Hematoma at the Henrotin


The 18th District station, also known as the East Chicago Avenue District, was located at 113 WEST Chicago Avenue. Go figure. The Henrotin Hospital was located about two blocks north at LaSalle and Oak in the 18th District.

We called Henrotin “Cook County North.” It was much smaller than Cook County Hospital of course, but their Emergency Room was no less intense that that of County’s. It was the medical portal for bloody noses from Rush Street, chronic drunks from Clark Street, strung out Hippies from Old Town and the shooting and stabbings from the Cabrini Housing Projects to the west. In short, if you had a serious medical emergency and needed an experienced team, the Henrotin ER was a good place to go.

The staff was police friendly and they even maintained a “police room” with a telephone and 24 hour pot of hot coffee.

Dr. Whitney—all names altered here to protect the innocent—was a fixture, an excellent physician with a pragmatic approach toward providing emergency medical treatment. He knew many of the patrol officers by name.

I was in the police room one night when I heard Doc Whitney call from the ER, “Any police out there?”

“Whatdya need Doc?” I responded standing at the foot of a gurney in a curtained cubicle.

He and a diminutive nurse were struggling with a Clark Street drunk sporting a deep laceration over his left eye. Drunkie didn’t want to be stitched, but it was a catch-22; the lockup wouldn’t take him until he was treated and Whitney figured that adhesive tape would only find him returning to the ER later in the night. Whitney looked up at me.

“Padar! Put on a pair of gloves and hold this guy’s head.” The nurse gratefully stepped aside as I opened a pair of surgical gloves. Drunkie had been restrained, arms and legs, but there was no way to keep him from twisting his head back and forth. I looked at the unkempt man and concluded that the gloves were more for my protection than his.

“Hold his head while I try to get a couple of stitches in his noggin.”

Whitney and I worked shoulder to shoulder, struggling with the drunk until he finally surrendered or passed out, I don’t know which. I held some of the sutures while Whitney secured the knots. It took us about five minutes to complete the task. As I stripped off the gloves and stepped over to the waste receptacle, the Doc called out to nobody in particular.

“Who’s charting this?”

“I am,” responded the little nurse.

“Padar assisted, knock off ten bucks,” said Whitney with a sparkle in his eye.

“Thanks a lot Doc,” I said with mock indignation.


The following night I was back at Henrotin assigned to a robbery victim from Old Town. He was being treated for some unknown injury and while I waited, I copied his vital information from the chart for my case report. Daniel Henderson, age 17…

“Who’s got the report on this Henderson kid?” called Whitney from a curtained cubicle.

“I do,” I called out.

“Get in here,” said Whitney.

Visions of the previous night flashed before my eyes. I pushed into the cubicle to see a frightened young man on the gurney, covered from the waist down with a white sheet and looking to be about the age reported on his chart.

“Pull that curtain behind you,” said Whitney as he pulled the sheet off the boy, revealing a scrotum the size of a softball.

It was of those things that police officer’s see that make them involuntarily cringe.

“I don’t know what you want Doc, but I ain’t touching that thing,” I said.

It was the boy’s turn to react with embarrassment. He pulled the sheet up quickly to cover himself as Whitney laughed.

“No, no, no—it’s nothing like that. I just wanted you to see what we’re dealing with here. He was kneed in the groin. It’s a hematoma caused by a broken blood vessel that’s draining into the scrotum. If I drain it, it’ll just bleed more. Best to just leave it and send him home. It’s already stopped bleeding and it’ll reabsorb in about four of five days.”

“So?” I asked, wondering why I was even in the room.

“So,” said Whitney patiently, “He’s a robbery victim with no wallet and no ID and no money and he has to get home and he’s got this…” nodding toward the sheet, “…and he lives in Oak Park. Is that right?” he said turning to the boy.

The boy’s eyes had been darting from the doc to me. He nodded his head silently.

“You’ll see to that?” said Whitney as more of a statement than a question. I nodded my head.

He could walk with minor discomfort, but obviously could not zip up his blue jeans. Whitney helped get him arranged, perhaps the very first documented incident of letting “it all hang out.” By not tucking in his shirt, he was able to present a rather benign image of modesty. I of course knew what was under the shirt and felt a mixture of sharing his discomfort and the competing urge to laugh.

Out in the squad I called my sergeant and asked permission to drive a victim to his home in Oak Park. Permission denied no cars available. Not wanting to get into a prolonged dialogue on the air, I asked the sergeant to meet me in the station. Negative he replied, telling me to take it up with the desk sergeant.

Danny Henderson hobbled into the lobby of the 18th District with me. It was a madhouse.

“Do you want to sit down?” I asked him.

