Everyday Heroes 2018: Amy Wlodek

Amy Wlodek of Advocate Good Shepherd is photographed for the Everyday Heroes project on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.
Amy Wlodek of Advocate Good Shepherd is photographed for the Everyday Heroes project on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018 at the Northwest Herald in Crystal Lake.

Amy Wlodek came from a medical family.

Her father was a doctor. Her mother was a nurse. The apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

Wlodek has more than 30 years of experience as a critical care and emergency nurse at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington.

“I love being linked to the community and caring for people of all ages,” Wlodek said.

She worked in the intensive care unit for about 10 years, and has spent the last 17 in the emergency department. In her current role, she cares for cardiovascular patients, those in need of open-heart surgery.

And sometimes, by chance, she cares for those patients during the operation process and later on when they near a full recovery.

“To see that whole circle [of recovery] is very rewarding,” Wlodek said. “I enjoy in the emergency department when I see a patient I know and they say, ‘Amy is here.’ Seeing that familiar face gives them comfort and helps them not to worry.”

Longtime co-worker Lori Pinzon said Wlodek is known to assist new nurses, get involved in all types of activities and gets others involved, too.

“She demonstrates a servant’s heart and attitude,” Pinzon said. “After this many years, she continues to shine with a joy for what she does every day. Patients continuously write notes about how great she is.”

When she’s not nursing in the hospital, she might still be nursing elsewhere.

“It’s a great profession that has opened a lot of other doors for me,” Wlodek said, having just returned from a weekend retreat in January.

She’s worked the medical tent at the Chicago Marathon for six straight years – not to mention she ran the race once.

She serves twice a year as a nurse at camps for up to 1,600 high schoolers.

She raises money for humanitarian aid through World Vision.

“Amy [Wlodek] volunteers extensively outside of work and recruits many of her colleagues to join her, leading the way by example and with passion,” Pinzon said.

Wlodek’s son, Michael, remembers a couple of instances where his mom’s nursing intuition and background kicked in in a big way.

Michael was born with six toes on one foot. When he was 3, he had to have a toe removed.

“I remember her praying over the surgery and hoping everything would go safely,” Michael said. “I also remember her talking to doctors about the process and how to recover from it.”

Another time, Michael had a kidney stone. She talked with doctors about the treatment and coached her son through it.

“When there’s a challenge that occurs, she won’t fear from it,” Michael said about his mom. “She will find the best way to manage it and figure out how to make sure everyone is safe.”

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