Little Company of Mary by the Decades: The 1970s

In 1970, Little Company of Mary Hospital celebrated its 40th anniversary. Since the opening, the hospital had grown five times the original size and was now the largest Catholic hospital in the Chicago suburbs. By the numbers, the hospital had 600 beds, 200 physicians, and 1,700 employees. The Hospital cared for 24,000 patients and newborns every year and more than 36,000 emergency patients. It had grown so large that it was overcrowded—patients were often staying in the hallways and lounges when the waiting list hovered around 300. The emergency unit continually accepted patients, although on some days it was filled to capacity. In 1971 a new convent for the Sisters opened, and areas of the previous convent were used to treat patients to help relieve the crowded conditions.

The hospital opened and started a number of important services that still continue today:

  • Pediatric Cardiology Center: In January 1971, a Pediatric Cardiology center was opened. Prior to this time, cardiology for children and adults was treated by the same department. Dr. Martin Sacks, the Pediatric director and supervisor of the new program noted that it was time for a change. Medicine had started to separate the two, realizing that children with heart problems had congenital heart defects, while adult’s heart problems were on hearts that were once healthy. The new program teamed with University of Chicago Hospital, which provided equipment and expertise, while Little Company of Mary Hospital provided the space and lab work. At the time, collaboration between universities and hospitals was relatively new. Thus this was a great demonstration of partnership.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit: As the “Baby Hospital” of the area, Little Company of Mary appropriately boasted the second birth of the New Year in January 1971, 10 seconds after midnight. Little Company of Mary opened a new neonatal intensive care unit later that year. At the opening, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy made an appearance.
  • Hospice: In 1979, just four years after hospice began in the United States, Little Company of Mary Hospital began offering Hospice Care. This brought the Sister’s ministry to care for the sick and the dying full circle. Nurses and volunteers visited patients’ homes to care for patients and their families, offering patient comfort, symptom management, pain control and support.
  • Cancer linear accelerator. In 1976, the Women’s Auxiliary purchased a new linear accelerator for the radiation oncology department. At the time this was one of the most sophisticated and powerful tools for cancer treatment. Visit our Cancer Center site to read about the advanced tools we’re using today.

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Information and photo from A Healing Presence: The story of Little Company of Mary Hospital’s Journey of Unconditional Love, by Little Company of Mary Hospital and Health Care Centers, Maurice Possley, Editor

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