‘He's My Protector': Retired Cops Guard Nurses Visiting Patients in City, Suburbs

Some retired Chicago cops are stepping into new roles as security guards for area nurses who make house visits in crime-ridden neighborhoods.

Annissa Forney is one of those nurses, she works for Advocate Healthcare's At Home Service. Her guard is Jerry Houston, a 26-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department.

"He is always there for me, he's my protector, he's like my big brother," Forney said.

Houston accompanies Forney to neighborhoods where gangs and street violence are common, like Aburn Gresham on Chicago's South Side.

"I am worried about not making it home to my family, my kids," Forney said. "Is it the crime in the neighborhood? It's most definitely the crime in the neighborhood."

Forney checked in on one of her regular patients Thursday, Ora Reece.

"I just wanna say, I wish I had all nurses like you," she said to Forney.

So far this year, Advocate At Home has made about 1,400 secured visits to Auburn Gresham and another 1,000 to the Chatham neighborhood.

Advocate says the need for security to accompany its healthcare workers is not only great in the city, but more and more, in the suburbs as well.

"We started out with a few security guys," said Tom Flanagan of Accord Detective Agency. "We are almost up to 60 now."

Forney and Houston continue to work as a team, making sure patients get the care they deserve, no matter where they live.

"I feel it's a great service being there, people getting service where they otherwise wouldn't be getting service," Houston said.

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