SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center is mourning the loss of Dr. Corinne Walentik, who died on Dec. 6 at the age of 63.
A funeral mass will be held at 10 a.m. Monday at Saint Francis Xavier College Church on the SLU campus at Grand and Lindell.
Dr. Walentik was a gifted neonatologist, community advocate and professor of Pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine. Colleagues and community members often described her as a patient advocate for babies and families.
"She was a brave woman with tremendous unmatched knowledge of community needs and resources regarding children's health care," said William Keenan, M.D., professor of neonatology at SLU and Walentik's colleague for 32 years. "She was a champion for children."
During her 36 years at SLU, Walentik held several academic positions. Most recently, she was the professor of pediatrics in the division of neonatal-perinatal medicine and physician executive for managed care and public policy at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. She graduated from SLU School of Medicine in 1974.
Walentik also had been chairman of the department of neonatology at St. Louis Regional Medical Center, co-director and director of Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Louis City Hospital, and staff neonatologist and director of nurseries at St. Mary's Health Center.
Juanita Hoyte, a neonatal nurse practitioner in the NICU at Cardinal Glennon, first met Walentik in 1973, when she was a graduate nurse and Walentik was a fellow at the former St. Louis City Hospital.
"Dr. Walentik was a strong advocate for nurses and babies," Hoyte said. "She loved teaching young mothers and was always giving them opportunities to care for their babies and themselves. She often encouraged mothers to go back to school and further their education."
Not only was Walentik dedicated to improving health care for children, she was also deeply involved with the public health of children through her work with the State of Missouri and American Academy of Pediatrics.
Mohamad Al-Hosni, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at SLU who worked with Walentik at SSM Cardinal Glennon's NICU for more than 10 years, said that she was compassionate and devoted to the care of newborns. "Dr. Walentik's main interests were to provide cost-effective health care for newborn infants," he said.
Outside of SLU, Walentik served on many boards and received local, regional and national recognition for her work on improving children's health care. She was in her second term as vice chair of the board of directors at Missouri Foundation for Health when she died. She also served on the board of St. Louis Regional Health Commission where she chaired the Provider Services Advisory Board, Nurses for Newborns Foundation, St. Louis ARC, and Childgarden Child Development Center. She was a founding member of the St Louis Maternal, Child and Family Health Coalition and a past president of the Missouri chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In 2011, St. Louis Women of Achievement Organization honored Walentik with the St. Louis Women of Achievement award for her exceptional involvement with Life Seekers, Nurses for Newborns and health care coalitions focused on the reduction of infant mortality rates, and in 2009, she received the Champions for Babies Award by Nurses for Newborns Foundation in 2009. She received many other awards for her contribution to the society, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Life and Legacy Award, the Child Advocate of the Year, and Non Social Worker of the Year.
"Dr. Walentik was always ready to volunteer and help out everybody else," said H. Farouk Sadiq, M.D., medical director of the NICU at SSM Cardinal Glennon. "She was very passionate about her work, especially regarding children's health and their needs at the state level."
Along with her dedication to kids and the community, she was also a wonderful friend. "Frank and honest," Keenan said.
"We recognize what a courageous person she was as she faced the illness. She was always upbeat and optimistic," Keenan said. "She was the institutional memory, but also the institutional conscience, reminding people of the sense of mission."
Walentik is survived by her husband David Walentik. They have three children: Anne, Kristine and Stephen Walentik, and one grandson, Benjamin Walentik.