The Most Reverend Aloysius J. Wycislo, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago at the ground breaking on December 14, 1963.
The land being prepared for construction (1963)
Dedication of St. Alexius Hospital on
June 12, 1966.
St. Alexius Hospital (1966)
Brothers Wendelin Blong, Mark Neaf, and Florian Eberle in the main lobby (1971)
Brothers Residence (1977)
Alexian Brothers Medical Center (1975)
Statue of the Immaculate Conception in the garden of the Brothers Residence (1984)
Alexian Brothers Medical Center (1994)
Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital (2004)
Alexian Brothers Medical Center (2002)
New bed tower under construction
Alexian Brothers Medical Center (2009)
In 1959, the Alexian Brothers formed a committee to determine the future of their Chicago hospital. After considerable study, the then Superior General, Brother Melchior Wimmer, directed that a site be found on which to build a new hospital. Several sites were considered. It was decided that the suburban area northwest of Chicago had a tremendous potential need. Studies of the State Bureau of Hospitals and the Hospital Planning Council for Metropolitan Chicago confirmed this conclusion.
With the help of Father J. Ward Morrison, and the Centex Company, community developers, an ideal location was found in Elk Grove Village. With 30 acres, five of which were donated by Centex, the institution had room to grow as the area was developed. Brother Gregory Isenhart was the project's first director and the hospital's first administrator.
The phase of planning, working out cost and financing, settling materials, equipment and functions came next. The Federal government, recognizing the growth potential of the area, allocated $9000,000 for the hospital through the Hill-Burton Act. In December of 1962 a campaign office was opened in a model home on Higgins Road in Elk Grove Village. The office was later moved to a farmhouse located on the hospital site. The Men's Foundation of the Alexian Brothers Hospital in Chicago came forward with the price of the remaining 25 acres, individual benefactors gave generously, and many people donated time and funds. To an institution without endowments, every penny and every hour donated had added value.
The groundbreaking was held on December 14, 1963 and was blessed by the Most Reverend Aloysius J. Wycislo, D.D., Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago. In spite of the severe cold weather, a crowd of about 200 people were present, including residents of the area, the Clergy, representatives of the various municipalities to be served by the hospital, and other friends and benefactors of the Brothers.
The new hospital was originally named "Alexian Brothers Hospital," but because the Chicago hospital was still in operation under the same name, there was much confusion in the delivery of supplies, materials, and in other important matters. In January of 1966 the name of the Elk Grove Village hospital was changed to "St. Alexius Hospital."
Although only the first three floors were completed, the Alexian Brothers were anxious to show the new hospital to the community. On May 14, 1966, the doors were flung open to their friends, who streamed in by the thousands. Groups departed every five minutes from the lobby for a one and one half-hour tour. Auxiliary volunteers and employees acted as guides who escorted the groups from one point to the next where an expert was waiting to explain that department. At the end of the tour were refreshments, and every little child, and some of the young at heart, went home with a helium filled balloon and a lighter step.
St. Alexius Hospital was originally built as a seven-story, $8,000,000, 224 bed hospital. Its unique design was often referred to as the "open fan" base and the "bow tie" design, incorporating all the useful features of the circular plan with those of the horizontal radial construction.
On June 12, l966, St. Alexius Hospital was formally dedicated. Bishop Cletus O'Donnell blessed the hospital and the chapel and then gave the dedication address. The hospital formally opened on June 20th with 144 beds in service.
The Psychiatric Unit which had been housed in a wing of the 5th floor since January of 1969 moved, in March of 1971, to the Annex. Formerly a new but never occupied nursing home across the street from the hospital, it was a 200 bed facility. The modern two-story, 59,000 square foot building also included space for a center for rehabilitation medicine which opened in 1972.
On June 27, 1971, St. Alexius Hospital celebrated its fifth anniversary with a name change to Alexian Brothers Medical Center. The Brothers and hospital officials felt that the new name more accurately reflected the institution's goals and plans for the future. The hospital was incorporated under the new name on April 20. Also at this time, the Annex was renamed the C.E. Niehoff Pavilion, honoring the memory of Conrad E. Niehoff, industrialist and long time friend of the Alexian Brothers. The Pavilion was the first step in the Medical Center's multi-million dollar expansion and modernization program.
