Strong ties to the community, a positive patient experience and a desire to give back led the Nemmers family to make a charitable contribution to Advocate Condell Medical Center.
For more than 75 years, Joe Nemmers Sr. has called Libertyville home. It is where he and his wife, Jackie, raised their children. It is where they went to church, socialized and dined. And it is where they got care for their family’s medical needs, which were always minor, fortunately, and never beyond their local hospital’s capability.
But that changed in 2009 when Joe Sr., then 81, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Thankfully Advocate Condell Medical Center had changed as well. It was no longer just a typical community hospital; it had grown into a first-class medical center. Since its merger with Advocate Health Care, Condell Medical Center has been nationally recognized for clinical excellence, has been designated as the only Level I Trauma Center in Lake County and constructed a new patient care tower.
That transformation is what piqued the interest of Joe Nemmers Jr., who recently retired from Abbott after 27 years. (Joe Sr. also worked for Abbott for more than 45 years.) Joe Jr. was looking for ways to use his vast experience in health care, philanthropy and volunteer work to get more involved in the community and in fundraising. He found the perfect fit as a member of Condell Medical Center’s Governing Council and chair of its Development Council.
“I was intrigued by the new partnership with Advocate Health Care and how it could help elevate the level of care and services offered at Condell,” says Joe Jr. “It was exciting to watch the hospital grow into a vitally important part of the community, the county and beyond.”
Act of Faith
What most inspired Joe Jr. to want to make a lasting impact on the medical center, however, was his father’s experience as a patient there. “Our whole family was so grateful for the top-quality and compassionate care dad received,” says Joe Jr. “My parents were particularly impressed with the spiritual aspect of his care.” (The chaplains visited with Joe Sr. regularly during his 10-day stay.)
Joe Sr. wrote a note to the medical center to say thank you, but Joe Jr. had another idea for how to show the family’s gratitude: Together with his parents, Joe Jr. and his wife, Kathy, made a charitable gift to support the construction of the new chapel in the patient care tower.
The Nemmers Family Chapel, which opened in April 2011, offers a larger and more accessible place for contemplation, prayer and worship for people of all faiths. To meet the needs of all patients and their families, the chapel is equipped with closed-circuit television capabilities to broadcast religious services to patient rooms and features a peaceful outdoor healing garden. The space also serve as a hub for the many clergy, volunteers and care ministers who provide daily support to patients and their families.
Fittingly, the first visitors to the chapel were the Nemmers family, who celebrated Joe and Jackie Nemmers’s 60th-wedding anniversary following the chapel dedication. “It seems like only yesterday that Jackie and I got married,” says Joe Sr. “Our three children and 14 grandchildren all returned to Libertyville to help us celebrate our vows and our commitment to Condell. It was a very special day.”
Part of the Nemmerses’ gift also helped the hospital start its Clinical Pastoral Education program—a nationally accredited program that uses a collaborative approach and unique training to prepare men and women to minister to people in the hospital—at Condell. “Their gift helped us fill an enormous need in Lake County to train clergy on how to provide spiritual care in a clinical setting,” says vice president for mission and spiritual care Fred Rajan, who is in charge of the program. “We are so grateful to the Nemmers family for their generosity and for recognizing the important role faith plays in healing.” (First published: 2010)