The Swedish Covenant Hospital and Home of Mercy

It was not included in the original plans and purposes of theinstitution now known as the Swedish Covenant Hospital and Home of Mrercy to make it a regular hospital to which the public in general might have access. but rather a home for the aged and destitute.
The idea of founding such a home must be credited to Mr. Henry Palmblad. for several years city missionary under the auspices of the North Side :Mission Church. In his missionary work he met with many of his countrymen and brethren in the faith who were. homeless. destitute and sick. Moved by compassion for these. he went before the Swedish Mission Covenant at its annual meeting at. Princeton. in September. 1885, and presented his cause. His project met with decided approval, and a committee to select and purchase a site for the proposed home of mercy was at once appointed. consisting of the following Chicago gentlemen. Revs. C. A. Björk. F. M. Johnson, J. P. Eagle. and Messrs. H. Palmhlad. Youngquist and C. G. Peterson.

This committee at once began its work with the result that the property of one Mr. Becker, situated on West Foster Bowmanville. within the city limits of Chicago. was purchased. This property consisted of three acres of ground, a two story brick house and a stable. The price was $.5.500. of which $2.500 was to he paid May 1. l886. and the balance in annual installments of $1,000. so well did the committee succeed in raising funds that on the following , May first the entire balance of the purchase money was paid. Additional contributions proved adequate for repairing and remodeling the buildings at a cost of $1,400. and the purchase of furnishings and chattels for $1,200.

In the early part of May. 1886. the home was opened for the acceptance of wa rds and patients. shortly afterward everything was in readiness for the public opening. and in the presence of a large number of its friends and supporters the institution was solemnly dedicated on the 27th of June. Rev. C. A. Björk delivering the dedicatory address.

It did not take a great while until the Home was filled and unable to accept all who sought admission. The committee went to the alulnal meeting at Galesburg . in with a proposition to enlarge it. and the Covenant authorized such enlarement as the treasury additional funds received for the purpose might warrant. and a loan in addition thereto not to exceed $2,000. At the next annual meeting of the Covenant, held in Septembr. 1891, the president of the home was able to report that a large two-story addition had been erected and improvements made in the other buildings, all at a cost of some­ what over $7.000.

From the Swedish Home of Mercy has developed the Swedish Covenant Hospital. Many of the inmates of the former soon after their arrival were found to be in need of medical treatment or surgical operations. The home had enlisted the services of several able physicians. including Dr. C. W. Johnson and Dr. F. I. Brown. and these men soon attracted patients from Chiea go and elsewhere. Although the home was enlarged in 1891, yet the many applications for admission to the hospital department created a demand for a hospital building. well equipped and modern in all its appointments.

In the meantime the question of raising funds for such a building was much pondered. but several years passed before anything could he done. Two financially able persons had held out promises of substantial aid toward the erection of such a building, one preferring that it be located in Lake View. At the Covenant's annual meeting in Duluth in 1901 this matter was taken up, resulting in definite action. A committee was appointed to select a site and confer with the would- be donors. It developed. however, that these parties withdrew their offers because of the decision of the committee to build the hospital adjacent to the Home of Mercy.

Prior to their decision. however, the committee had issued a general appeal to the people of the Mission Covenant for means wherewith to purchase a new site, but the lack of response caused them to decide in favor of the old one. A definite decision to erect a hospital building on the grounds of the Home of Mercy was reached at the annual meeting of the Covenant at Galesburg. in 1902. Ground was broken for the new building early in October that year, and the cornerstone was laid on the nineteenth of the same month, Rev. K. F. Ohlson officiating and Prof. David Nyvall delivering the address. The building was completed during the ensuing winter, and was dedicated on May 31, 1903. The hospital is open not only to the people of the Swedish Mission Covenant. but it invites patronage from all denominations and nationalities.

The first superintendent or manager of the institution was Mr. Edward Johnson, and the first trained nurse. Miss Annie Anderson. Mr. Palmblad for many years was the president of the board of directors and general superintendent of the institution he had fathered. Dr. C. W. Johnson served as chief of the medical department for a long period.

The present personnel of the institution is as follows: medical staff, Drs. O. Th. Roberg, F. I. Brown and K. L. Thorsgaard; superintendent of nurses, Miss Ida C. L. Isaacson ; manager. Albin Johnson, successor of Rev. A. Lydell, who served for a number of years.

A training school for nurses is conducted, from which a lass of trained nurses has been graduated each year since 1900.

The only large donation received by the institution was one of $.2.500 front the late Louis Sand of Manistee. Michigan.

The hospital has accommodations for about 60 persons. besides the force of attendants, and an average of 40 to 50 wards are being cared for at the home. The institution during the last fiscal year had resources amounting to $21,310. including an income of $10,691 from paying patients. The present worth of the property is $46.350.



From: Swedes in Illinois-1908



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