“Memories Matter.2” Provides Community Hug


Whether we like it or not, dementia and its effects are a sad reality for all too many individuals and their families in the Sauk Valley. The CGH Health Foundation “Memories Matter.2” annual fundraising campaign is providing a community hug by assisting with the rising number of dementia cases being treated at CGH Medical Center.

The Dementia Project is focused on raising awareness of the disease and offering resources and assistance to those impacted. The $550,000 campaign goal includes funding a second year of the initiative as well as 14 other programs.

Leading the campaign is General Chair Suzy Perino (Market President-Rock Falls, Sauk Valley Bank). Her leadership team includes: Dr. Eric Kuhns, Medical Division Chair (CGH family practice physician); Larry and Vicki Cooper, Business Division Co-Chairs (Thrivent Financial Representative and office assistant); Sarah Willey, Clubs Division Chair (Educational Consultant); Janice Repass, CGH Employee Division Co-Chair (CGH Gastroenterology Dept. technician), and Dugan Repass, CGH Employee Division Co-Chair (CGH physical therapist).

“I see so much caregiver burnout in my practice and can already see the relief in some of my families because of what the Foundation did this past year,” said Dr. Eric Kuhns, serving for a second year as Medical Division Chair for the fund drive. “The pandemic only exacerbated our caregiver stress, both directly and indirectly. Because the Foundation is local and nimble, we can respond in a real-time way to answer the need by doing something unique and concretely helpful.”

One of the most significant results of last year’s fund drive was the ability to hire new CGH Dementia Navigator Beth Sterk. She began her duties in late March. She is the liaison between medical providers and their patients/families to help them access education and resources so essential for their care.

“We’ve literally offered a hug to our community through this free service,” said Dr. Kuhns. “Beth is now providing that missing link for our patients and families by first listening to their stories and adversities, then connecting them with essential resources. Continued funding of this role is integral to filling gaps that have been identified in local dementia support.”

The Foundation has been instrumental in creation of six support groups in Sterling, Polo, Chadwick, Mt. Morris, Morrison, and Prophetstown in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association. This effort will continue as will the $300 grant program for area nursing homes to provide sensory therapy items. Five facilities have received assistance, including Morningside, Citadel, and Allure of Sterling, Morrison Resthave and Allure of Prophetstown.

A 9-week Lifescape Stress-Busting class for dementia caregivers is being hosted Aug. 1 through Sept. 26. More educational programs will be provided for the public. A comprehensive listing of resources is being developed. A committee is being formed to look into creation of a drop-in daycare center.

More than 6.5 million Americans are living with dementia and the number is projected to reach nearly 14 million by 2050. Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of all dementia cases.

Make a gift online at www.cghmc.com/givingback, via Venmo @CGH-HealthFoundation, or by sending a check to CGH Health Foundation, c/o Foundation Executive Director Joan Hermes, 100 E. LeFevre Road, Sterling IL 61081. For more information, please visit www.cghmc.com/foundation or contact Joan Hermes at 815/625-0400, ext. 5672, or [email protected].

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