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Doctor walks to Wrigley Field during his journey to hit every MLB ballpark, raising awareness about preventable deaths in health care settings

Shannon Ryan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

He arrived at his favorite ballpark Saturday surrounded by fellow advocates and people who have lost loved ones to preventable medical errors.

At each finish line, Mayer or a family sets aside a stone he has painted with the names of someone who has died, and he holds a moment of silence.

Barbara Malizzo and her daughter Kristina Chavez placed pink and green stones in a flower bed near the Ernie Banks statue outside Wrigley to honor Michelle Malizzo Ballog and Bob Malizzo.

Ballog died at 39 in 2011 after lapsing into a coma when monitoring errors were made while she was under anesthesia. Her death led the family to become staunch advocates for hospital transparency and collaboration to fix hospital procedures that lead to mistakes.

Bob Malizzo died from illness -- not medical error -- last year, but he was passionate about working on the cause for his daughter.

"It's more important now than ever to let people know that awareness they need to have and how dedicated doctors and nurses and caregivers and even janitors in hospitals are so dedicated to keeping people safe," Barbara Malizzo said. "When people go through this, they realize. Otherwise, they take it for granted. It's very important keep awareness up. What Dr. Mayer is doing is contributing to that."

Said Chavez: "As difficult as it is, it's something very important to carry on. That's why we still do it. My sister was a very giving person and also an educator. I think of it as a testament to who she was, always trying to help people and see the positivity in things. It's a nice way to honor her and allow her to continue to help people in keeping hospitals safer."

Mayer had planned to start his journey May 22 with a walk from Miller Park in Milwaukee to a Cubs game at Wrigley, but baseball's delay forced him to change plans.

 

After spending Sunday with his grandchildren in Deerfield, he'll head to Detroit and Cleveland to continue his walk.

At the end of August, he said he will return to Chicago and walk from Wrigley Field to Guarantee Rate Field.

After listening to colleagues during the coronavirus outbreak, he said he became particularly motivated to raise awareness.

"I had to do something," he said.

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