Juan’s Emergency Department Story


Most people wouldn’t think of an emergency department as a second home, but for one special needs individual, that’s exactly what West Suburban Medical Center’s ED became, thanks to the amazing love and support of many West Sub ED nurses, technicians and doctors.

Without the proper support network during the pandemic to help their son Juan, a teenager with severe autism and developmental delays, one family relied on emergency rooms across the city to find help. As Juan bounced in and out of several EDs over the last few months, West Sub ED staff took the time to get to know Juan and take the steps needed to help find a solution.

“As Juan became a regular at West Suburban’s ER, our staff really wanted to help break the cycle of ER visits and find a permanent solution for him and his family,” stated Unit Secretary Adela Delgado, who became Juan’s “second mom” during his stay.

So when Juan once again landed in West Sub’s ED, our case management team stepped in to learn more about Juan’s history in order to begin the long process of finding a facility that could provide a safe and nurturing environment for his special needs.

As the investigation continued, West Sub’s ED quickly became a second home to Juan. The team of ED “Aunties and Uncles” cared for Juan like a family member. They donated their time, talents and treasures to keeping Juan safe and happy as case management searched for a secure place for Juan that would help him thrive. Juan’s second family bought him new clothes and shoes, fun toys, cooked him special meals and even cut his hair and did his laundry.

“It’s highly unusual for someone to spend a lengthy amount of time in an ER, let alone an autistic individual. Our amazing staff went way beyond, caring for him and providing for many needs, including buying clothes and toys, and making him food,” stated ED physician David Anthony, MD.

After finally connecting with Juan’s community case worker, Social Work Manager Ellen Walker, MSW, LCSW, ACSW, learned Juan could only be placed in a group home setting after an evaluation by the Chicago Public Schools system. With assistance from the Department of Human Services and the community agency, the contact at CPS was brought up to speed on Juan’s case. CPS also had been trying to place Juan, but because their offices were closed due to COVID, they had not been able to connect with the family to sign the paperwork. Ellen’s team stepped in once again, arranging for the meeting with CPS to occur at West Sub. With the paperwork and interview buttoned up, a transfer to Little City was successfully arranged.

“It is amazing what can happen when all resources work together for the best interest of a patient. Our team at West Sub, CPS, and other external resources worked together and advocated for Juan to obtain the services he needed, giving him the opportunity for a new future,” said Ellen.

With a new plan in place for Juan, the ED staff threw a rodeo-themed farewell party as a way to wish him well and celebrate the special boy that had become part of the West Sub family. The staff decorated an ED cubicle with streamers and posters of cowboys and horses – Juan’s favorite things – and even presented him with a cowboy hat, bandana, and cake decorated with rodeo cowboys and horses. Dr. Anthony treated everyone to a special lunch featuring Juan’s favorite foods.

Thank you to the amazing West Sub staff who helped Juan and his family in their time of need. Your kindness has made an incredible difference!


  • Juan’s “Second Mom” Adela Delgado, Unit Secretary
  • “Auntie” Beatriz Serrano, ED RN
  • “Auntie” Rhonda Washington, ED Tech
  • “Auntie” Sommer Acosta-Hernandez, ED Tech
  • “Auntie” Anais Kerr, ED RN
  • “Auntie” Katherine Miller, ED Tech
  • “Uncle” Anthony Castaldo, ED Tech
  • “Auntie” Melissa Lankford, Manager
  • “Uncle” Andrew Rayborn, ED RN
  • “Uncle” Mason Merida, ED RN
  • “Uncle” Danny Morales, Paramedic for Chicago Fire Department