For Immediate Release March 01, 2024

 The first Friday of March is set aside as Employee Appreciation Day to recognize and thank employees for their contributions. Here at SIH, over 4,000 staff members go above and beyond to create a quality experience for patients and each other.

SIH Pathologist Dr. Oleskii "Alex" Iakymenko experienced this dedication first-hand during his provider onboarding in 2023. Before studying at the University of Florida, Dr. Iakymenko lived in Ukraine.

“As an international medical graduate, I was granted a J1 visa to attend training in pathology. This visa mandates practicing medicine in a home country for two years upon graduation from residency. To avoid this restriction and continue a career in the US, one needs to apply for a ‘waiver.’ SIH is one of those institutions that provides such an opportunity.”

When the J1 Visa expires, people travel back to their home country to wait for their working visa. Obtaining a work visa and medical license to practice in the United States can take up to eight months.

“Although visiting a home country while changing visa status is a common practice among my colleagues, the full-scale war in Ukraine made this option elusive in my case. My family and I settled in Southern Illinois, and the only way to fix my visa was to complete all the required steps as soon as possible. This necessitated focusing on every small detail, and the experience of the SIH staff was invaluable.”

Receiving a medical license in the United States is a multi-step process. Dr. Iakymenko needed approval from many institutions, including state and federal departments.

“SIH helped me through this process as fast as possible. We got my medical license in six weeks. For comparison, it takes usually for people about six months. I have a friend who got a job in Illinois at the same time , but it took her six months to receive her visa. No one helped her with the process. She didn't have such guidance as I received here, even close.”

SIH Physicians Relations staff assisted Dr. Iakymenko with every step of the process. They helped him obtain a bank account, enroll his daughters in school and even purchase a new car.

“They are ready to help even on the weekends. Tara Gaugh went with me to a car dealership on a Saturday. Everybody wants to be with family on Saturday, but she went with me and spent the day.”

Because of dedicated SIH colleagues, Dr. Iakmenko’s complete transition to SIH took only four months. Their dedication protected him from returning to Ukraine.

“My wife and I are truly grateful for the warm welcome and support we found in Southern Illinois. I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Tara Gough, Jordia Andre, Kamille Burgin and Michelle Castoldi for always being around and ready to help. With their outstanding support, my wife, daughters and I were able to adapt to our new environment, which has already become our new home.”

SIH is grateful for the hard work of all its employees. Both medical and non-clinical staff contribute to the quality of the patient experience. From nursing to food service, from providers to IT, we are thankful for every employee’s hard work.