The 2020 National Health Center Week theme (August 9-15) is “Community Health Centers: Lighting the Way for Healthier Communities Today and in the Future.” But today, the Rush Archives will talk about the past and Mile Square Health Center.
In 1967, Rush’s predecessor hospital, Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital*, opened a community health center near the Rush campus, Mile Square Health Center. The administration of Mile Square was taken over by the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System in 1990. Today, Mile Square Health Center’s neighborhood clinics can be found in neighborhoods across Chicago. But its main location at 2045 W. Washington Boulevard stands near its earliest locations at 2049 and 2040 W. Washington Boulevard. This area is now north of the United Center but would have been relatively close to the United Center’s predecessor, the Chicago Stadium, at the time of the development of Miles Square.
To better understand the Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital's development of Mile Square Health Center, the Rush Archives highly recommends Good Medicine: The First 150 Years of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center**, a history of Rush from 1987. The book goes into detail about Chicago’s health care needs in the 1960s, and Rush’s commitment to community involvement and, also, community development.
The early leaders of Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital’s Mile Square Health Center were devoted advocates for Chicago’s poorer patients and firmly believed in their mission to bring a quality clinic to serve the West Side. To learn more about the first staff of Mile Square and its opening, explore the 1967 issues of NewsRounds***, including the cover of January 1967’s issue, “Mile Square Center Names Staff”.
CAPTION (right): Community Health Aides, 1967—"The first seven community health aides to be hired by the Mile Square Health Center of Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital received certificates of graduation from an eight week course held by the hospital’s Section on Community Medicine on February 15. They are (left to right) Mary McDaniel, Wadie Morehead, Geraldine James, Gwendolyn Bouldin, Ozell Robinson, Florine Jones, and Fannie Witherspoon.” From the cover of the March 1967 issue of NewsRounds.
Among these early leaders was Iris Shannon, PhD, RN, who joined the hospital staff in 1966, to develop and direct the nursing services at Mile Square. Dr. Shannon also worked to reduce rates of teenage pregnancy and infant mortality in a high-risk population. Aside from her work at Mile Square and Rush, she also worked with the Chicago Board of Health studying public health problems in inner city populations, and with the Chicago Board of Education as chief teacher-nurse in the Head Start program.
Devoted to patient advocacy and community health nursing throughout her career, Dr. Shannon was elected to the presidency of the American Public Health Association in 1988. Her accomplishments were highlighted in a retrospective of Dr. Shannon’s career in a 1988 issue of Rush’s newsletter, NewsRounds: “Shannon elected APHA president”.
This week, during National Health Center Week, the Rush Archives hopes you will take the time to explore the rich history of Mile Square Health Center and remember the determined people who made it happen.
To learn more about the history of Rush or the Rush Archives collections, please visit our website or contact the archivist, Nathalie Wheaton, MSLS.
*Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital merged with the newly reorganized Rush Medical College in 1969, to become Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center (RPSLMC). RPSLMC was renamed Rush University Medical Center in 2003, to better reflect its status as a leading academic research center.
Rush Archives Resources:
**Good Medicine: The First 150 Years of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, a corporate history of Rush written by Jim Bowman for its sesquicentennial in 1987: https://archive.org/details/goodmedicinefirs00bowm
***The 1967 issues of the Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital newsletter, NewsRounds: https://archive.org/details/newsrounds19671967rush/mode/2up
All photos from the Rush University Medical Center Archives, Chicago, Ill., to be reused with permission of the Rush Archives only. Top: Group Photograph Collection, Personnel, Mile Square Heatlh Center, circa 1970, P4104a; Second: Group Photograph Collection, Personnel, Mile Square Health Center, Community Health Aides, 1967, P4105c; Third: From the Individual Photograph Collection, Iris Shannon, circa 1986, P1421; Bottom: From the Group Photograph Collection, Personnel, Mile Square Health Center, circa 1970, P4103i.
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