St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights is coming down.
In a matter of weeks, the southeast corner at the intersection of U.S. 1 and U.S. 30 will be empty. The 108-year-old institution will be gone from its Chicago Heights location forever, after being folded into a new Franciscan Health operation at Olympia Fields.
The Sisters of St. Francis of Perpetual Adoration founded the hospital at 1423 Chicago Road on Thanksgiving Day in November 1911. At its peak, St. James Hospital had more than 300 beds. Staff in more than 50 departments served patients from Homewood and Flossmoor, as well as a wide radius in the South Suburbs.
But the hospital found that administering health care changed radically over the last 20 years. At one point, St. James Hospital was estimated to be losing around $20 million a year.
Maria Ramos, vice president of Marketing and Public Relations for Franciscan Health, said the Franciscan Alliance Board of Directors approved and announced the restructuring and consolidation plan in October 2015 and the Illinois Health Services and Facilities Review Board approved the application to expand the Olympia Fields campus in March 2016.
The Franciscan Health network moved its operations to the former Olympia Fields Osteopathic Hospital and spent approximately $125 million bringing the facility up to its standards, including converting to all private rooms, adding a birthing center and an inpatient rehabilitation unit.
The most recent change was its new emergency room facilities that opened in 2018. Once that change was made, the St. James Hospital site could be closed, Ramos said.
“Preparations for a safe demolition began in the fourth quarter of 2018 and razing of the first out-buildings and the parking garage began in January 2019. The project is expected to continue through the end of 2019,” she said.
The hospital’s foundation is saving hundreds of bricks from the St. James Hospital demolition and “will announce plans for distribution of the bricks,” according to Ramos.
“Franciscan owns the property and will continue until such time a redevelopment plan is agreed upon by Franciscan and the city of Chicago Heights,” she added.