Groundbreaking for expansion of the facilities took place on August 6, 1972. Illinois Governor Richard Ogilvie spoke at the ceremony that marked the beginning of remodeling of the facilities and construction of an addition to the main building which would include emergency and ambulatory care facilities, ancillary services, and the Alexian Brothers Medical Plaza with office space for physicians in private practice. Most of these areas were completed by November of 1974.
A 20 bed Alcoholic Treatment Unit was opened in Niehoff Pavilion in May of 1975. Staffed by both medical people and counselors, this unit was the only voluntary treatment center in the immediate geographic area.
In July of 1976, construction began on a monastery for the Alexian Brothers assigned to the Medical Center. The plans included provisions for the Postulant program to move to this location. The building was completed and occupied one year later.
On April 27, 1980 groundbreaking took place for an $8 million, 40,000 square foot expansion and remodeling project. The largest component would be the relocation and complete modernization of the Coronary Care and Intensive Care Units. New operating rooms would be added, and a new completely remodeled area on the main floor would be turned over to the Nuclear Medicine Department. Expansion and/or relocation of key support services, located on the ground floor, was also an important part of the new project. On November 13, 1981, the wing was dedicated by his Eminence John Cardinal Cody.
Services continued to be expanded and added throughout the 1980's. New services included a Respiratory Care Unit, Cardiac Rehabilitation, and a mobile van to take healthcare to the community. In 1984 two off-campus locations for counseling were created, and in 1985 an Immediate Care Center was opened in a nearby town. Samaritan House, a unique day hospital designed to meet the short-term needs of patients who do not require inpatient care was opened in 1986. Hospice, Day Surgery and a Sleep Lab, along with a Child Care Center, also opened during this time.
In spring of 1988, construction began on the hospital property to house a freestanding, outpatient facility to provide radiation therapy, medical oncology and other cancer-related treatments. It was called "Alexian Brothers Regional Cancer Care Center." It opened in January 1989, and was dedicated on February 25.
Expansion activities intensified in the 1990s under the leadership of Brother Philip Kennedy, C.F.A. Groundbreaking for the new Cardiac Surgical Unit was held in the spring of 1989 with over two hundred guests attending. Breaking ground for the two-story, 20,000 square foot addition marked the beginning of a $7.5 million project. The addition included a six-bed cardiac intensive care unit; four additional operating rooms, one of which was dedicated solely to open-heart surgery; plus space for sterilizing instruments and preparing surgical supplies, new conference rooms, and expanded facilities management. The Cardiac Center was dedicated in June of 1990, and the first open-heart surgical procedure was performed the next month.
A $40 million expansion project was begun in 1990. It included an addition to house the Emergency Room and MRI services, a new building for physician offices and the Obstetrics Department, and a parking garage. These new areas were completed in 1992 and 1993.
In the spirit of partnership, ABMC signed a contract in June of 1993 with the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago for operation of the rehabilitation department under RIC direction and control. The program was renamed "The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago at Alexian Brothers Medical Center."
Carrie Ollmann, a pioneer in the northwest suburbs and owner of the farm on which ABMC was built, died at the age of 97 on April 11, 1995. She and her husband, Fred, had worked the farm for more than 20 years, before selling the land to the Alexian Brothers in the early 1960s. In 1996, the Ollmann farmhouse, which had stood on Biesterfield Road for more than 50 years (east of ABMC) was torn down to make way for new hospital signage. During 1963, the house became the Alexian Brothers' fundraising and planning office, as well as the field office for the architect who built ABMC. The early Women's Auxiliary ran a fundraising "lunch wagon" for construction workers from the house.
On October 11, 1996 ground was broken for the expansion of the Alexian Brothers Regional Cancer Care Center. The expansion provided two additional patients exam rooms, an education room, enhanced patient/family waiting areas, and a new technologically advanced dual-energy linear accelerator. The area opened in 1997.
The Community Family Health Center, a joint operation of Alexian Brothers Medical Center and Northwest Community Hospital was dedicated and opened in January of 1998. It was located at 1717 W. Algonquin Road in Mt. Prospect, Illinois. Its purpose was to provide health care assistance to low income patients, those on Medicaid, or those with no health insurance.
The 1990s saw not only a physical expansion of the medical center, but expansion in services not mentioned above. These included a Child Psychology Unit, an Attention Disorder Clinic, a Parish Nurse program, a Senior Care Office, an Autologous Bone Marrow Transplant Program, an Interactive Care Unit and Skilled Nursing Unit, Stroke Unit, and more.
