Working at the Edgewater Hospital, A Remembrance


My Experiences at the Edge: Working at the Edgewater Medical Center in the 1980s and 1990s

by Brian Paul Kaess

I began working at Edgewater Medical Center about the Summer of 1984 right after my Junior Year at Lane Tech high school. My friend Robert Gillis had recommended me as a pageboy to his boss Mr. Dion and I took up the challenge of a new job with great aplomb. After I was hired, I in turn hired many friends of mine (Chris Aguda, Rafael Cabañin, Pat Flanagan and so on) and also my brother Garret Thomas Kaess. Being a pageboy at Edgewater was like being a bellhop in a hotel- you were always suppossed to be polite to the patients you were transporting. Other Pageboys included Sergio, Henry Castro, Rex and so on. Chris Kauffmann worked as a Transporter Supervisor. Edgewater was a home to a lot of diversity during this time period, with many Fillipino and Irish nurses, White and Spanish secretaries, Jewish doctors, and a sprinkling of Blacks. Everybody seemed to fit in. Dr. Maynulet was on staff and was also my next door neighbor. He helped assist paramedics when my step grandfather Norman Allen Langley became mortally ill in 1980 and was sent to Edgewater Hospital ICU. Also at Edgewater at that time was Anna Mikan, a volunteer ‘candy striper.’ She was a girl I hung out with and almost dated in high school. I worked at Edgewater from Summer 1984 until July 1985, when I left for the Army. Edgewater also happened to be the hospital where I was born in 1967.

Years later, in 1992, I sought employment at Edgewater Medical Center after college graduation. I found it as an Emergency Room Registration Clerk. This is where I learned about Edgewater’s nickname with the Chicago Fire Dept., ‘the Edge’. They had just built a state of the art Emergency Dept., and I was going to get a chance to work there. I distinctly remember the EMC logo they had on the paperwork. The ER at Edgewater wasn’t like ER you see on TV- we were a lot slower, but had our moments. Also, we had much fewer Gun Shot victims than Cook County Hospital. We had a lot of heart attacks, drug overdoses, car accident victims, and battery victims. CFD 13 (an ambulance crew) was like clockwork rolling in at 5 AM every so often with a heart patient. We had a tremendous patient load of heat casualties during the Summer Heat Wave of 1995. The busiest time for the graveyard shift was usually right when you came on at 11PM. I became friends of sorts with the doctors, nurses and staff there. I remember Jackie Duffy, Terri Yak, Marcy, Nancy, Julie, Brock, Ben McConnell, Steve Hammer, Liz, Renee (all solid nurses) & Barb (a Polish Nurse). The doctors I remember were Dr. Charles Thomas (very popular), Dr. Steven Press, Dr. Gregory Sneep, Dr. Park, and so on. Dr. Goldberg would call trying to schedule surgeries. I also remember fellow clerks such as Lisa, Erlin, Diane, & Kathy.There was also admitting clerks such as Carmen, Ann Mitchell, Cindy Kraja, and Alice. Unit Secretaries included Vicki Valencia, & Nancy, A nursing assistant I dated was named Melissa. A Nurse I liked on 4 West was Kathy. Security Guards included Mason, Schroeder, Andrew, Banks, Bud Hansel, a black gal nick-named Shaboo, and Elena, a Puerto Rican gal. Chilo (a Guatemalan refugee) and Larry (a former inmate) worked in housekeeping. Mr. Nieman was the Personnel Manager and his assistant was Jimmy. You never wanted to cross Mr. Nieman. I saw Mrs. Mazel walking the halls in the 1980’s, a nice rich, old lady. One charácter who was a fixture in the ER was Vincent Panfilio, an Italian American who was the Building Engineer. He made sure the boilers wre running fine. He made everyone laugh and dazzled people with his travel tales. Everyone loved Vince for being a clown.

After about a year of working as a clerk, I moved into the Kadin Building that was designed for hospital employees. I had a nice view of the neighborhood from my 7th floor window. It was also a nice pad to go club hopping from, order food, or wine and dine my girlfriend Azra Bojic (later Mandzuka). My boss the 2nd time around was Pat Aguda,a relative of my friend Chris Aguda. Her daughter Stacy Aguda worked in the Collections Dept.; Rafael Cabañin’s Dad (from Cuba) worked in the kitchen and was known for his cooking savvy. I was happy to work the night shift as a clerk in the ER. It gave me a chance to write papers for Grad School and to take care of business during the day. One night in particular I remember was when we (the employees) held a buffet party in the Solarium during New Year’s Eve. I felt the layout and architecture of EMC was very interesting. It was like the Edgwater Beach Hotel! It had a number of buildings, old and new, that were interconnected via underground hallways. It had a Heli-pad where we sometimes would receive or send Lifestar flights from/to Loyola Medical Center in Maywood, Illinois. The building was a little bit of a labyrinth. One bit of film trivia about Edgewater is that it is where they filmed a scene in Back Draft (1991), the film.

I worked at Edgewater until 1996. I liked Edgwater alot- it always felt like home and the people were very easy to deal with. It drew alot of neighborhood families there for employment. I was sad to hear Edgewater was closed and partially torn down. It was always a nice place to go if you needed medical help or a little solace.