Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL

The History of Northwestern Memorial Hospital

The Beginnings

Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s (NMH) storied past began in 1865 when local reverend William A. Passavant Sr founded the Deaconess Hospital of Chicago. At the time, the hospital had a mere 15-bed capacity.

This small hospital treated 75 patients in its first year, with most receiving care free of charge. However, the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 destroyed Deaconess Hospital, leaving the area without a hospital for 14 years.

The Emergence of Passavant and Wesley Hospitals

In 1885, Passavant opened a new hospital called “Emergency Hospital” on Superior Street to treat emergencies from the area better. A few years later, in 1888, Wesley Hospital was founded on Dearborn Street in Chicago.

By 1890, Wesley Hospital moved to the area around Northwestern University’s Medical School and established a primary affiliation to train doctors at Northwestern.

Expansion and Affiliation

Over the years, both Passavant Memorial Hospital and Wesley Hospital expanded their facilities and affiliations with Northwestern University. In addition, the hospitals initiated collaborations on clinical services and teaching programs, paving the way for an eventual merger.

In 1968, planning and fundraising commenced for the proposed joint women’s hospital, Prentice Women’s Hospital, which Northwestern, Wesley Memorial, and Passavant Memorial Hospital would manage.

The Birth of Northwestern Memorial Hospital

On September 1, 1972, Passavant Memorial Hospital and Wesley Memorial Hospital formally combined to create Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The new 1,000-bed hospital became one of the largest private nonprofit healthcare institutions in Chicago and the Midwest region.

Modern Advancements

In 1999, Northwestern Memorial Hospital opened the 17-floor Feinberg and 22-floor Galter Pavilion at its current location in Streeterville. The state-of-the-art hospital has since become a model facility for hospital construction.

The new Prentice Women’s Hospital opened in 2007, offering one of the country’s largest neonatal intensive care units. In addition, in 2009, the William Wirtz family generously donated $19.5 million to the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital for cancer research.

In 2011, construction began on the Northwestern Outpatient Pavilion, which opened in 2014. The building houses the Northwestern Musculoskeletal Institute, outpatient operating rooms, a center for diagnostics, and more.

In 2015, construction started on the Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center, a 600,000-square-foot building on the hospital campus dedicated to biomedical research. The project was partly funded by a $92 million donation from Louis Simpson and his wife, Kimberly Querrey.

Recent Developments

In February 2020, Northwestern Memorial Hospital announced plans to expand bed capacity with a three-story addition between the Galter and Feinberg Pavilions, adding 49 new beds.

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In April 2021, a security breach at Elekta Inc. led to unauthorized access to patient information within the Northwestern Memorial Healthcare system, including personally identifiable information (PII), such as social security numbers.

Northwestern Memorial Hospital: A Pillar of Excellence in Healthcare

The Hospital’s Remarkable Growth and Achievements

Northwestern Memorial Hospital has come a long way since its humble beginnings, now boasting 894 inpatient beds and occupying over three million square feet within the Northwestern University Chicago campus in the Streeterville neighborhood.

The hospital is well-equipped to provide world-class patient care, with nearly 1,900 physicians representing almost every medical specialty.

The hospital’s endowment reached $264 million in 2020, and research funding surpassed $484 million in 2018, placing Northwestern in the top 15 for National Institutes of Health rankings among all American medical schools.

A Commitment to Community Health and Research

Northwestern Memorial has demonstrated its dedication to community health by partnering with CommunityHealth in Chicago, providing healthcare through medical volunteers at the center’s West Town and Englewood locations.

In collaboration with the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University, the hospital conducts over 4,500 clinical trials and studies annually, with over 50,000 patients and volunteers participating.

Groundbreaking Research Initiatives

Feinberg School of Medicine’s research awards totaled $534 million in the fiscal year 2019. The institution leads clinical trials in various areas, such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS, neurology, rheumatology & immunology, cardiovascular disease, gastroenterology, genetics (stem cell research), dermatology, mental health, organ transplantation, obstetrics and gynecology, sleep disorders, and weight loss.

The Simpson Querrey Biomedical Research Center opened in 2019 and is expected to generate over $1.5 billion in new federal medical research funding within its first decade.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

Galter Pavilion

The Galter Pavilion, named in honor of hospital benefactors Jack and Dollie Galter, serves as one of the main buildings of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It is among the tallest hospital buildings in the United States and the twenty-third tallest worldwide.

Connected to the Feinberg Pavilion on the first three floors, the Galter Pavilion was built alongside Feinberg as the centerpiece of Northwestern Memorial Hospital in 1997. The pavilion houses a combination of inpatient and outpatient services.

Feinberg Pavilion

Constructed simultaneously with the Galter Pavilion, Feinberg primarily serves as the inpatient component of the hospital. In addition, the Feinberg Pavilion is home to the central imaging department of the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Lavin Family Pavilion

Opened in 2014, the Lavin Family Pavilion (previously Northwestern Outpatient Pavilion) is the primary outpatient pavilion of Northwestern Memorial Hospital. It contains the Northwestern Musculoskeletal Institute, outpatient operating rooms, a diagnostics center, eight doctor offices’ floors, a 575-car garage, and ground-level restaurants.

Olson Critical Care Pavilion

The Olson Critical Care Pavilion opened in 1979, adjacent to the Passavant and Wesley Pavilions.

Prentice Women’s Hospital

Prentice Women’s Hospital is an acute care facility specializing in obstetrics, gynecology, and neonatal care, serving patients across the region.

The hospital offers 256 beds, 86 AAP-verified level III neonatal intensive care unit beds, and ten operating rooms. In addition, Prentice houses three Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center inpatient units and selects outpatient cancer services.

A Legacy of Excellence and Recognition

Northwestern Memorial Hospital is consistently ranked among the best hospitals in Chicago, Illinois, and the nation.

The hospital has earned national rankings in 12 specialties, including neurology and neurosurgery, orthopedics, diabetes and endocrinology, urology, gastroenterology, gynecology, geriatrics, cardiology and cardiac surgery, pulmonology, oncology, nephrology, and otolaryngology. Furthermore, the hospital is recognized as high-performing in rheumatology and ophthalmology.

In the 2020-21 U.S. News & World Report: Best Hospitals rankings, Northwestern Memorial ranked nationally in 11 adult specialties and was named the number one hospital in Illinois. Additionally, the hospital secured a position as the tenth-best hospital in the country.

Through its commitment to research, exceptional facilities, and dedication to patient care, Northwestern Memorial Hospital continues to profoundly impact the health and well-being of the communities it serves. As the hospital progresses into the future, it is poised to maintain its status as a leader in healthcare excellence.

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