UIC honors ‘Champions for Children’

Five people who provide extraordinary care coordination for children with special health-care needs received the Champions for Children award from the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Division of Specialized Care for Children.

For more than 75 years, the Division of Specialized Care for Children has served families and children with disabilities throughout Illinois. Services are coordinated by a network of professional staff who develop relationships with partners and identify resources to help the children and their families. Each year, employees and board members nominate exceptional partners in care coordination.

This year’s recipients are:

Dr. Christopher Bender of Darien, Ill., who as a physician at DuPage Pediatrics consults with families after specialty appointments, coordinates multiple same-day appointments with specialists, and attends discharge planning meetings.  Dr. Bender offers emotional support for families managing the care of their special needs child.

Gail Eaton of Peoria, Ill., is an integral link between families at Peoria’s Children’s Hospital of Illinois and Specialized Care for Children.  She works as the clinical coordinator of pediatric services for the Congenital Heart Center. Eaton ensures families are referred in a timely manner and makes them aware of the services and treatments provided by Specialized Care for Children.

Deborah Grisko is president of Almost Home Kids, an organization located in Chicago and Naperville, Ill., that provides respite and transitional care for medically fragile, technology dependent children.  A Chicago resident, Grisko collaborates with a variety of health-care groups and public officials to develop policy affecting these children.

A physical therapist in the Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education, Janean Karpus has helped many children.  She communicates with doctors, vendors and Specialized Care for Children care coordinators with their equipment and medical needs.  A nominator said Karpus “has a way of drawing the child out and encouraging a positive response to therapy.” Karpus lives in Olney, Ill.

Gabriel Rinconeño, owner of MyCarga Electrical, is known for his honest and compassionate work.  He specializes in home care modifications including wiring upgrades, gates, openers and emergency power systems to make homes safer and more accessible for children with special health-care needs.  Rinconeño lives in Bolingbrook, Ill.