Dr. Scott Yen

Community provided lunches are lifting morale among medical residents working at West Suburban Medical Center during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fear is a common emotion when treating a potentially deadly virus according to Dr. Scott Yen, director of the internal medicine residency at West Sub, but the internal medicine and family medicine residents at the Oak Park facility are determined to face this fight.

Hardworking residents man the hospital 24/7 in rigorous 12-24-hour shifts. That brisk pace has only increased during the COVID-19 crisis,  but a Meal Train organized by Cathy Yen,  supported by members of the Oak Park and River Forest community, has become a bright spot during stressful hospital shifts.

The collection of 40 family and internal medicine residents at West Sub work in groups of 25 per shift. Time is short during busy days and residents are rarely fed by the hospital. Additionally, the hospital cafeteria closes at 2 p.m., making food options scarce later in the day. Organizing meals has ensured all internal and family medicine residents will have access to a full meal every day of the week.

“Residents are not paid a large salary and having these lunches makes them feel appreciated.” said Dr. Yen. “The donations show the community cares about the work we are trying to do here while people are getting very sick.”

The Meal Train offers slots for individual community members to order a lunch for 25 every day of the week. A few slots to host a meal for 25 are still available, and cash donations in any amount are also accepted to provide meals for the Night Float Team made up of up to six members daily.

Kinslahgher co-owner and River Forest resident, Keith Huizinga, hosted a restaurant-made lunch for the young medical professionals last week.

“Healthcare workers are the foot soldiers in the battle with Covid-19 and we all need to pitch in and support them to the best of our ability,” said Huizinga. “Doing so while also supporting local businesses like Carnivore is really a no brainer.”

Meal Train participants have already organized meals from Trattoria 225, LaVergne’s Tavern, Pig and Fire, Courageous Bakery, Delia’s Kitchen, Starship Restaurant and Hecho en Oak Park. Candies from River Forest Chocolates and mini chocolate pies from The Happy Apple Pie Shop received rave reviews from residents last week. The Meal Train schedule indicates residents should anticipate receiving meals from Billy Bricks, Lea French Street Food, Karl’s Craft Soup/Sugar Beet Schoolhouse and Alpine Subs in the coming weeks.

Dr. Yen emphasized just how much young doctors appreciate little gestures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 “These residents are young, and I care about them like they are my own kids,” said Dr. Yen. “Seeing them fed everyday really tugs at my heart because I see how these lunches brighten their mood.”

Interested in helping the residents in Internal Medicine and Family Medicine at West Suburban Medical Center? Sign up to provide a meal (spaces are likely limited) or make a donation to feed the night float team at https://www.mealtrain.com/trains/2y0my8

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