History

The Healthcare Foundation of Northern Lake County was incorporated on June 6, 2006, following the sale of Saint Therese Medical Center and Victory Memorial Hospital to Community Health Systems. The sale proceeds from this transaction are being transferred to the foundation.

Victory Memorial Hospital: The “people’s hospital”

In 1891 a group of Lake County residents, concerned about the lack of a hospital in the county, organized the Lake County Hospital Association and opened a six-bed hospital at 720 North Avenue in Waukegan. The demand for services quickly exceeded the hospital’s capacity and new facilities were built in 1895 and 1904. A school of nursing was added in the early 1900s. In 1918, as World War I came to an end, a group of citizens gathered to discuss the construction of a war memorial. Fred B. Whitney, a local citizen, proposed building a hospital as a lasting tribute to Lake County soldiers who fought in the war. The charter for Victory Memorial Hospital was granted in 1919 and a new larger hospital opened in 1923. Over the years, the hospital expanded its facilities and diversified its programs to keep up with the growing needs of the community by adding the Abbott Wing with 100-beds; a surgical wing; obstetric department; outpatient hemodialysis center; chemical dependency programs; day care for older adults; emergency department; and the Memorial Chapel. The hospital also created the first blood bank in Lake County.

The hospital also expanded its reach outside its footprint. For example, it added a communication system between the hospital and the Antioch Rescue Squad to provide treatment orders for critically-ill patients in western Lake County; a skilled-nursing care facility in Lindenhurst; and a physical rehabilitation center in Lake Villa.

Victory Memorial Hospital’s legacy is one of compassionate and innovative healthcare. For over 100 years it consistently worked toward the betterment of the community. Its mission was “to provide value-based healthcare services for our community, while striving for excellence and emphasizing human dignity.”

Saint Therese Medical Center: Mission and Service

In 1929, the Missionary Sisters, Servants of the Holy Spirit opened Saint Therese Hospital in Waukegan with 180 beds. Beginning in the 1950s, Saint Therese was considered the safety-net hospital for the poor. During its 75-year history, the hospital offered a number of professional medical training programs, including a Nursing, Medical Technology, Emergency Medical Technician, and Nursing Assistant programs. The hospital was designated Area-Wide Trauma Center in 1973 and was staffed with physicians and nurses specially trained in trauma care. A satellite site in Lake Villa provided emergency medical care with advanced life-support equipment. Saint Therese Hospital also accomplished a number of “firsts” in Lake County, including an Intensive Care Unit, Inpatient Psychiatric Care Unit, Skilled Nursing Unit, Comprehensive Rehabilitation Inpatient Unit, and Department of Social Work. The hospital changed its name in 1985 from Saint Therese Hospital to Saint Therese Medical Center to more accurately reflect the breath of health services and programs it offered.  Beyond providing medical care for the needy, its Catholic tradition led the hospital to offer a program of intensive supports for pregnant single women who needed housing and employment assistance.

Saint Therese Medical Center’s legacy is one of deep caring for vulnerable low-income populations and building capacity of local health services through medical education and training.