Legacy of Ravenswood Hospital Celebrated

by Peter von Buol

The unique legacy of the now-closed Ravenswood Medical Center, which for 95 years was an anchor of the 47th Ward, was celebrated August 21 at a special luncheon held at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, 836 W. Wellington Ave.
Attendees to the luncheon included physicians and staff once associated with the hospital and who shared their memories of working at was once an anchor to the community.

“I was always very proud of the work that we did at Ravenswood. I have been very lucky. I first went to Ravenswood as an intern in 1982. Eventually, I became the director of medical education. I also met my wife, Susan, while working there. I am very proud of the work we did there. I am proud of the community support we had and am proud of the friendships we made while working there,” said Dr. Alejandro Aparicio MD, now a physician affiliated with Advocate Illinois Masonic.
For much of its existence, Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center was unique among the north side’s neighborhood hospitals because not only did it serve the community, it also served as a teaching hospital. Ravenswood Hospital’s residency programs included internal medicine, family medicine, nursing and dentistry. While the hospital closed in 2002, its residency programs continue today as part of the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

“These residency programs have flourished at Illinois Masonic and are crucial components of health care delivery at the medical center,” said John Holmberg, director of gift planning at Advocate Health Care.

To pay homage to the role Ravenswood Hospital played in training clinicians, a group of its longtime supporters have formed the Ravenswood Circle to establish the Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center Legacy endowment. The primary purpose of the endowment will be to support the residency programs that were once a part of the Ravenswood Medical Center.

“Ravenswood Hospital has left us with many lasting memories, and most importantly, life building blocks, and a sense of community. Like so many other families, Ravenswood Hospital brought many people into this world, such as my wife Rosemary’s father Paul, and his nine children-and years later, our own son, Philip,” said Gene Schulter, co-chair of the Gene and Rosemary Schulter Foundation.

For 36 years Schulter had served as alderman of the 47th Ward and he had words of praise for how the former Ravenswood Medical Center had always supported its surrounding community.

“As alderman, my staff and I assisted in helping the hospital expand into Ravenswood Medical Center. It was an expansion of not only bricks and mortar but also much needed services to the community. This was due to leaders like Henry Kutch and John Blair, who had the foresight to bring in a great pool of doctors, nurses and staff, certainly not an easy task. Through their leadership, it was emphasized that to succeed, they needed to reach out beyond the walls of the hospital, and developed partnerships with the community,” Schulter added.

These partnerships included opening school-based clinics at Lakeview High School, 4015 N. Ashland Ave., and Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Avenue.

“When I met with John Blair about opening a school-based clinic at Amundsen, and later at Lake View High School, he provided a program where students saw dentists and doctors for the first time,” said Schulter.
For decades a stable community-anchor, Ravenswood was an active participant in community events such as the Greening of Ravenswood which helped transform the Ravenswood Corridor into a green garden. After closing, Schulter added, Ravenswood has continued to serve the community.

“[The campus of] Ravenswood has been recycled into the Lycée Français de Chicago, 1929 W. Wilson Avenue. A big ‘thank you’ to Ralph Brown, our master developer for our Senior Housing at Irving and Western, and Jeff Rappin, the developer of the newer section of Ravenswood Hospital into Senior Housing at Winchester and Sunnyside. Yes. Ravenswood is gone but it leaves a legacy of a “can-do” community. Thank you, Ravenswood Hospital. You took good care of us,” Schulter said.

Through donations to the RHMC Endowment, supporters will be able to help Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center continue to provide excellence in its medical, dental and nursing education programs.

The Ravenswood Health Care Foundation on Oct. 4 will host its Ravenswood Legacy Day at the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. The program will begin at 11:00 a.m. and will be followed by a luncheon at 12:30. In addition, there will be a lecture at 1:30 p.m. on the topic of graduate medical education in community teaching hospitals as part of the hospital’s Gerald W. Mungerson Lecture Series. Please email Emily Wagner at Emily.wagner@advocatehealth.com with any questions or to request an invitation.

The Ravenswood Health Care Foundation is a result of the merger of the former Ravenswood Hospital Medical Center into Advocate Health Care. In 1999, Advocate began to contribute $1 million annually to the Foundation. At its inception, trustees allocated funds toward community- health education and outreach.

According to Holmberg, the RHMC Endowment will accept gifts in many ways, including gifts of stocks, gifts from a will or living-trust, gifts from donor-advised funds, gifts by making a beneficiary designation in financial accounts and insurance policies, gifts of personal or real-estate property and gifts from charitable trusts or gift annuities.
For more information contact John Holmberg at (630) 929-6945 or john.holmberg@advocatehealth.com

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