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Lovell FHCC Monthly Newsletter - August 3, 2021

A Message from Leadership ...

Robert G. Buckley, MD, MPH, FACEP, Director 


The coronavirus has not gone away. Tragically, the number of cases, hospitalizations and deaths are again climbing across the country. 

On Thursday, July 29, President Biden announced that all federal employees will be required to receive the vaccination or be tested regularly.  While the vast majority of our FHCC staff is fully vaccinated, we embrace this decision in our continual effort to protect our patients, their families, caregivers, and each other.

Data show that the vaccines do work. As the President reported during his press conference, a recent study showed that over 99 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been among the unvaccinated. The Delta variant, which now comprises more than 83 percent of all COVID-19 cases in the U.S., is an estimated 225 percent more transmissible than the original strain of the virus. But according to data from the UK, which has been battling the Delta variant longer than we have in the U.S, the vaccines remain effective against this stronger strain. Although cases among immunized do occur, hospitalizations and deaths are rare.

If you or your loved ones have not yet gotten vaccinated, it’s not too late.  We continue to vaccinate our enrolled VA and TRICARE patients, as well as other veterans, their spouses and caregivers, ages 12 and up. Information about upcoming FHCC vaccine clinics is in the righthand column, under “Did You Know?"

At this time, the FHCC and other health care facilities are not offering booster shots, in accordance with the most up-to-date CDC and FDA guidance. However, facemasks are again recommended for all —including those who are vaccinated — when you are outside of your home, especially in indoor, public locations, in accordance with the latest CDC guidance. Again, those vaccinated are very unlikely to get seriously ill from the virus. However, they can still contract it and spread it to others. Remember, for all Lovell staff everywhere, hospital grade face masks like those issued by screeners and supervisors, must be worn at all times.

While the pandemic isn’t over, the vaccines are highly potent weapons. They’re now very accessible to all in the FHCC community.  Please help yourself and help us all to survive COVID-19 and move on to a better and brighter future.

Let's Get Social

FHCC has a presence on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Please see the links below to visit our social media sites. Below are the posts that received the highest engagement for the month.

Top Posts from July

Frocking Ceremony 


Navy Medicine Readiness and Training Command Great Lakes - located at Lovell FHCC - held a frocking ceremony for the command's recently promoted sailors July 20.

Congratulations to the Navy's newest First Class, Second Class, and Third Class Petty Officers! See the full photo album from the ceremony on the Lovell FHCC Facebook page.

FHCC Baby Shower Event

Baby Shower  

Thanks to the VFW Auxiliary and the American Legion Auxiliary for making our recent baby shower for veteran moms-to-be so special! The event is sponsored by the Illinois VFW Auxiliary units. The moms received a very generous amount of supplies for their new babies, as well as "Mommy Boxes" and flowers.

View some photos from the event on our FHCC Facebook page.

Farewell Dr. Maldonado 


When Dr. Frank Maldonado first arrived at the hospital formerly known as North Chicago VA Medical Center in 1992, he wasn’t expecting his tenure here to extend beyond an initial 3-year contract.

Twenty-seven years later, Maldonado is now retiring from federal service as the chief medical executive of the facility now known as the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center.

Read the full story on Dr. Maldonado's 30+ Year career on our FHCC Facebook page.

Lovell FM Team Goes Above & Beyond 

FM rec 2  

The Fourth of July spirt was evident at the FHCC this holiday, thanks to our Facility Management team. 

FM put extra work in this month to ensure flags were posted for the July 4th holiday, and developed a temporary fix, despite pouring rain, to an electrical power issue with the marquee at our Lewis St. gate.

View the photos from their recognition on our FHCC Facebook page.

Lovell ICU Nurse Deploys to Little Rock VA Medical Center


DEMPS volunteers (left to right) RN Leoella Judilla from Lovell FHCC, Christy Balenger from the Jesse Brown VAMC, and Melissa Berendsen from the Marion VAMC deployed to the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas to augment staff facing a surge of COVID-19 variant cases.

