Category Archives: Health

Has the Big Hurt Struck Out?



By Jonathan De Leon

Two years ago, The Big Hurt Brewhouse opened in September of 2014 on the corner of Cermak and Oak Park with boosters claiming it was the next great sports mecca and tourist attraction.

Now it stands quiet, with the sign “closed for remodeling” taped on the doors outside.

Neither restaurant management nor owner Frank Thomas, Chicago White Sox legend, could be reached.

Berwyn officials had no answers as well about the sudden closing. Continue reading


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Berwyn Tests Positive For Lead in Water

by Cory Lesniak

Berwyn residents are in the midst of a year of testing for lead in their water after high levels of toxic lead had appeared in their water lines for the second time in four years.

According to the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) the City of Berwyn has exceeded lead in 1992, 2011 and most recently in 2014. After the last round of tests by the city Some Berwyn water customers received a flyer explaining the problem in November, according to Kim Biggs, a spokeswoman for the IEPA said.

The IEPA has given Berwyn until Oct. 1 to identify the lead service lines and remove 7 percent of the lines they own. Berwyn’s water comes from the City of Chicago but the pipes the water flows through is to blame.

“Many of the service lines may be owned by homeowners, so the city would not be responsible for removing those lines,” said Dave McMilan, manager of the Division of Public Water Supply at the IEPA.

Additionally, Berwyn has to take and test 60 waters samples for lead and copper in the first six months of 2015 according to the IEPA.

Berwyn officials say they’ve already been doing the testing.

“The program absolutely exists, we’re full blown into it. We do the advance sampling (30 to 60) samples. Anyone with a water tap or a water meter by law must receive one of these mailers (pamphlets),” said Kristofer Hasman, Water Plant Operator for City of Berwyn said.

The City of Berwyn has always added a chemical called orthophosphate to the water. Berwyn pumps this chemical into the water system to limit lead and copper, which is normal according to the IEPA. Continue reading

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Berwyn Health Department Talks Vaccines

by Danielle Golab

Berwyn health officials are confident that the city’s children will be safe from measles, which is spreading in other parts of the country because of some parents’ resistance to vaccinations.

Nurse Tina Kloess at the Berwyn Health Department said that Berwyn is “not taking extra precautions at this point in time because there have been no outbreaks in the area”.

Students are required to provide records of vaccinations to their schools. Many vaccinations are needed in order for a student to be enrolled in school.

Kloess said that there are many different vaccinations that children need by a certain age. By kindergarten every child must have five — DTaP, polio, measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations.

By sixth grade children must have a hepatitis, Tdap and meningitis vaccine. Influenza vaccines are optional.

Kloess said that every school year nurses go over students’ records and see if they are vaccinated or not. If they are not they are put on a susceptible list and are not allowed to return to school until they show proof of vaccinations to the school. And

Oct. 15 is an exclusion day for children who have not been vaccinated. They are not allowed back in school until they show proof of vaccination.

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7th Annual Wellness Fair

By Elisa Juliano

Heritage Middle School’s gym was buzzing with many adults and children attending the 7th Annual Wellness Fair on March 13.

The fair had many exhibition booths and lots of free give aways. McNeal Hospital, the YMCA, the Berwyn Police Department, the Berwyn Fire Department and many other organizations participated in the fair.

In addition to visiting the many exhibits, attendees were also able to participate in numerous activities ranging from relaxing massages to adrenaline pumping exercises.

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Special Spaces gives Berwyn teenager’s room a makeover

Special Spaces Chicagoland knows that for children with life threatening illnesses a room can be a place of comfort.

Julissa Alvarez, a thirteen year old Berwyn resident with a rare form of cardiac cancer, received a room makeover this Tuesday from Special Spaces.

“I like the colors and everything, its a girly girl room,” said Julissa.

Julissa with her parents and siblings pose for a family portrait in her newly decorated room.

