Chicago Lighthouse Celebrates Expansion Of UI Health Customer Care Center

Mike Krauser
May 08, 2019 - 1:40 pm
The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization that serves the visually impaired and disabled, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the renovation and expansion of its state-of-the-art, fully accessible UI Health Customer Care Center.

WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization that serves the visually impaired and disabled, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the renovation and expansion of its state-of-the-art, fully accessible UI Health Customer Care Center.

The improved call center, which handles a massive number of calls from UI Health patients, is expected to boost overall customer service. It will also provide a modern work environment for customer care center employees, many of whom are disabled or Veterans, according to The Chicago Lighthouse. The organization has provided employees for the care center since 2014.

“We extend our deepest appreciation to Dr. Barish (Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs at the University of Illinois at Chicago) and his team for the strong vote of confidence they have placed in The Chicago Lighthouse and our talented employees," said Lighthouse President and CEO Dr. Janet Szlyk, in a statement.  “We commend them for their outstanding commitment to opening doors to greater opportunities for the disabled and Veteran communities.”

The UI Health Customer Care Center provides general information, scheduling and coordinating of patient appointments, referrals and pre-registration, appointment reminders and connections to nurses who can answer health questions. Dr. Janet Szlyk said more than 140 employees will staff the call center; and the software, developed by Epic, can be used by people who are totally blind.

"This is ground-breaking. This is a game-changer. This will expand the job opportunities exponentially," Dr. Szlyk said.

The Chicago Lighthouse, an organization that serves the visually impaired and disabled, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday for the renovation and expansion of its state-of-the-art, fully accessible UI Health Customer Care Center.
WBBM Newsradio/Mike Krauser

UI Health CEO Michael Zenn said they handled 1.3 million calls last year. He called the Lighthouse call center workers a vital part of UI Health.

"We deal with people's anxieties and some of the toughest things they go through in their lives," he said.

Jim Neitzell, the assistant director of the call center, said the last time he saw his reflection in a mirror was in 2015, when he was declared legally-blind.  

"My self-confidence was completely shaken by my vision loss and this was an opportunity for me to see if I could still make a contribution in the world," he said.

Dr. Szlyk said 70-percent of people with disabilities are unemployed. She thanked UI Health for making a difference.