By Rebecca Foster-Goodman Anyone who has walked through the doors of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital has most likely gotten directions and a friendly smile from Maddie Dugan. Few, if any, can rival Dugan’s knowledge and expertise of the hospital campus. And few, if any, can rival her incredible commitment as a volunteer. Dugan has been welcoming people into the hospital for more than 50 years.
She started in 1965 as a 14-year-old candy-striper. Dressed in a red and white pinafore, Dugan pushed wheelchairs and delivered mail. After that, she worked in the coffee shop making milkshakes.
Maddie Dugan sits under the original Lake Forest Hospital sign that now hangs on the patio of her Lake Forest home. “When I went away to boarding school and then college, I would always come home and fill in where I could,” Dugan said. “I had so much fun.”
After going to school in Massachusetts and working in Washington, D.C. for the Republican National Committee during the Watergate scandal, she moved back to Lake Forest where her dedication to service continued. She was asked to join the Lake Forest Hospital Women’s Board in 1977. She has held many board positions at the hospital and for the City of Lake Forest, including president of the Allendale Shelter Club, Elawa Farm, the Lake Forest Caucus and the Building Review Board. For the past five years, she has also served on the board of the History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff.
Dugan grew up watching the women in her family dedicating their time and talents to the community. Both her mother and her grandmother volunteered at hospitals throughout their lives. Her mother was on the Lake Forest Hospital Women’s Board and served as its president. Her grandmother spent years traveling down to Chicago to volunteer at the gift shop at Rush Presbyterian Hospital. “Volunteering was what we saw around us. It was ingrained,” she said. “If you were lucky enough not to have to work, you needed to give back and volunteer.”
Dugan’s longevity as a community volunteer was recently honored, as she became the 10th recipient of the Lawrence R. Temple Distinguished Public Service Award. Temple was a Lake Forest alderman and community volunteer. After his death, the award was created in his name to honor a living volunteer in community or local government in the City of Lake Forest for distinguished public service. When asked how she feels about her years of service, she reflects quietly before responding. “I am proud of my longevity at the hospital. I’ve been a part of positive changes that the hospital has made. That is really satisfying.”
Dugan is a fourth-generation Lake Forest resident on both her mother and her father’s side. Great-granddaughter of A.B. Dick Sr., an extremely successful businessman at the turn of the 20th century, her family’s name is intertwined with so much of Lake Forest’s history. A.B. Dick Sr., originally from Westmoreland County, Pa., came to Lake Forest when much of the town was uninhabited and settled on the property that is now Lake Forest Hospital and Deerpath Golf Course. He gave the City of Lake Forest the property for the golf course. “He loved golf and wanted to give everyone in Lake Forest the opportunity to play, regardless of whether you belong to a country club or not,” Dugan explained.
As the City of Lake Forest continued to grow in the early-to-mid 1900s, there was a need for a larger hospital. The original hospital, called Alice Home, sat on the Lake Forest College property and was quickly becoming too small for the growing town. A.B. Dick, Jr., who was a member of the Lake Forest Hospital Association Board at the time, spoke to his mother about a land donation to build a new hospital on their Westmoreland property. She donated 60 acres to the hospital association. When she died in 1944, she bequeathed even more land to the hospital campus.
The original hospital on the Westmoreland campus was unique. It felt as if you were entering a home, with beautiful wood décor and a warm feel. But as the new millennium arrived, medicine and technology were advancing at an unprecedented rate. If Lake Forest Hospital was going to survive, a total upgrade was needed. In fact, a completely new facility was needed.
In 2018, Lake Forest Hospital became Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital, and a new era began. The new hospital was erected just yards away from the old hospital, and Dugan was right there volunteering her time and input when needed. “We were concerned that that we were going to lose the friendly, warm, compassionate feeling that LFH always had,” she said. “Although the architecture and décor are completely different, Northwestern has done the best they can to hold on to what made our hospital so special.” As Northwestern Medicine plans for the construction of an additional two wings and parking garage, Dugan is serving on the board that is helping to design the future additions.
“It is truly phenomenal that a community of our size has world-class medicine right here in our backyard,” she said.
Dugan remains an active member of several boards and committees for the hospital and the city. And she continues volunteering at the front desk of the hospital with a new title: Mask Ambassador. Much of Dugan’s afternoons consists of giving directions, reminding visitors to wear masks and sanitize their hands and pushing wheelchairs. She proudly boasts an average of 5,000-8,000 steps in one afternoon of volunteering. When asked if she’ll ever retire, she smiles. “Probably not. Even if I can’t walk, I will find something that doesn’t require me to walk. “I’m not a great athlete. I’m not out there playing golf or tennis or paddle. I like to be busy, so these opportunities seem like a natural fit to fill my days.”