Julissa with her parents and siblings pose for a family portrait in her newly decorated room. (Photos courtesy of Special Spaces Chicagoland)

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Berwyn Annual Healthy Heart Fair makes a change

By Elisa Juliano

Berwyn’s annual Healthy Heart Fair will not include a blood drive this year.

“This will be the first Healthy Heart Fair where we don’t have a blood drive,” said Tina Kloess, the registered nurse of the Berwyn Public Health District.

Kloess explained that it was too difficult for participants to fast 12 hours before their appointments and then donate blood.

“To give blood you need to make sure you’ve had a nice meal and are well hydrated,” said Kloess.

Kloess said that a blood drive would be held in the future.

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An option for Illinois residents without health insurance

Get Covered Illinois is a new website, launched Oct. 1, that allows people to find the right health coverage.

“For the first time in U.S. history, quality health coverage is available to you regardless of your current health, income level or employment,” according to the website.

The website, set up by Gov. Pat Quinn, allows Illinois residents to review their health care and insurance options under the new Affordable Health Care Act as proposed by President Barack Obama, according to State Representative Lisa Hernandez.

Jose Espinoza is a state-certified Navigator for Get Covered Illinois who facilitates enrollments and assists those interested in coverage. He said Get Covered Illinois received money from a grant to serve cities out of Chicagoland suburbs. This enables Navigators like Espinoza to provide free assistance. 

“Community outreach and education is essential so our citizens know how this law works and what they need to do to get enrolled in they don’t have coverage,” said Espinoza. “Our goal is to reach as many people as possible and enroll those interested in doing so.”

Why is this so important now? People can only get coverage during special enrollment periods, according to Espinoza. Those who want coverage starting Jan. 1, 2014 need to enroll by Dec. 23, 2013. The final deadline for enrollment is March 31, 2014. Anyone who seeks coverage after this deadline must pay a $90 penalty. 

The first step in using this website is to go to The second step is to click “See your options.” This provide questions a user needs to answer that will decide if the user is qualified for Medicaid or for marketplace insurance.

For more information on how to get covered, visit Get Covered Illinois or contact Navigator Jose Espinoza at or (312) 913-9449.

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Paisans Pizzeria & Bar food allergy friendly

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar 6226 W Ogden Ave., Berwyn

Paisans Pizzeria & Bar 6226 W Ogden Ave., Berwyn

Researchers estimate that up to 15 million Americans have food allergies, according to Food Allergy Research and Education. Every 3 minutes, a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency department. While some restaurants are too afraid to take this risk with their guests, Paisans Pizzeria & Bar is one restaurant that welcomes those with food allergies.

“My daughter has tree-nut allergies, so I understand how hard it can be to eat out,” said General Manager Stacey Scott.

Paisans has a policy of accommodating all reasonable needs of a guest with food allergies. The chefs must clean all surfaces and utensils to prepare for a special order. During orientation and training, servers are taught how to handle these special requests.

“It’s not the server’s job to guess,” said Scott. “We tell our servers to get all the details and get a manager involved, if needed.”

Scott estimates that 20 to 30 people come in a week with food allergies. Some of the items on the menu can be prepared gluten-free. Other allergens can also be accommodated for.

“Every time we tell them about our gluten allergy, our server or bartender is very accommodating,” said Janine J., a Berwyn reviewer on 

Paisans’ executive chef, known as “Chef,” and two sous chefs, Sergio and Fransisco, are in charge of kitchen management. These three chefs rotate shifts to ensure that an experienced chef is on deck at all times during Paisans’ open hours. They oversee all special requests in the kitchen. 

“We do the best we can and are willing to go above and beyond to accommodate if its within our control,” said Scott. “We don’t want you to leave hungry.”

