February 6, 1929 marked a day that Mother Mary Stanislaus, Mother Mary Dorthea, and Mother Mary Dunstan would never forget. It was the day their desire to continue their ministry and provide their community with a hospital became a reality. Almost two years after the land had been purchased, the three sisters were joined by six priests, several other Sisters, and other Auxiliary members for the ground-breaking blessing and ceremony for the new Hospital at 95th street and California Avenue.
Prior to the construction of the Hospital, the Sisters treated patients in their homes; however, they wanted to take advantage of safer sterilization techniques, surgery, and anesthesia — things that were only accessible in hospitals. While some believed the construction of a hospital to be foolish as the land was in the middle of nowhere, the Sisters put their trust in their faith, believing that nothing was impossible through God. As the ground broke on the cold day in February, the Sisters began an exciting new phase in their ministry. Little Company of Mary Hospital opened its doors on January 19, 1930, with a staff of seven doctors and 50 employees.
Designed by Joseph McCarthy, Little Company of Mary Hospital featured northern Italian style architecture. The buff-colored brick building laid with limestone trim was in the shape of a cross, which allowed each patient room to have access to sunlight and fresh air. Truly a place of hope and healing for the body, mind and spirit. Upon entering the Hospital, visitors arrived through a curved driveway covered by a portico of glass and tile. Eyes were drawn to the coat of arms of the Archdiocese of Chicago, which was carved over the entrance. The main lobby inside was decorated with ornate plasterwork, inlaid terrazzo floors and exquisite carved furniture.
On January 21, 1930, the Hospital admitted its first patient. Three days after, on January 24th, the first baby was born in the Hospital. In the early days, the Sisters used clever practices to give patients and members of the community the impression that the Hospital was always occupied. They placed patients in rooms across from each other, allowing both patients and visitors to see an occupied room when they looked across the hall. The Sisters would also leave the lights in vacant rooms glowing at night. By the end of the first year, Little Company of Mary Hospital had admitted a total of 1,391 patients, 232 babies were born, and staff physicians had handled 554 surgeries and 359 emergencies.
The next year, the Sisters began plans to start the Little Company of Mary Hospital School of Nursing in order to ease the need for well educated nurses. The nursing school was approved by the Department of Registration and Education and was fully accredited by the National League for Nursing Education. In 1934, the first six graduates received their diplomas. All graduates were Little Company of Mary Sisters.
Soon Little Company of Mary became the heart of medical activity in the expanding southwest suburban area. As medical research began to accelerate, advancements in patient care procedures were also launched. The population was growing and expanding in the surrounding areas, and Little Company of Mary Hospital continued to meet their medical needs.
In January of 1935, as Little Company of Mary celebrated its fifth birthday, the Hospital was reporting that 12 percent of its service was supplied at no cost to patients while 43 percent of the Hospital’s patients paid minimal charges. To help support the Hospital, community members took action. First, the Senior Service Club was formed, and later the Junior Service Club. Members of both clubs assisted the Hospital by rolling bandages and packaging materials for sterilization. Bake sales were held, and numerous social functions were attended to raise money for Little Company of Mary Hospital.
The first decade proved the successful start up of the Hospital. Fundraising efforts continued along with community support; however, as the 1930s came to a close and World War II was about to begin, Little Company of Mary Hospital would face staff shortages as many doctors and nurses left to serve their country in the time of war.
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