By Eileen O. Daday
Daily Herald correspondent
Staff members with Hanover Township in Bartlett are mourning the loss of their community health director, who in six short years built a department that provided access to care for residents throughout Bartlett, Hanover Park and Streamwood.
Trisha Lynn Simon passed away Aug. 12 after a battle with colon cancer. The Bartlett resident was 40.
"She served township residents young, old and all those in between, while building a first class community health program," said Hanover Township Administrator James Barr.
Simon joined the Hanover Township staff six years ago as a community health nurse. Her position was established as part of a two-year pilot project that had been proposed by then Township Clerk Brian McGuire and approved by the township board.
Under Simon's direction, the department grew to provide a host of screenings and immunization clinics as well as conduct home visits to those in need. Her vision also included helping residents with chronic illnesses learn how to manage their disease, and helping uninsured and underinsured residents find access to primary care.
After the pilot program was up, the township board voted to establish the community health department, under Simon's direction.
"She had a knack for getting everyone to pull together for a common goal," says McGuire, now township supervisor. "She wanted to make sure that the program made a difference in the lives of the residents."
Both Barr and McGuire said there was a sense of urgency to Simon's plans. She took over the department after being diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer and yet she didn't let the diagnosis slow her.
"While some would have used that as a reason to quit, Trisha drew upon it to have empathy for those she was serving," McGuire added.
Along with the township's community health department, Simon worked with family and friends to establish the Trisha Lynn Simon Foundation, dedicated to helping people get screened for colon cancer early.
Last year the foundation, in conjunction with the township community health department and the Alexian Brothers Health System, arranged for free colonoscopies for low income residents, Barr added.
He also called Simon a "driving force" in the establishing the new health clinic that recently opened at the Greater Elgin Family Care Center.
"Many people spend a lifetime working in the public sector and wonder what they accomplished," McGuire said. "In six years, she built a department, established a foundation and showed us all what a little passion can do."
Simon is survived by her husband, Jeff, and sons, Nicolas and Ian, as well as her parents, David and Mary Gerndt, and brother, Brian.
Services have been held.