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Berwyn biker on life support

By: Anthony Garcia

After being involved in a biking accident on Dec. 3 around 5 p.m., a Berwyn bike rider remains in critical condition and is on life

Berwyn police investigate the scene of a serious bicyclist accident at the intersection of 26st., and East Ave., in Berwyn, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012.      (Courtesy of Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Berwyn police investigate the scene of a serious bicyclist accident at the intersection of 26st., and East Ave., in Berwyn, Monday, Dec. 3, 2012. (Courtesy of Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

support at Loyola University Life Hospital. Justin Carver was struck by a truck at the intersection of 26th and East Ave. as he attempted to cross 26th while the truck

simultaneously made a left turn off of East Ave. Carver was brought into Loyola’s Trauma Center unconscious according to Berwyn fire officials. Continue reading


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‘Svengoolie’ comes home to Berwyn

By Lavell Garner

Rich Koz, better known as his TV persona “Svengoolie” returned to his Berwyn home earlier this month after suffering a heart attack.

Koz spoke with Robert Fender of Timeout Chicago about how surprised he was to see how many of his fans actually took the time to send get-well cards and letters.

“’It’s pretty overwhelming to think about that. I haven’t had a chance to go online, but some of the guys from work brought printouts of things and a lot of the snail-mail letters and such that I’ve gotten. It’s really sweet of people. It’s very nice’,” Koz said.

It is unknown at this time when Koz will return to work.

The entire interview can be read at:‘pretty-overwhelminhttp%3A

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Youth organizations help the needy


By Anthony Garcia

Young people in Berwyn are taking the lead in bringing the holiday spirit to the less fortunate in Berwyn through organizations like Youth Crossroads and CIACO.

The non-profit Youth Crossroads is dedicated to helping the troubled or at-risk youth of Berwyn through any means necessary, 0providing free counseling and leadership programs and hosting events for the children and their families.

During the holiday season however, the young people helped by the organization look to give back to Berwyn, said Programs Director Joel Wallen.

“Throughout the year, they participated in dozens of volunteer opportunities in partnership with local governments, park districts and other social service agencies. When we presented the opportunity to help distribute food on Thanksgiving Day, it just seemed natural for them to volunteer,” Wallen said. Continue reading

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Performing Surgery with a Robotic Arm in MacNeal

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‘Svengoolie’ Actor Suffers Heart Attack

By: Lavell Garner

Actor and comedian Rich Koz, better known as his TV persona “Svengoolie”, suffered a heart attack at his home earlier this month.

Koz is stationed at a local Chicago hospital.

Koz has hosted horror movies on WCIU-TV. During his routines he regularly comments on Berwyn.

Neal Sabin, president of content and networks for Weigel Broadcasting issued a press release on Mon. Nov. 3, giving an update on Koz’s condition.

“Rich’s condition is improving and his family has asked for privacy at this time,” said Sabin.

No further details are available.

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Local Chefs Face Off in Berwyn

By Jackie Glosniak

The American Heart Association and Meijer hosted a National Healthy Eating Day Competition at  Vanguard MacNeal Hospital on Wed. Oct. 7. Local chefs made one main dish and one dessert each, where they were cooked, tested, and rated by a panel of four judges. Foods were featured from Berwyn restaurants Bodhi Thai Bistro, La Z de Oro, and La Notte Cafe Ristorante Italiano.

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West Suburban PADS Housing The Homeless

By: Lavell Garner

A chronically homeless man now has a place to stay, thanks to West Suburban PADS. The organization hopes to get two more homeless people housed this month. PADS organization submitted their numbers to the 100kHomes organization

The 100KHomes organization is a national movement, campaigning with national and local partners in hopes of bringing homelessness to an end.

Susie Bohun, the supportive housing manager at West Suburban PADS, explained the process in which an individual must complete to be able to be considered for housing.

“The process to assist individuals in obtaining housing varies greatly based on client desire and participation in the process, income level (not every client has income, so finding housing becomes very challenging), and locating an appropriate housing option”, she said.

It took three months to get housing for the most recent case, she said.

