Making A Difference

Heart Scare Prompts Hospital Staffer to Open New Community Pantry in Roseland

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Chrislin Flanagan has been busy stocking a cabinet in the lobby of the New Roseland Community hospital with basic necessities to create a new community closet, filled with food and toiletry items.

“We get up and use these things inadvertently and may not realize that other people may not have access to them,” Chrislin Flanagan, executive director of the Roseland Community Hospital Foundation and the creator of the new pantry that will be called Roseland Reserve.

Flanagan came up with the idea for Roseland Reserve pantry about eight months ago after her own health scare.

“We were working out and all of a sudden the machine was like, 'hey, you should probably stop,'” Flanagan said.

She went home to rest and had more issues the next day. Concerned about her health, the then-41-year old went in for tests, including a cardio echogram recommended by her care team.

“From that cardio echogram, it showed that I have severe valve regurgitation, which ultimately meant that blood was flowing out of my heart and right back into it, not making it to other parts of my body,” Flanagan said.

Flanagan needed open heart surgery to replace the leaky aortic valve. The surgery took place last June at University of Chicago hospital. During her post-surgery appointments, Flanagan noticed people kept going around the corner to a certain area of the hospital and coming back with various items.

“So I got up to be a little nosy and I noticed that there was an open food pantry,” Flanagan said. “What intrigued me the most about the food pantry is that people were going to get items, but they were not just taking massive things. They were literally very particular about what they needed.”

Flanagan immediately texted her boss, Tim Egan, president and CEO of Roseland Community Hospital and suggested they start a community pantry at the Roseland hospital.

“It was automatic acceptance. I think it’s just a brilliant idea in recognition of heart health month to show this hospital has got a lot of heart,” Egan said.

The Roseland Reserve pantry will be stocked with non-perishable food items, such as pasta and tomato sauce, cereal, canned soups and more.

“We get a lot of patients that are under or poorly nourished especially patients that come from the community,” said Dr. Khurram Khan, the hospital’s chief medical officer.

Toiletries, such as deodrorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste, as well as household items, including toilet paper, also line the shelves. To keep the cabinet stocked, the Roseland Community Hospital Foundation is accepting donated items, as well as monetary donations.

“The unique thing about this pantry is that unlike other pantries where they are specific days of the week they operate, this will be available very day that our staff is here,” Flanagan said. “They can literally check in at the security desk and request any item that is in the cabinet.”

The Roseland Reserve pantry will officially open to the public on Feb. 14, just in time for Valentine's Day.

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