What sets AdventHealth apart as a health system is our commitment to extend the healing ministry of Christ. It starts with providing exceptional whole-person care that treats the body, mind and spirit of each of our patients. The three people profiled here understand that commitment and live it every day of their lives in their work at AdventHealth. They are among the many faces of mission at AdventHealth. From left to right: Dmitry Kucheryavenko, Samantha Sagrado, and Kenneth Nelson, MD.
What sets AdventHealth apart as a health system is our commitment to extend the healing ministry of Christ. It starts with providing exceptional whole-person care that treats the body, mind and spirit of each of our patients. But it also includes ensuring that our commitment to care extends to our staff and the communities we serve.
The three people profiled here understand that commitment and live it every day of their lives in their work at AdventHealth. They are among the many faces of mission at AdventHealth.
Like most people, Chaplain Dmitry Kucheryavenko watched in horror as Russia invaded Ukraine. Immediately, he and the other chaplains at AdventHealth took action, creating an effort by all the Adventist hospitals in the region to collect food, clothes and personal items to send to those affected by the war.
“The project was a natural response to suffering there,” Kucheryavenko said. “A lot of our team members are deeply concerned about what is happening. And a lot of them have family and friends in Eastern Europe.” He and his wife are among those who have family in Ukraine.
But the effort to help was not restricted only to those with connections to the war zone. “For many team members, it comes very naturally and is based on their commitment to the mission of extending the healing ministry of Christ,” said Kucheryavenko, who serves as a chaplain at AdventHealth Hinsdale and AdventHealth La Grange.
The collection effort began about a week after the invasion. Pastoral care team members distributed collection boxes to leaders at each of the hospitals in the region, and the leaders put those boxes in physician and staff lounges. The pastoral care team also provided information about how people could contribute money or other items that were not on the collection list. At the same time, nurses were leading an effort to gather medical supplies to send to Ukraine.
The response was overwhelming, Kucheryavenko shared. “It was a tremendous effort that reflected the way people at AdventHealth value human life as well as the desire of our community to bring healing.”
The effort was so successful, in fact, that after a few weeks they had to remove the boxes. They had collected so much that those donations, combined with donations from people all over the world responding to the crisis, were outpacing the ability of relief agencies to deliver the items.
Kucheryavenko said the chaplains are considering what they might do next for the people of Ukraine. But, he added, as they look for the next opportunity to send supplies, there is still a way to help. “The most important thing we can do right now is to give our thoughts and prayers,” he said. “We pray for peace for Ukraine. We pray for a solution to this conflict.”
After 34 years as a doctor, most of those associated with AdventHealth hospitals, Kenneth Nelson, MD, was thinking about taking a step back. Like many doctors, he was feeling the stress of two years of pandemic and an increasing amount of bureaucracy in his profession. But the unwinding of AMITA Health seemed to bring a fresh opportunity to impact the way his physician colleagues carried forth their work.
Asked to head the newly named AdventHealth Medical Group in Illinois, he reflected, “I thought the position might give me a chance to make some things work better for doctors and, therefore, work better for our patients.”
With a leadership philosophy that is more bottom-up than top-down, Dr. Nelson recalls, “I wanted to help people find their own answers to the issues they face,” an approach he believes to be aligned with AdventHealth’s values. “This organization has its eyes wide open,” he said. “They are willing to listen to people and be inclusive.”
After accepting the new position, he changed the traditional title of chief medical officer to chief medical facilitator to better reflect how he sees his role. Supporting physicians as they develop solutions that empower patients to be active participants in their care is another way of extending the healing ministry of Christ, in addition to efforts like Mission at Home and other kinds of outreach to the community and those in need.
“AdventHealth isn’t fixing all of the world’s problems,” he said, “but they can be a piece of the solution. And they understand that.”
Samantha Sagrado knows she has the right job as manager of volunteer services at AdventHealth Bolingbrook and AdventHealth GlenOaks.” I like to help people,” she said. “I like to see that people are taken care of.”
Sagrado organizes and trains volunteers at the hospitals. The volunteers do a variety of tasks, and they come for a variety of reasons. Some need to get volunteer hours. Some want to get experience in a healthcare setting. Some come because a loved one was cared for at one of the hospitals, and they want to give back. But regardless of their specific motivation, “These people want to help the helpers.” Currently there are 40 volunteers at AdventHealth Bolingbrook and 35 at AdventHealth GlenOaks.
In addition to her work with volunteers, Sagrado is always looking for other ways to be of service. In early 2020, during the start of the pandemic, she started a micro pantry at AdventHealth GlenOaks. Several AdventHealth hospitals, including AdventHealth Bolingbrook, already had micro pantries. But Sagrado realized one was needed at AdventHealth GlenOaks as well.
Working on the same premise as the Little Free Library, where people can take a book to read or leave a book they no longer need, the micro pantry has nonperishable food items which people can take what they need or add something to the shelves.
Each week a different department at the hospital “adopts” the micro pantry and restocks it. Hospital staff and community members also often add items to the pantry. Anyone, including community members and staff, can take what they need from the pantry, which is located outside the front of the hospital. More than 700 people have been served by the pantry since it opened.
Sagrado also spearheaded the opening of a wellness pantry at AdventHealth Bolingbrook in November 2021 to serve the homeless population in the area. “I saw homeless people sometimes coming into the hospital to get warm, and I knew there was a need,” she said.
The wellness pantry, located in a discreet location near the hospital chapel, stocks toiletries, bottled water, blankets, outerwear and other items needed by people experiencing homelessness. It also provides information about resources like temporary shelter. “All of the items are donated by the staff of the hospital,” she said. “It is amazing.”
Once a year, each hospital partners with the Northern Illinois Food Bank for a Mobile Food Pantry to bring food to the needy. Sagrado said her work is a way of furthering the mission of AdventHealth. “This is what I think Jesus would be doing. He would be helping in any way He could. He would be feeding the hungry, He would be helping the less fortunate, and I want to do that,” she said. “It’s how I practice my own Christianity.”
She believes her colleagues share that commitment. “Within this healthcare system, people are living the mission every day. You know how people say, “If you do something you love, you won’t feel like you are working a day in your life”? Well, this is what that feels like,” she said. “It feels great!”
Julie Busch, associate vice president, Marketing & Communication, AdventHealth Great Lakes Region