“The entire process took about three3 months from start to finish. If we have to assist clients with obtaining identification or trying to figure out if they may be eligible for some type of income, the process can take longer. It really depends on the person”, said Bohun.

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New Berwyn Group helps Community Face Challenge

Teens and young adults tackle one of the largest health concerns facing Berwyn and Cicero—HIV— with a new group—RAICES.

RAICES, meaning “roots” in Spanish is an acronym for Resources, Advocacy, Inclusion, Community, Education and Services. The group, in its early stages, was founded to bring HIV awareness to these two communities. The group also supports community members who identify with the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community and provides public services for them. Continue reading

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Problems highlighted by Degner’s death still damaging

Matthew Degner, son of Lydia Price, died in September, but there are still related problems locally and nationally: the house where they lived is still standing, and hoarding, a problem highlighted by his death, continues to afflict Americans.

Neighbors, including Horacio Hernandez of the 2800 block of Harvey, are concerned about the abandoned house. “Our concern is the house now because it’s abandoned. We don’t want an abandoned house in the area because people might try to live in there,” Hernandez said.

Hernandez said he didn’t want Berwyn to be known for the incident.

“[Price] was the only one outside of the loop of neighbors; she never really gave us an opportunity to help,” he said. “[Berwyn] is a very safe and clean neighborhood; there had been no serious problems until what happened.”

Berwyn Police Chief James Ritz described the circumstances of the animal hoarding. He said officers really didn’t get a chance to investigate because Price refused to admit them into the house. Although there were numerous calls, the closest officers ever came to entering the home was in 2004 when there was a call about a possible methamphetamine lab due to a stench. At that time, officers spoke with Price and saw dog feces, which were causing the smell, according to Ritz, who said they asked numerous times to enter the home and “did everything they could to investigate.”

“She was well within her rights to deny them entry,” Ritz said. “No judge would grant a warrant based on dog feces…the officers did everything they could.”

Police discovered the conditions of the house after they found Degner dead outside the home in the 2800 block of Lombard Avenue on Thursday, Sept. 8. They were then able to enter the home, where they found more than 200 animals living with Price, her four children and the children’s grandmother. Degner died of bronchopneumonia.

“It’s senseless to put blame on anyone…that’s not going to bring Matthew back,” Ritz said. He said the Berwyn police department conducted a critical incident debriefing for the officers involved since the situation was so horrendous. “We always offer counseling and monitor officers’ welfare to make sure no one begins to suffer PTSD,” he said. “It was something you hope you never see again.”

Hoarding, however, is more common than previously thought, according to Dr. John E. Calamari, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board at OCD Chicago, an organization that provides resources about obsessive compulsive disorder, and professor and chair of the psychology department at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science in North Chicago, Ill. “Hoarding goes unnoticed because they don’t come in for treatment,” he said. “There aren’t very good estimates, but its prevalence is higher than that of OCD, which is about 2 to 3 percent of the population.”

Calamari said hoarding is a heritable problem; its prevalence is increased if a person is related to someone who has hoarded. This connection is stronger than that of OCD, he said. Though it has seemed in the past that hoarding is a type of OCD, Calamari said hoarding appears to be different from OCD because the treatments that generally help people who have OCD, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) and cognitive behavioral therapy, don’t seem to help people who have a hoarding problem. SSRI’s are a popular medication generally used to treat anxiety disorders and depression, while cognitive behavioral therapy is a class of therapies that focus on a client’s thoughts and try to change his or her thoughts in order to change behavior and emotions.

“This is a complicated problem…there is emerging research that suggests it involves lots of things, possibly including ADHD. There are a number of things that come together due to biological and learning experiences that make it more possible for hoarding to happen,” Calamari said. “It’s a severe mental illness we don’t really understand.”

Price is scheduled to have a court proceeding at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 14 at the Fourth Municipal District Courthouse in Maywood.

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