North Center block shaken by neighbor's heat-related death

July 17, 2012

Jewell Washington

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As Chicago experienced another day of near-record breaking temperatures, Cook County confirmed there have been at least 23 heat-related deaths this summer.

One of them, Pat Wong, 91, of the 4200 block of North Winchester Street, died about a week ago.  An autopsy confirmed that extreme heat contributed to her death.

Neighbors said Wong lived with her two grown sons and was very private. No one responded to knocks on the door for comment. One of her neighbors, James Contreras, said Wong was a Cubs fan, loved gardening, and was devoted to her family.

“We would see her shopping with her sons at the local [Jewel-Osco] food store,” he said.

Another neighbor, Claire Meidroth recalled how shocked some neighbors were to hear the news.

“After everything happened the whole block found out,” she said, “people started pointing fingers and kind of blaming her direct neighbors about not checking on her - not making sure she was okay”.

Both neighbors said Wong’s death is a wake-up call for the block.

“It really doesn’t take a lot to just kind of go next door, knock on the door and just make sure that everybody’s okay,” Meidroth said.

“It’s a constant reminder… it wakes us up to the need of ….checking out for your neighbors,” Contreras added. “We can make a difference.”

City officials urge residents to call 311 if they want someone from the city to check up on their neighbor in the heat.