks to all who’ve made the burden of my son being gone an easier task.”

In his letter, Kempski expresses thanks from the bottom of his heart. “The snacks and goods from home brought America to us in Iraq and made home seem not so far away,” he said. “There was so much that Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital sent that was needed because the PX at our base in Iraq was small. Members of my squad and I are truly grateful for the time, effort and love that went into supporting us over there.”

Kempski also congratulated the hospital on its ESGR award. “Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital has set the example for all other employers of deployed soldiers to follow,” he wrote. “I look forward to the day I can return to the ranks of the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital staff and continue my civilian life again. I am proud to call Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital my employer.”

When he does return home for good, Kempski’s job at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital and his many coworkers will be waiting for him.

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