Problem Solver: Good Samaritan receives outpouring of support

Financial help, job offer follow effort to save woman from attack

It's been more than two years since Joaquin Santana was stabbed while trying to protect a friend from an attacker.

He still has nightmares about that night, still questions if he could have done more.

Recovery has been slow, but things are looking much brighter thanks in part to What's Your Problem? readers.

Many wrote in to say they were moved by Santana's story, which was featured in the Aug. 13 column.

An ex-felon and former gang member who has worked to get his life in order, Santana rushed to the aid of his friend, Henryka Waskowski, as her son attacked her June 5, 2011, outside her tavern on the Northwest Side.

Santana intervened and chased the man away, but Waskowski, 67, died of her wounds.

Santana suffered a stab wound to his shoulder. He was treated at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where he amassed a $12,842 hospital bill.

Because of his past, Santana has found it difficult to get full-time work. At the time of the stabbing, he was unemployed and had no health insurance.

The hospital lopped $3,210.50 off his bill, and the Illinois Crime Victim Compensation Program paid $1,635.

That left about $8,000 in hospital charges that Santana couldn't afford.

After the Problem Solver inquired about his case, the Illinois attorney general's office worked with the hospital to make sure Santana got all the charitable funding he was entitled to.

Santana completed an application for charity care from Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, and the hospital agreed to erase all remaining charges.

Santana was ecstatic, but the good news did not end there.

One reader sent the Problem Solver $40, with a note asking to have the money forwarded to Santana.

Another sent a $25 check.

"Mr. Santana deserves some small help such as the enclosed," the attached note said. "He needs to know others care about him. Could you please tell him NO thank you is necessary."

Santana was moved.

"Tell (the donors) I said thank you for the help and I'm sure God will bless you for your compassion and generosity," he said.

Santana said that after the column was published, he ran into several people who saw the article.

"They were shaking my hand and saying nice things," he said. "That was kind of surprising."

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