Emergency Department bids farewell to beloved employee

When the lights were turned off in the former Northwestern Memorial Lake Forest Hospital Emergency Department, it was the end of an era. Emotions ran high as the official closing drew closer. Staff knew that they weren’t just saying goodbye to their space; they’d also be saying goodbye to a treasured colleague.

While the ED learns to adjust to their surroundings at the new hospital, they will also have to learn how to maneuver without their beloved ER coordinator of 39 years, Elaine Hagedorn. Elaine’s last day as a Northwestern Medicine employee was March 3, where she turned off the lights in the ED at 660 North Westmoreland for the last time. After that, her retirement officially began.

“Elaine is our ‘everything person’ to the physicians, nurses and staff here in the ED. She is our secretary, personal therapist, printing expert, and can get in touch with anyone within minutes. She is our go-to for pretty much everything here in the ED,” says Aaron Epstein, MD, FACEP, ED medical director, Lake Forest Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Grayslake Emergency Center. “She is always smiling, no matter how hectic and stressful it can get. We are so happy for her to begin her next chapter, but we are really going to miss her.”

Hagedorn feels fortunate to have worked with such wonderful people within the ED and at Lake Forest Hospital, and truly considered it her home away from home.

“I have had 14 managers in my 39 years here, and have had to figure out all of their personalities and the way they each work, but it has been a pleasure to work with all of them. I have such fond memories that I will hold onto forever, and am grateful to have had a job that I loved so much,” says Hagedorn.

When she retires, she plans on just enjoying what it feels like not to work, because she has been employed since she was 15 years old, and will then see where it takes her.

“When I started working here, there were six ER patient beds, and I watched this place change and grow — from the people, to the technology, to the staff. I loved every minute of it,” says Hagedorn.

When she informed her manager of her intent to retire, she put it in the form of a poem.

Oh happy day, it’s here at last

I have worked REAL hard and paid my dues

Now I am putting on my dancing shoes!

I’ll miss you all, so don’t shed any tears

It’s been a real hell of a ride for 39 years.

Love you always and signing off,


Learn more about the new Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital at nlfh.nm.org