Stacey Jutila knows the halls well. She has walked miles in those halls. She knows Moses, and all the rest of the Bible. Plenty of the Koran too. Jutila, 32, is the night chaplain at Children’s. She is among the few ordained ministers assigned full time to the night watch of a hospital, in Chicago or beyond. Usually, nights are covered by whoever happens to be on call. Maybe a student. Maybe someone who drew the short stick.
Not so at Children’s. Folks there listened to the nurses, the doctors. Listened most of all to parents who cried out for someone to lean on when the place, finally, is quiet. When you can hear the sounds that don’t sound one bit like home.
“Nighttime here, especially in the [intensive care unit], is the hardest time anywhere,” says Carly Haniszewski, 29, of northwest suburban Huntley. Her only child, 2-year-old Teagan, has a brain tumor and, beginning June 1, the day after the toppling toddler fell flat on her face off a couch, and everyone, especially her mother and father, realized something was wrong, very wrong, she spent 71 nights in intensive care, took six trips to the O.R., was twice told she would not live through the night.
“Your family’s all gone,” the mother explains of the curse of the nighttime. “The floor has become quiet. You hear more of a hospital, the machines. You don’t hear a ventilator until it’s nighttime. You can hear every breath of the bag. You know that that noise is giving your child that breath, and without it, she couldn’t stay alive.