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COVID Hero - Maria Villanueva

Friday, January 15, 2021 1:30 PM
Tags: COVID-19

COVID Heroes is a new feature highlighting employees who go above and beyond during this extraordinary time in healthcare. Each week we will highlight a new COVID Hero who demonstrates commitment and compassion in everything they do. From the frontlines to behind the scenes, every team member at NorthShore is vital to our success and to providing the best care for our patients.

This week we feature: 

Maria Villanueva
NorthShore’s ability to provide high-level care during the pandemic required resilience and flexibility from the entire organization, with many team members taking on completely new roles and responsibilities. Maria Villanueva, Manager, Quality & Care Transformation, was one of the unsung heroes who stepped up in March. Among her new responsibilities was notifying patients of their COVID test results.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were hundreds of calls to make each day, and new information from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control was continuously streaming in. Maria had to keep up with the latest instructions for patients. The calls were complicated and time-consuming, and she handled them with compassion and care.

“There were so many front line workers who can’t be thanked enough, but Maria was one of those workers who many never saw, but who made a huge difference in how families reacted to the news they were positive and how they learned to manage that diagnosis.“said Clinical Coordinator Peggy O.

Maria Villanueva


Previous COVID Hero Profiles:

Veronica Kaiboussi
A part of the Skokie COVID-19 drive through testing center since its inception, Medical Assistant Veronica Kaiboussi has played a key role in the team’s success.

"Veronica puts the care of her patients before everything else and always makes sure she is there for them; both medically and emotionally,” said Senior Secretary Anorin A. “Whether it’s 100 degrees, pouring rain, or a quiet day testing hundreds of patients for a deadly virus, Veronica is in the field, day after day, helping those who need it, with a smile on her face and no complaint in sight.”

“Veronica makes her patients a little less afraid with her kind energy and laughter,” added Anorin. “I’ve seen her in action, I’ve been her patient, and I know what her work means to her.”

Veronica Kaiboussi


Mary Alice Lavin

Infection Prevention and Control leadership is always critical in health care. During a pandemic, the stakes are even higher. NorthShore’s Director of Infection Prevention and Control Mary Alice Lavin is the perfect person for the job, according to Chief Medical Officer Lakshmi Halasyamani, MD.

Mary Alice ensured our frontline teams had what they needed to provide the best possible care to patients during the COVID-19 crisis. From making sure testing follow-up was in place to answering unending questions about PPE, Mary Alice has been a “go to” resource for NorthShore.

"Mary Alice takes it all in stride. She has an unbelievable amount of knowledge, energy and amazing attention to detail. She gives 100% to every question asked of her and thinks each challenge through with such thoughtfulness. Mary Alice makes everything we do better,” remarked Dr. Halasyamani.

Mary Alice Lavin


Emma Benton

Housekeeper Emma Benton's compassion for patients has become even greater during the pandemic. “Emma takes the time to walk patients down the hallway,” said Clinical Nurse Manager Vesna N. who stopped to document the kindness. “She is a godsend and so good with them. The fact that she does this is incredible!”

When she was thanked for her exceptional care, her response was telling: “I know they don’t have the ability to have family visit them during this pandemic, so I become their family while they are here,” said Benton.

“Emma epitomizes everything a healthcare worker should be—patients are truly at the heart of everything she does,” said Aramark Vice President of Operations Steve E.

Emma Benton