“No, it’s worse when I sit… it kinda shows.” He pulled the front of his shirt down as far as he could and leaned against the wall across from the desk.

I explained the situation to the desk sergeant and he looked across kind of curiously at the kid.

“Trust me, sarge, you don’t want to see this,” I said. The sergeant grimaced.

“See who’s at home and have them send someone to get him,” said the desk sergeant. Somehow I knew he was not going to overrule the street sergeant.

“Danny. Is someone at home?” I asked.

“Yeah, my ma.”

“Does she drive?”


“Does she have money for a cab?”

“Of course.” He looked at me as if I had asked a silly question.

At the desk, I handed him the phone. He dialed, waited a moment and then panicked.

“I can’t tell my mom!” he almost screamed and promptly handed the phone back to me.

Now I had a doubly difficult time choking on my macabre sense of humor while explaining Daniel’s predicament in discreet terms—not street terms—to a very genteel sounding woman in Oak Park. After listening carefully, mom opted to take a cab from Oak Park and pick her son up personally.

Alas, it’s another story without an end because it was indeed a busy night and I had to go back out on the street. The next time I came by the station, bulbous boy was gone.

The following night, as every night, there was another assignment at the Henrotin. Conversation with Doc Whitney turned briefly to Danny and he assured me he would make a complete recovery.

“But it’s probably not a story he’ll tell his kids,” smiled Whitney.

“His kids?” I looked quizzically at him.

“I’m just tellin’ ya, he’s gonna to be alright!” said the doc.

Showing 19 comments

  • Kathleen

    People have no clue what we deal with on a day to day basis. I bet if you went to every copper in the city, we could each tell a story that had not been told before! Lol

    • Dan

      Your right ..Kathleen….I didn’t work in18 but know guys that did,we had a “Dr.Whitney” at the Northwest Hosp. at Addison and Central who would be in the same catagory as Dr. W…many a story emerged from that hospital the same as the “Henrotin”.It’s a different police department today than when I was still active…but the same thing happens just as it was then day after day now,just a different time!!

      • jimpadar

        Yes Dan, the same thing happens, just a different cast of characters. Same makeup, different clowns. I am glad that you were able to read the story and say to yourself, “Been there, done that!” It’s these universal experiences that makes the job, THE JOB.

    • jimpadar

      Right on, Kathleen. None of my stories here are earthshaking, nor are they meant to be. Just anecdotes about one of the best jobs in the world. Each day when you hit the street you never knew what the tour would hold in store. Every copper out there is a source of untold tales.

  • Kent

    Early one Monday morning in October, about 0330, we stopped into the Henrotin ER. No patients were there nor nurses or doctors. The brightly glaring florescent ceiling lights were all off and it was so quiet that you could hear a pin drop. Then the unmistakable “SWOOSH” of the electric ER entry doors washed through the empty room. Two men came in, one an older grey-haired gentleman, the other a late thirty something guy with a pasty white face. We greeted these two men when they came in and said the nurse would be right there and chit chatted with them a little until the nurse arrived. The triage nurse took one look at the younger guy who was complaining of chest pains and instead of the routine of filling out insurance forms, she took him immediately to an ER bed and began checking his vital signs. The ER slowly began to come to life… lights came on, personnel began arriving, and suddenly we heard a nurse yell out “CODE BLUE, CODE BLUE!” The sleepy room burst into a flurry of activity. The ER team began to mesh into one big human machine, tubes being inserted, IV’s being administered, CPR applications followed by cardio shock paddles and medical directions being given out firmly by the doctor.

    I had never seen such a persistent struggle to save a life as I did that day. After nearly an hour of CPR and continual efforts to revive him, the man was declared dead. The deceased man’s older friend was really only an acquaintance he’d met that day at a convention, but he knew the dead man was married with two young children and was from Arizona. I knew that if you could have a heart attack right inside the Henrotin ER and they couldn’t save you, no one could, and you were being called home. Surely this is just one small story with very few witnesses from this amazing hospital.

    I loved the Henrotin ER! No other hospital I ever went into was as good to the coppers as Henrotin. Hell, at least half a dozen coppers I know of ended up marrying women from there.
    When they closed Henrotin, it was a sad day. I never saw another place like it.

    • jimpadar

      A great story Kent! Thanks for sharing. As police officers we were privileged to witness a microcosm of life (and sometimes death) each tour of duty. A kaleidoscope where the pattern changed each day we came to work. If you were able to keep your head on straight, it was the best job in the world. Thanks again for your story… you are a great writer.

