Newswise — The hefty cost of a Chicago hotel room is an expected expense for many who are traveling for business or pleasure. But for many Downstate families of Loyola liver patients, the added expense of a hotel room to be near a loved one battling a serious and chronic disease takes a huge financial toll. Theresa Shields Felts made regular overnight visits to Chicago from the Peoria-area when her husband, Jack Felts, received treatment and she counts herself blessed to have an open door invitation from her son and daughter-in-law.
“Some Downstate family members would sleep in their car or split the cost of a hotel room with strangers because they couldn’t afford the high price of a Chicago hotel room,” she said. “To care for a chronically ill loved one, many have to quit their jobs or take a leave of absence and money is tight.”
When her husband passed away, the retired Caterpillar manager created a unique legacy to honor him. “I wanted to ease the burden of others from our area that were walking the same path in our shoes,” she said
Now celebrating its fifth successful year, the annual Jack Felts Memorial Golf Outing which supports the Jack Felts Hepatology Patient Fund at Loyola will take place at noon on Saturday, May 10, at WeaverRidge Golf Club located at 5100 N. WeaverRidge Blvd. in Peoria.
All proceeds fund the Jack Felts suite at The Carleton Hotel in Oak Park so that families of patients from Downstate Illinois can stay for no cost up to five nights near the Maywood Loyola campus. “We have helped more than 45 families since August, 2013,” says Shields. “We aspire to be able to fund a second suite because the demand is so great.” In the past five years, the Jack Felts Memorial Foundation has raised almost $100,000.
“This year we have a new location, a new date and 25 teams of golfers compared to the 19 teams we generated our first year,” she said. “Many people come for the dinner and evening events, so it is much more than just a golf outing.”
Shields calls Dr. Scott Cotler, MD, director of the Division of Hepatology at Loyola University Health System, “the best kept secret in Peoria.” “People in Chicago or other urban areas have their choice of specialists, close to their home,” she said. “But here in our area, complex liver treatment is limited and driving the three hours each way to Chicago when your loved one is sick takes a toll.”
Scott Cotler, MD, director, Loyola liver program, and his Loyola hepatology colleagues travel Downstate to Peoria twice per month to care for as many as 250 patients, but complex care is treated at the Loyola University Medical Center outside of Chicago. “Jack Felts was a very special man and his family are very special people,” said Cotler. “Thanks to the selfless dedication of Jack’s wife, Theresa, hundreds of families over the past five years have been able to focus on their sick loved one rather than worrying about paying for a hotel stay.”
To watch Dr. Cotler talk about Loyola hepatology and the Jack Felts Foundation, click on https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dTJzXQtTkEo
For more information or to register for the golf outing, please visit jackfelts.com. or call (708) 216-3201.