This story was published in the Chicago Tribune and is available here.
When Dan Cusack, 65, looks out his dining room window, all he sees is the towering red brick facade of Elmhurst Hospital.
He moved with his wife to the neighborhood in 1987. Back then, hundreds of houses spread across half-acre lots. The neighborhood backed up to the Celozzi-Ettleson Chevrolet dealership along the frontage road (now East Brush Hill Road). It was typical suburbia.
Then the hospital came.
Many residents, accepting the realities of living beside a major hospital, don’t mind the constant light shining through their windows or the occasional strangers skirting the edges of their yard, moving to and from patients’ bedsides.
Others are less satisfied.
“The feel of a neighborhood, with neighbors and homes and kids running up and down the street — that disappeared,” said Field. “In its place, you get a lot of strangers coming into the area.”
The strangest side effect of living in the hospital’s shadow must be the encounters with patients who have fled the hospital without being discharged.
Both Cusack and Field tell stories of men and women in hospital gowns, sometimes with catheters still in their arms, wandering around their properties.
Two patients have crossed into Cusack’s yard. He is aware of at least three other cases since the hospital opened.
“Last fall, this guy just comes racing across our front yard,” he said. “He went into the guy’s yard next to us, followed by hospital security guards and personnel chasing him.”
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