  • Rich

    Doc “Whitney” was the best. He cracked open Eddie Shipleys chest,massaged his heart and brought him back to life after being shot. If you were hurt bad working in 018 you wanted to go to the Henrotin.

    • jimpadar

      Thanks for you comment, Rich. A lot of good Henrotin stories out there.

  • Pat Cronin

    Oh, Man. Can’t believe I never saw this one. This will stay with me for awhile…

    • jimpadar

      Do I have a writing career AP? (After Pat). Maybe, but it won’t be easy. 🙂

  • Pat Cronin

    You had a writing career BP. I was just happy to help along the process…

  • John

    Jim, we had Englewood Hospital on the south side in 007. A E/R Doc of Indian would let you try your hand at stitching if they were busy. Many coppers in 007 threw a stitch or two in that E/R, long ago demolished.

    We also had Central Community (old Cent. Receiving) at 57th-Wood. They had the greatest cafateria , $1.50 for the coppers. Sitting there one night I see a nurse walking by. Thought I recognized her, one of my academy classmates, who was a RN, working on her RDO.

    • jimpadar

      Hi John, Thanks for you comments. Great stories out there from all over the city! I love it.

  • Linda Carson Gorkis

    The story and comments brought back so many memories. I worked nights, days and PM’s as a RN in the Henrotin ER from 1969 until it closed; yes I was there when we cracked Ed Shipley’s chest. And you are so right…there was such a bond between nurses, docs, coppers and firemen and we would do anything to make sure one of our own was taken care of. These stories all these many years later are just an example of how that bond still exists today no matter where we are.

    No, I didn’t marry a copper, but I did marry a fireman working the old Cadillac ambulances before we had paramedics. We met when he and his partner brought in a man run over by one of the Continental Transport buses that picked up passengers from the downtown hotels and took them to O’Hare. It was my first day on the job. I’m still happily married to him and living in AZ.

    • jimpadar

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts and comments, Linda. The medical/police/fire fraternity is indeed deeply rooted and has survived the test of time. No doubt it is because on a daily basis we shared both victory and defeat in the game of life. Many cases were just short scrimmages, Shipley, Severin and Rizzato (among others) were Superbowls. We won some and we lost some, but that’s what brought us all closer.

      I worked 018 until January 1970 when I moved to Maxwell Street Homicide, so I’m sure our paths crossed many times. It is so good to hear from you and the others and the Henrotin anecdotes.

    • Terry Gratton

      Hi Jim,
      I am one of those nurses from the Henrotin that married a copper over 45 years ago. I have been a nurse for almost 50 years and working at the Henrotin was the highlight of my career. I can remember having two gunshots and a stabing all at the same time in the old emergency that was off the alley on Oak Street. What would we have done with all those wonderful men in blue who came to our rescue when we would pick up the phone to call in a 10-1. Fights were breaking out in our waiting room and chairs were flying. Many of those officers applied “pressure” to ruptured arteries while we were starting treatment, calling in surgeons, and keeping the restless at bay. Many times I heard you guys say “If i ever ever got shot take me to the Henrotin”. We also had our regulars from Clark Street and some of the girls like Starry and Tina. I was working the nite that Officer Larry T. got kidnapped. One nite a traffic cop (white hat) sprayed mace in our emergency room. There are lots of war stories out there. I also remember you and what a fine gentleman you were. Keep on writing. You are doing a wonderful service for all us. Howie and I live in North Carolina. We talk about the old days with fond memories. Kindest Regards, Terry Gratton RN
      PS was there that nite also when the guy came in from the bus accident.

      • jimpadar

        Oh my, Terry! I remember you and Howie. Say hello to him for me.

        Thanks for your great memories of what we called Cook County North. We were “family” in ways that boggle the mind. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story of a “regular.” I change all the names in my stories because I do not want to hurt or embarrass anyone inadvertently, but I am sure you will recognize who it is! Maybe you were even there the night it happened!

        Thanks so much for writing. I am having fun doing the blog and it means a lot to me to hear from folks like you who also “remember when.”

        My very best to you and Howie…

        P.S. I also married a nurse—the best thing that ever happened to me!

        • carol nelson dowd mauro

          I also worked in the E.R. at Henrotin…for 18 years from late 1968 until the hospital closed in late 1986. It truly was the highlight of my nursing career also. We all have so many stories…I am still in touch with several nurses who worked there as well as guys from 018 (my husband of 28 years). I often wished I had kept a diary and written something everyday….no one would have ever believed it. It certainly was an experience that could never be replicated.

          Hi to Terry and Howie. Are Judy and Ken Watmough still in your area?

          • jimpadar

            Thanks for your comments Carol. The Henrotin stories seem to have rekindled some good old fashioned nostalgia.

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