Still more expansion and innovation took place in the next decade, including a free standing building for rehabilitation services. The 66-bed Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital was a state-of-the-art facility that offered inpatient services, day rehabilitation, outpatient services and specialty programs for neurological and musculoskeletal disorders. Alexian Rehabilitation Hospital was an affiliate between Alexian Brothers Hospital Network and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. It opened in February, 2004. The vacated Niehoff Pavilion was renovated to provide space for a hyperbaric chamber and wound care program, an expanded Sleep Disorders Center (12 beds), and the Hospice Unit.
With the installation of a PET (Positron Emission Tomography) imaging system in 2002, The Cancer Institute at Alexian Brothers became the first community hospital in Illinois to offer PET scans. Previously only research and teaching hospitals had access to PET technology. In 2003, the first artificial heart implant at ABMC took place. ABMC was the sixth Illinois hospital to offer the implant service. That same year, in cooperation with the University of Illinois at Chicago, doctors performed a Deep Brain Stimulation on an elderly male Parkinson's patient at ABMC. This was the first DBS performed in the Northwest Suburbs. In August of 2005, ABMC performed the nation's first double implant of the new Bicor stented tissue heart valve, and opened the Illinois Gamma Knife Center to treat brain pathologies.
The dedication of ABMC's 24 Hour Care Center located at 1339 W. Lake Street in Addision, Illinois took place in August of 2005. This was the first of its kind affiliated with ABMC. In addition to 24-hour care services, the new center offered diagnostic imaging and corporate health services. The center, which opened in July, featured a large-bore, closed magnet MRI. The center also had a 16-slice CT scan for heart and lung scans and other diagnostic tests. The name of the center was changed to Alexian Brothers Immediate Care Center late in 2007.
ABMC's expansion blueprint also included a new look for the hospital's main entrance, additional bed capacity, and major remodeling and renovation of all inpatient units including the conversion of semi-private rooms into private rooms. In addition, ABMC centralized its diagnostic services in a new "medical mall" which was connected to a new 60,000 square-foot medical office building. A large parking garage was built to serve the medical mall. The new, three-story medical office building was completed in late summer of 2005, and on May 13, 2006 was dedicated as the Brother Florian Eberle Medical Office Building. The Most Rev. John R. Manz, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, officiated at the blessing.
In November of 2005 a new hospital lobby, which connected the new medical office building with the Wimmer Medical Plaza, was completed. A corridor connecting the new lobby to the hospital was completed in early summer 2006. The corridor served as the spine of a two-story "ambulatory care mall," which enabled ABMC to centralize diagnostic services. A five-story addition was constructed atop the mall as part of a long-term effort to maximize the number of private rooms. Construction on the bed tower began in November of 2006 and was completed and dedicated by Francis Cardinal George, Archbishop of Chicago, on May 21, 2009. An open house for the public was held on June 6.
The total capacity of the hospital at this point was 387 beds, because the existing rooms were converted from two-patient to single-patient rooms. The tower contained 36 surgical beds, 36 telemetry beds, and 36 intensive care beds. The diagnostic mall on the ground floor included all outpatient diagnostic services such as MRI, CT scan, mammograms, nuclear medicine, and radiology. The project, including conversion of the semi-private rooms, cost close to $200 million.
The hospital celebrated the history of the Alexian Brothers with two events. In May of 2010, the dome from the top of the Alexian Brothers novitiate at Gresham, Wisconsin was fitted with the large bell from the Belden Avenue hospital and installed outside of the chapel. The next March, the Heritage Wall exhibit near the cafeteria was completed and blessed. The Heritage Wall was designed by Brother Valentino Bianco to illustrate the more than eight hundred year history of the Alexian Brothers and the forty-five year history of ABMC, and included pictures, statues and carvings, and audio recordings.
ABMC continued the mission to serve the sick, aged, and dying by planning a new hospice residence to be located across Biesterfield from the main campus. A license certificate was granted by the Illinois Department of Public Health in July of 2010 and ground breaking took place in June of 2012. The Acute Care for the Elderly unit opened in July with 16 beds and a staff trained to address the unique needs of elderly patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia who were hospitalized for medical concerns. In January of 2013, ABMC was awarded with certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, signifying exceptional capabilities for the treatment of the most complex cases. ABMC was only the second hospital in Illinois, and the first community hospital, to be awarded the certification.
Copyright © Alexian Brothers Provincial Archives, 2013