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NorthShore Close-Up: Jean Tuszynski

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 1:38 PM

As part of National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, we are celebrating longtime NorthShore employee Jean Tuszynski.

Jean Tuszynski

When Tuszynski—now a hospital operator—started working at Evanston Hospital, she was the billing office. She created the bills; folded, stapled and mailed them; and managed the three file drawers that held all the billing records. It was 1970, and Tuszynski had just graduated from high school and began what is now a five-decades-plus career with NorthShore.

She moved on to a Unit Secretary position and then to the Emergency Department and Central Registration before being tapped to help staff the Emergency Department when Glenbrook Hospital opened in 1977.

“I loved all of it. I made fabulously good friends whom I still see,” said Tuszynski, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the age of 13. In 1979, after gradually losing her sight over the course of several months, Tuszynski went blind.

“I was home for about a month or two after I went blind, and then I thought, ‘This is crazy. I’m going back to work!’” she recalled. With a little prodding, Tuszynski convinced Human Resources to give her a chance, and she began her new role as a hospital operator.

Jean Tuszynski

“In 42 years, we’ve had five different systems and I’ve taught most of them,” said Tuszynski, who continues to work two days a week as a Glenbrook Hospital operator. Remarkably, Tuszynski has every phone number committed to memory.

“I’m a computer in my head. I kind of have to be,” she said. “I know every phone number I’ve ever dialed. I’ve had to utilize the skills and the senses I have.”

“She’s like all our other operators. The only thing she doesn’t do is emergency calls,” said Hospital Operators Manager Jessica McNeary. “If you didn’t already know Jean was blind, you would have no idea. I don’t treat her any differently than any of our other operators.”

“Jean has encouraged so many of us and shared her wealth of information about NorthShore,” said hospital operator Maria Paredes. “She continues to be an inspiration to our team in Telecommunications.”

“I learn something new every day, and I love that,” said Tuszynski, who is grateful for her team members and extended family at NorthShore. “Everybody is very helpful, and if I can make somebody else think their day is a little better, it’s a bonus.”

“It’s wonderful to celebrate such a long-term employee,” said McNeary. “We’re so glad she’s a part of our team and are appreciative of all the history and help she shares with us. She’s a straight shooter, and we enjoy her personality and her camaraderie.”