Our History

Our History
St. Francis Hospital & Health Center reaches a major milestone in 2005 as it commemorates 100 years of providing exceptional health care services to residents of the south suburbs. St. Francis Hospital officially opened its doors March 25, 1905, in a three-story, 30-bed mansion on Gregory Street.

Following is a brief history of our first 100 years and a tribute to the indomitable spirit of our founding sisters who not only helped meet an immediate need for health care in Blue Island � they created a nationally recognized, award-winning hospital dedicated to mission and quality.

The Early Years

At the turn of the century, Blue Island was a thriving town of German immigrants. Factories and businesses were its booming industries, and the town was centrally located for the Chicago Rock Island passenger train service and the Cal-Sag channel. There was even a trolley line that ran from Blue Island to Chicago. But there was something missing – convenient health care for the residents of Blue Island and its surrounding communities.

Local doctors had to look to Chicago to hospitalize their patients. Emergency care was almost unheard of. By the time a patient reached the hospital, it was usually too late. Babies were born at home. Patients with contagious diseases had to be quarantined and cared for by their family.

An answer to Blue Island’s needs stepped off the train from St. Louis, MO, in September 1904 – the Sisters of St. Mary. Encouraged by a group of doctors, residents and a parish priest from St. Benedict’s Catholic Church, the sisters established a hospital in a three-story mansion on Gregory Street that became St. Francis Hospital & Health Center.

Larger Hospital Needed

Shortly after it opened, plans began to construct a larger hospital, and on May 30, 1916, the new St. Francis Hospital was dedicated with bed capacity at 85 and 15 bassinettes. In 1947, a four-story convent opened to house the sisters who had dedicated themselves to their patients and to the entire Blue Island community.

Just a few years later, with an ever increasing demand for hospital care, St. Francis opened a new wing in 1950 � a four-story brick and stone structure, which brought total patient accommodations up to 145 beds and 30 bassinets.

In 1965, with the cooperation of the City of Blue Island, ground was broken for a new and larger hospital with total capacity of more than 400 patients. The new St. Francis was dedicated Dec. 16, 1967. In the early 1980s, a $24-million building and renovation project provided more parking, a new emergency room and modernization of all facilities.

Major Progress Made

The first open heart surgery � a relatively new procedure at the time � and cardiac catheterization procedures were performed at St. Francis in 1971. The hospital introduced Same Day Surgery and St. Francis Home Health in 1985, and opened a Sleep Disorders Center in 1988.

21st Century Health Care

In October 2003, St. Francis Hospital opened its new, state-of-the-art $34 million expansion. The expansion and renovation consists of a world-class heart center (named after cardiology pioneer Luke R. Pascale, M.D.); comprehensive imaging and diagnostic services; outpatient surgery services; a women�s wellness center; endoscopy unit; and an expanded emergency department with all private treatment areas.

Milestones in Our History:

1905
$30,000 was paid for the Uhlich home (Gregory and High streets in Blue Island) that would become the cornerstone of St. Francis Hospital. The new hospital accommodates 10 to 12 patients.

1910
The first operating room is constructed. The hospital accommodates 25 to 30 patients.

1916
The new St. Francis Hospital is dedicted to St. Francis of Assisi.

1921
St. Francis’ medical staff organizes to govern and assure quality care, and St. Francis receives full approval from the American College of Surgeons.

1934
The first triplets are born at St. Francis Hospital.

1939
The St. Francis Ladies’ Auxiliary is organized.

1947
A four-story convent is completed and the first blood bank is opened.

1953
Faced with an increased demand for hospital accommodations, St. Francis remodels former offices into patient units. The hospital now has 160 beds.

1954
St. Francis receives full accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

1967
A $24-million building and renovation program promises a solid future for St. Francis with increased parking, a new emergency room and modernization of all facilities.

1971
St. Francis attracts a team of cardiac specialists in the relatively new procedure of open heart surgery. The first open heart surgery and cardiac catheterization procedures are performed at this time.

1985
The hospital officially changes its identity to St. Francis Hospital & Health Center. Same Day Surgery and St. Francis Home Health are introduced.

1988
Sleep Disorders Center premiers at St. Francis.

1989
The Midwest’s only Cardiothoracic Unit (CTU) opens at St. Francis.

1991
Laparoscopic surgery first introduced.

1996
St. Francis celebrates 25 years of open-heart surgery.

2001
St. Francis becomes first in the area to introduce drug-eluting stents.

2002
SSM Health Care named first healthcare winner of Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award.

2003
$34 million expansion and renovation opens.

2004
A new $5 million, state-of-the-art Emergency Department opens.

2005
St. Francis Hospital & Health Center celebrates its centennial year.

St. Francis Hospital is named a 100 Top 100 Cardiovascular Hospital in the nation by Evanston-based Solucient for the sixth time. St. Francis is the only hospital in Illinois to receive this recognition six times.

2006
St. Francis celebrates 35 years of open-heart surgery.