With 4 clinics Westside was serving twice the number of families. What unfolded was a doubling in the word of mouth in the community. It was not long that the spatial needs again became a challenge. Orland Park, New Lenox, and Tinley Park were opened to support our Frankfort location. Schaumburg and Willowbrook were opened to help our Wheaton center. A Plainfield-Downtown and Shorewood location were opened to support our Joliet and Plainfield centers.
Amid this growth, Westside has upheld patient satisfaction: 98% of patients would refer to a family member or friend. Doctors have also continued to see the Westside difference. Today, the referral base includes 800+ pediatricians.
As we look to the future, Westside aims to raise the bar for what it means to provide a high quality pediatric therapy experience. Our mission is to follow the “pure practitioner” spirit of Shari. This means staying true to our earliest company learning: families care foremost about quality of care even if it is done on a farm. We exist today to obsessively serve that need.
2017: Making Westside Accessible
With a few decades under its belt, and with Shari leading our clinical teams, Westside’s services were highly sought after by parents and payors. Many forces pulled Westside into opening additional centers in new areas. Some of our families were commuting over an hour to current clinics; several payors located elsewhere in the state wanted us to be closer to their members; and our new Joliet and Frankfort facilities continued to swell beyond their capacity.
Westside decided to expand its service delivery model to meet these needs. The next new clinic that opened was our Wheaton facility in 2017. This clinic served our Dupage County families and their local insurance networks. In 2019, Plainfield was opened as a way to provide relief to the Joliet clinic, where therapists were literally doing treatment in the hallway due to lack of space.
2014: First Growth Spurt
With the additional service lines, and the expanding reputation of Westside, both the Joliet and Frankfort facilities hit their capacity limits. For the first time, Westside put on its construction hat and built 2 larger, custom designed centers in Frankfort and Joliet. These two clinic designs became the first blueprints for Westside’s future clinics. Both of the centers are still operating and continue to be upgraded to include our latest clinic design features. We often refer to these offices as our flagship offices. Walking into them, you will sense immediately what we mean when we talk about the Westside Way. There is a fun, welcoming vibe that emanates from a team of passion-led therapists. Shari wouldn’t have it any other way.
2008: ABA Services Added
Westside recognized a developing need. Many of the children being serviced for Physical, Occupational, or Speech Therapy had been diagnosed with autism. These children had additional needs extending beyond current service offerings.
At the same time, the Illinois Legislature passed the autism mandate. This law made autism services more available for families through their insurance. This change prompted Westside to become an early adopter of ABA Therapy. ABA was formally added as a service line in 2008.
1996: Moving Off the Farm
In 1996, Shari and her patients relocated to a medical office space in Frankfort. If you were to walk into this clinic, you’d get a sense of why we call Shari a “Pure Practitioner.”
It would be clear that clinical concerns were her number one priority. Shari didn’t spend too much time worrying about getting extra space she badly needed, buying enough computers to write notes on, or even paying her bills on time.
Achieving results with kids was her sole obsession. Judging by the overwhelming number of families that flocked to this center, getting the best results mattered to them, too. This results-driven focus on quality has become a cornerstone of our culture today. At Christmas parties, you may spot the ‘Shari’ shirts, a symbol of the quality standards that guide our mission.
At this point in time, the company was named “Children’s Therapy Specialists.” Realizing that the patient base had complex, multidisciplinary needs, Shari soon added Speech and Occupational therapy to the practice. It was not long before Shari’s tiny office could not even function without additional space. Operational needs begin being met as the company opened a second location in Joliet. It was about this time that the company formally changed its name to Westside Children’s Therapy.
1988: Westside Was Born on a Farm
Shari Cassidy is the founder of Westside Children’s Therapy. Shari grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago on a farm in Homer Glen. She started her career working as a physical therapist at Children’s Memorial Hospital (renamed in 2012 to Lurie Children’s Hospital). After several decades of honing her skills at one of the best pediatric medical institutions, Shari developed a loyal following of families that appreciated her unique expertise.
At this time, she was commuting from Homer Glen to Chicago. Many of her families were doing the same 1-hour drive. With enough experience under her belt, Shari decided to open her own private practice. Her loyal patients followed her.
The first clinic location was on her family’s farm in a separate building on the property. This became the seed for what would later evolve into Westside. It was also the young company’s first learning that patients care foremost about the quality of care they receive, even if it means driving to a farm in the south suburbs to get it.