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Adventst GlenOaks Hospital honors long time emergency department head
Glendale Heights – To honor his more than 30 years of service, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital will host an open house March 21 to celebrate Dr. Joseph Shanahan’s career.

The open house runs from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, March 21 at the Hilton Chicago/Indian Lakes Resort, 250 W. Schick Road, Bloomingdale. The event is open to the public and no RSVP is required.

Guests are welcome to attend in their favorite Dr. Shanahan-inspired attire, said Erin Gerber, administrative director of marking and service line development.

“We’re anticipating a lot of green and more than a few pairs of loud golf pants,” said Gerber.

That is because Shanahan, a marcher in Chicago’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade with the Irish Fellowship, is not shy about showing off his Irish heritage. On St. Patrick’s Day, Shanahan has been known to come to the hospital dressed as a leprechaun.

“For the past 25 years, I have been in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade right behind the mayor and all the dignitaries,” Shanahan said. “I always wear one of my leprechaun costumes. I have an Irish wolfhound and a German short hair pointer, and I dye them green and they march in the parade with me.”

A Burr Ridge resident, Shanahan headed the Adventist GlenOaks Hospital emergency department since its opening more than 30 years ago. During his tenure, Shanahan became the first emergency medicine physician in the country to become president of his hospital’s medical staff and was the first emergency physician to be on his hospital’s board of directors, he said.

His depth of experience in dealing with emergency room patients helped him develop the new emergency department at Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, which opened in 2007. As part of the development of that unit, Shanahan toured more than 20 emergency departments nationwide, finding the best ideas to incorporate into the new space.

“It feels peaceful, tranquil. It’s beautiful,” Shanahan said. “The nice thing about it is, it’s completely functional. It really works well. That has been just a wonderful thing to see come to fruition.”

When Shanahan entered health care, there was no residency in emergency medicine. Though he took a family practice residency, he knew emergency medicine was the field he wanted.

“You never know what’s going to come in,” Shanahan said. “If 10 people come in at the same time, you have to deal with 10 things at the same time. Some people like that kind of stress, some people hate it. I happen to be one that found the work fulfilling.”

Shanahan has moved on to a new role at the hospital, becoming its executive administrative liaison, a role he’s filled since January. Shanahan was appointed to the role because of his dedication to both the community and the hospital, said Bruce C. Christian, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital chief executive officer.

“Dr. Shanahan is very active in the community and has saved countless lives over the years,” Christian said. “He has provided emergency medical care for generations of local families. His legacy is unmatched and it will endure.”

Having deep connections with local government, business and emergency services department leaders in the area, Shanahan believes he’s well suited for the work.

“It’s been such a natural fit and progression,” Shanahan said of the new position. “I couldn’t be more pleased. I’ve made numerous community contacts throughout the years, so now I can meet with area leaders to discuss the community’s health and medical needs.”

Addison Fire Chief Don Markowski has known Shanahan since Adventist GlenOaks Hospital opened. At that time, Markowski was with the Glenside Fire Protection District.

“A few words come to mind when I think about Dr. Shanahan: professional, caring, character and fun,” Markowski said. “He’s every bit of those. He’s just a real delight to be around at any time.”

He is knowledgeable as well. Markowski said that Shanahan has always supported local area paramedics, explaining what is happening with patients and letting them see advanced care procedures.

“It helps broaden their knowledge base so, in the future, if they come across a call again, they’re more experienced about what to look for and how to treat patients,” Markowski said.

Shanahan’s continued connection with the hospital is important, Markowski said. The paramedics trust him and know they can come to him if they have questions or need help.

And Markowski knows he can do the same.

“Dr. Shanahan will be there for us to make sure we’re doing the best we can for the patients, which is ultimately what we’re all here for,” he said.


Adventist Midwest Health includes Adventist Bolingbrook Hospital, Adventist GlenOaks Hospital, Adventist Hinsdale Hospital and Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital. To find a physician, visit

Physicians on the medical staff of Adventist Midwest Health Hospitals are independent contractors, and are not agents of the hospitals.

Media contact: Chris LaFortune, public relations specialist, Adventist Midwest Health,; (630) 856-2354