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Giving Back Blog

  • Writer's pictureAscension Illinois Foundation

Superior Ambulance Service Leads the Way


Superior Ambulance Service Vice President of Business Development Mary Franco (left) and CEO David Hill attend the gala in Chicago, Illinois, on February 29, 2020.

For as long as there has been a gala for legacy Alexian Brothers and Presence Health ministries, Superior Ambulance Service Vice President of Business Development Mary Franco has attended. Franco said she views Ascension Illinois’s hospitals as an extension of the Superior Ambulance Service family, rooted in strong relationships and a commitment to a great mission — a commitment that continued even in 2021, when no gala was held due to the global pandemic.

“It’s not just about the great party,” Franco said. “It’s about doing whatever you can to meet the mission. Those philanthropic dollars close the gap in a lot of programs that aren’t 100% funded.”

Mental Health Needs Are Surging

This year, as in communities across the U.S., behavioral healthcare has emerged as an increasing need in the greater Chicago area. The number of youth living with major depression is increasing. The number of adults having serious thoughts of suicide is increasing. Substance abuse rates that had been increasing before the pandemic have worsened.

And yet many people — for example, more than half of adults with mental illness — do not receive treatment, according to Mental Health America. Without treatment, symptoms become more serious and lead to crises. Emergency rooms everywhere are feeling the impact of this firsthand as they deal with high patient volumes, in large part due to patients in psychiatric crisis or in need of medical detoxification.

Ascension Illinois Responds to Mental Health Crisis

Thanks to the generous leadership of philanthropic partners like Superior Ambulance Service, who is the presenting sponsor for this year’s gala, Ascension Illinois is responding to the area’s mental health crisis. The seventh-largest behavioral health provider in the U.S., and the largest in Illinois, the system offers the most specialized services available in the greater Chicago area and impacts more than 200,000 people each year.

Funds raised at this year’s gala will directly support people in need of behavioral medicine and substance abuse treatment at legacy Alexian Brothers and Presence Health hospitals. For example, they will be used to help open Chicago’s first specialized inpatient eating disorder unit. They will help provide the safest, most dignified care for people who come to emergency rooms in psychiatric crisis or in need of medical detoxification. They will support crisis workers, nurses and behavioral health counselors who are responding on the front lines to the needs of increasing numbers of children, adolescents and adults.

Franco said Superior Ambulance Service is excited to continue their support and the tradition of creating great memories with friends. “We are so fortunate and blessed in so many ways that we really believe in continuing our philanthropic support with Ascension Illinois, one of our longest-standing partners through all the years,” she said. “Now more than ever it’s important for all of us to look at what we can do.”

The gala will be April 9, 2022, at the Field Museum, and will benefit the legacy Alexian Brothers and Presence Health ministries of Ascension Illinois.

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