Big hearts, tiny patients
Renaissance Medical Group cares for the smallest and sickest patients—as both neonatologists and philanthropists.
When Matteo Hovel was born at just 24 weeks’ gestation, weighing less than 2 pounds, the first person to take care of him was Gonzalo Hernandez-Argudin, MD, a neonatologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital. The hospital’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) provides infants with highly specialized care unavailable at most other area facilities. So Matteo’s parents knew their tiny son was in the best possible hands.
Too small and underdeveloped to go home, Matteo spent the first four months of his life in the NICU. His parents visited him every day. “Our son was not just another patient; the doctors and nurses knew him by name,” says Matteo’s mom, Erika Rosas. “They knew all about our family, and they involved us in Matteo’s care, which is so important. We are so grateful to Dr. Hernandez and the team at Advocate Children’s Hospital.”
Dr. Hernandez-Argudin and his partner, Thomas Myers, MD, created Renaissance Medical Group in 2000 to care for the smallest of patients. Board-certified neonatologists, Drs. Hernandez and Myers share a commitment and passion for exceptional care for tiny newborns in their charge. “Caring for these babies has built in rewards,” says Dr. Hernandez-Argudin. “Seeing a family with a happy, healthy child takes away all the difficulties.”
Over the years, their neonatology group has grown into a successful practice with 11 physicians and two hospitalists. But Drs. Hernandez-Argudin and Myers are the first to admit they did not flourish alone. “We know our success and Advocate Health Care’s success go hand in hand. The more impact the system has, the better we can do,” says Dr. Myers. “And we also partner with the nurses, therapists, pharmacy, labs and other physicians and surgeons. It really is a team effort.”
The doctors also understand that charitable gifts make a difference in advancing care, expanding facilities and improving outcomes. Philanthropic support from Renaissance Medical Group, grateful families and community supporters helped Advocate Children’s Hospital update the NICU seven years ago, and continues to fund the purchase of new equipment and to provide an extra measure of care to patients’ families. “We donate every year to help further develop the neonatology program and so we can treat more patients,” says Dr. Myers. “We want to inspire others to do the same and lead by example.”
And lead they do. Renaissance Medical Group has reinvested nearly $3 million through charitable gifts over the past 15 years, and their families and staff have also dedicated their time and treasure through donations, volunteering and attending events.
Renaissance Medical Group’s most recent philanthropic pledge is supporting a new NICU renovation. Currently at full capacity, the NICU at the Oak Lawn campus has a traditional open space layout where several babies are cared for together in a larger room. The new NICU will feature 60 individual rooms, where families can be alone with their baby and even spend the night.
“We believe having privacy for our patients and their families will allow them to feel more comfortable and open about how they are coping,” says Dr. Hernandez-Argudin. “Being able to be with their baby around the clock, and to participate in their care, will help families when it is time to transition home—which is the ultimate goal.”
One family who brought their baby home from the NICU was able to share their gratitude with Drs. Hernandez-Argudin and Myers at Advocate Children’s Hospital’s Halloween Bash last year. The Aldrich family presented the physicians with the Hearts for Hope Physician Award for their continued leadership, generosity and commitment to their patients. Born 15 weeks early and weighing just 2 lbs., 1 oz., Aaron Aldrich underwent several surgeries while in the NICU for 14 weeks. He is now a healthy 7-year-old.
“It’s amazing what Dr. Hernandez and Dr. Myers have built. It’s truly the best NICU team that I could have ever hoped for my child,” says Kori Aldrich. “What is important is that Aaron is a very typical and healthy boy—thanks to Advocate Children’s Hospital. They worked so hard to save my baby, and they did. They saved my baby and they saved me. I cannot imagine having been anywhere else.”