As we begin the second decade of the 21st century, it is also a good time for us to reflect on where we are going by reminding ourselves where we have been.
The historical roots of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center date back to the 19th century when six Sisters from Germany—who would later form the foundation of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis—made their way to Peoria via Iowa and followed a calling to care for the sick. Their first “hospital” in 1876 was a far cry from the sprawling campus we now see, but the two-story rented house on South Adams Street served its purpose. The following summer, the Sisters purchased a home on the east bluff from Lydia Moss Bradley. The house on the hill was truly the foundation on which OSF Saint Francis Medical Center sits today.
If it seems as if there is always some building activity on our campus, you should have seen what it was like in the early part of the 20th century!
The oldest building still standing on our campus, Building A, opened in 1919. It is the building with the round turret that used to house the old emergency department. The College of Nursing along Greenleaf was dedicated in 1937. The eight-story Building B, which replaced the original hospital building, opened in 1942, and the Saint Clare addition began in 1944 as an extension to the B Building.
In 1948, plans were unveiled for the Forest Park building across the street from the hospital along Glen Oak Avenue, at a cost of about $1 million. It opened in 1950 as a convalescent home with a focus on young polio victims. Although operated by the Sisters, Forest Park was actually paid for by the Forest Park Foundation. An addition to the building opened in 1963. It now houses inpatient oncology services, radiation oncology, RapidArc Triology and the Gamma Knife.
Ground on the original Children’s Hospital building (CH) was broken in 1952. Building C—where administrative offices now sit—and Building D (where the cafeteria is located) started taking shape in 1964, although they weren’t completed entirely until 1968. These two buildings, along with modernization projects to other buildings, cost $7.5 million.
There was a bit of a slowdown in building projects in the 1970s. The Physicians Office Building, just west of Forest Park, was built in 1974, but it would be another decade before another major facility opened. The Gerlach building and Hillcrest Medical Center opened in 1986, greatly expanding the size of the campus and services offered at Saint Francis. Building and renovation costs totaled $47 million.
In July of last year, we opened the newest—and most ambitious—building project in our history. The $280 million Milestone Project, as it was known during construction, gave Children’s Hospital a place to truly call its own for the first time in more than 50 years.
Construction around our campus has long been a key to improving healthcare in the Peoria area and throughout the region. It has established our reputation as a place to grow unique tertiary services that rival any major medical center throughout the country. The OSF Saint Francis Medical Center downtown campus now covers more than 2.1 million square feet, not including the outpatient centers at Route 91, Glen Park and Morton.
As we honor the past, we also look to the future and how best to provide for our patients and their families. On the horizon is a new Simulation, Education and Conference Center initiated by a $25 million donation from the managing partner of Jump Trading in Chicago. The five- to seven-story building will be a state-of-the-art training and conference center that will support a variety of stakeholders, including the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, Children’s Hospital, Saint Francis College of Nursing, our physicians, residents, nurses and others. We hope to break ground by the middle of this year, with completion slated for early 2013, or perhaps sooner.
History has taught us that none of this would be possible—and would not have happened—without prayerful reflection by the Sisters. They take their time and make sure a project is in the right place, at the right time, to be what is best for our patients. If it isn’t, we wait.
It is amazing to look back on 134 years…where we have been and where we are going. Both are guided by the same principle because of the Sisters’ vision and desire to help every patient, every time.
History has a way of putting everything in perspective. iBi