Story by Mass Communication Specialist Minh-Thy Chu

Photo provided by RN Leoella Judilla.

Intensive Care Unit Nurse Leoella Judilla is working long hours in an ICU facing a spike of COVID-19 variant cases, but not at the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center, her usual workplace.

Judilla is currently deployed to the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital, a Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Little Rock, Ark. through the Disaster Emergency Medical Personnel System. DEMPS deploys clinical and non-clinical volunteers any time another VAMC or community needs help, whether it’s due to a natural disaster or other emergency.

The VAMC in Little Rock increased its bed capacity to accommodate the rising number of COVID-19-related cases but did not have enough staff to meet the new demands. To augment the medical staff, DEMPS volunteers were sent to Little Rock from all over the country.

“I decided to volunteer for this deployment because our veterans need the care that they all deserve,” Judilla says. “If our facility needed help, I would greatly appreciate other VA nurses helping us, too.”

This is Judilla’s first time deploying with the DEMPS program. While deployed, she has been working 12-hour shifts in the medical intensive care unit that currently accommodates 17 beds, many more than what she is used to with her job in Lovell FHCC’s ICU.

Judilla says the challenge for her during this deployment has been adapting to the medical center’s different charting system, medication dispensing units, protocols, and equipment. Another difference between the facilities is more personal protective equipment is required at the Little Rock VAMC due to the number of COVID-19 positive patients. The Center for Disease Control recently reported cases of the delta strain now make up about 83% of new infections in the United States, and most deaths from the disease are among unvaccinated people. The COVID-19 variants are proving to be more transmissible than the first version of the virus and are leading to surges of cases in every state in the country.

The increased PPE measures at the Little Rock VAMC include wearing powered air-purifying respirators for entire shifts, a form of PPE Lovell FHCC staff only uses during aerosol-generating procedures like intubation. Little Rock also has a PPE czar monitoring patient rooms, and all MICU rooms have been converted to negative pressure.

“This was a new experience for me, and it gave me a unique insight on how the other VA hospitals operate,” Judilla says. “It is quite different to be living in a hotel and out of your suitcase but a wonderful experience all throughout. I would do it again if the opportunity presented itself.”

In the past year alone, DEMPS volunteers from Lovell FHCC have been deployed to Puerto Rico, Louisiana, and Mississippi after natural disasters and California, Maryland, and Virginia for COVID-19-related emergencies.

As of now, Lovell FHCC has 49 fully qualified DEMPS volunteers, said Gil Diaz, DEMPS program manager. The goal of the facility’s DEMPS program is to be able and ready to assist other VA facilities in times of need, which is why Diaz plans to double the current number of volunteers. Interested staff members may reach him by email at

“The staff that deploy are all volunteers, you never have to say yes,” Diaz says. “That being said, the ones that are willing to deploy understand you’re in for long days and hard work. They say yes because they all enjoy helping and being part of a small special team.”

Caregiver Support Resource Fair

CSP fair


On behalf of the FHCC Caregiver Support Program, we invite you to join us for our “Grab & Go” Caregiver and Family Resource Fair. Our goal is to promote the health and well-being of family caregivers who care for our nation’s Veterans, through education, resources, support, and services.

This event will provide an opportunity to meet a Caregiver Support Coordinator and receive a resource bag to bring home with you. Feel free to stop by during the week of August 23-27 any time between 9:00am-Noon.  We will share a wealth of information for informal caregivers and families of veterans, along with sharing a host of tools and resources that are available within the VA, FHCC, and our local community partners.

For any questions, please contact Kristina Naidicz, MSW, LCSW at 224-610-7507.

Location: FHCC Caregiver Center (Building 133-EF, Room 2A-117)

Date: August 23-August 27

Time: 9:00am – Noon

Sent to Email Address on behalf of US Department of Veterans Affairs
Veterans Health Administration · 810 Vermont Avenue, NW · Washington, DC 20420 · 877-222-VETS (877-222-8387)