Individuals with a special connection to Ingalls Memorial were on hand to unseal a 35-year-old time capsule. Among items in the capsule were historical photos, as well as medical instruments and a birth certificate of the first baby delivered at Ingalls.
UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial Hospital marked its 100th anniversary of serving the city of Harvey and neighboring Southland community at a ceremony that included the opening of a time capsule sealed 35 years ago.
The event — held on November 6, 2023, on the main hospital campus in Harvey — was attended by state and local officials, Ingalls employees, health system leaders, and community members. Distinguished guests included Harvey Mayor Christopher Clark, Homewood Mayor Rich Hofeld, Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson and Illinois Representative Will Davis, as well as Barry Fields, Chair of the University of Chicago Medical Center Board of Trustees, Sam Cutrara, Chair of the Ingalls Development Foundation Board of Directors, and Kevin Purcell, Chair of the Ingalls Memorial Hospital Board.
In his remarks before a standing room-only crowd in the Employee Meeting Room, Clark reflected on the courage needed by the founders of Ingalls Memorial to open Harvey’s first hospital 100 years ago and his hope for another century of service to the community.
“I have faith UChicago Medicine Ingalls Memorial will be here to provide the services that are needed by so many in this area and in this community,” the mayor said. “I am so grateful for all of you and grateful that here in the city of Harvey, this type of entity was produced.”
Mary Jo Crandall, Ingalls’ Chief Operating Officer, lauded the commitment of past and current employees at Ingalls Memorial.
“It takes a village of dedicated individuals to deliver excellent care to our patients and the community — day in and day out,” said Crandall, who spoke on behalf of Ingalls’ interim President Mike Antoniades, who was unable to attend the event. “Whether you are in a support department or in direct patient care, we could not fulfill our mission without you.”
In a memo to employees ahead of the centennial celebration, Antoniades addressed the growth that Ingalls Memorial has seen over many decades and will continue to experience as a key part of the UChicago Medicine health system.
“During our 100 years of service to Harvey and surrounding communities, this organization has grown from one woman’s dream and changed dramatically,” said Antoniades, who will assume the role of Ingalls’ President on a permanent basis in January 2024. “The passion for service and dedication to creating healthy communities that was present at our founding still lives today.”
Ingalls’ centennial was marked seven years after the community health system merged with UChicago Medicine.
“It takes a village of dedicated individuals to deliver excellent care to our patients and the community — day in and day out.”
“Our organization has a longstanding commitment to bringing the care that the University of Chicago Medicine is known for to more communities, and we recognize Ingalls’ role in helping with this commitment,” said Mark Anderson, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs at the University of Chicago. “When Ingalls and its network of sites joined UChicago Medicine in 2016, we were able to dramatically grow as a health system.”
The merger brought together the strengths of two organizations: one with the resources of an academic medical center; the other with deep experience in community healthcare and outpatient services. It also signaled the start of UChicago Medicine’s transformation from a Hyde Park-focused academic medical center into an academic health system serving communities in Chicagoland, the suburbs and beyond.
“We are proud to celebrate this legacy of providing high-quality, compassionate care to the south suburbs,” said Tom Jackiewicz, President of the University of Chicago Health System, which operates as UChicago Medicine. “Today — as part of UChicago Medicine — Ingalls Memorial remains an essential pillar in the Southland community.”
A bridge to the recent past
To cap the centennial celebration, Crandall asked special guests with a connection to Ingalls Memorial to help open the 35-year-old time capsule. Those who were on hand for the unveiling:
- Bill Mazur and William Cunningham, both with the facilities and plant operations team who helped construct the time capsule in 1988. Mazur has been at Ingalls Memorial for 45 years and Cunningham for 50 years.
- Melissa Miller, daughter of the first baby born at Ingalls Memorial
- Aretas Collymore, a 40-year hospital volunteer
- Darlene Drwiega, who was born at Ingalls and has been an Ingalls employee for 43 years
- Aimee Saari, who was born at Ingalls and is an 18-year employee of the University of Chicago Medical Center, which is part of the UChicago Medicine health system
Among the memorabilia uncovered in the box: a letter to future employees from then-President Robert L. Harris, medical instruments, and a birth certificate and hospital bill from the first baby delivery at Ingalls Memorial.
The genesis of the time capsule began when Ingalls’ PR office decided to recognize the 65th anniversary in 1988 by holding several events, including a health fair on the Harvey campus. As part of the pre-event publicity, the team reached out to local residents seeking artifacts or memorabilia from Ingalls’ early years. Among the surprises was Jeannette Kathryn Lewandowski presenting her birth certificate that showed she was the first baby born at Ingalls Memorial. She was named after the hospital founder Frederick Ingalls’ beloved wife, Jeannette.
The intent at the time was to open the time capsule on Ingalls Memorial’s centenary.
A long history of service
It was more than 100 years ago when industrialist Frederick Ingalls moved his foundry and manufacturing company to Harvey. He and his wife, Jeannette Hess Ingalls, saw a need for a hospital to serve a growing population of workers and their families and decided to endow a community hospital.
When Ingalls Memorial opened its doors on November 4, 1923, Douglas dedicated the hospital to his wife, who passed away during planning and construction. The hospital had 50 beds, and its first patient to be admitted was Ella Koehn. A year later, the Ingalls family established the Jeannette Hess Ingalls School of Nursing, offering courses in medical, surgical and obstetrical nursing, as well as pharmaceuticals and public health to local women.
Ingalls Memorial grew as the region’s manufacturing industry developed. Within the first seven years of operation, the hospital doubled in size.
Ingalls Memorial nearly closed during the Great Depression due to financial pressures, according to a city history compiled by the University of Illinois. While community support and staff commitment were able to keep the hospital open, the Ingalls School of Nursing closed in 1934. The hospital again faced challenges during World War II, as supply shortages loomed. A transfusion of new leaders and renewed community investment reversed Ingalls Memorial’s course, and major renovations and a resupply effort began.
In 1953, Ingalls Memorial reached another significant moment in its history: It was among the first class of hospitals to be accredited by The Joint Commission.
A widening commitment to community
In the early 1970s, Ingalls Memorial was instrumental in launching South Cook County EMS, a collaboration with seven other area hospitals that provided emergency care services to over 1 million people in the Southland and still provides regional coordination and education.
In the past 30 years, Ingalls expanded its innovative specialty services in areas such as sleep disorders, rehabilitation, behavioral health, cardiology, minimally invasive technology, cancer care, orthopedics, ophthalmology, and mother-child wellness. Ingalls Memorial also became the only Southland community hospital to have a perinatal facility for premature and critically ill infants.