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Our History

Arriving in Illinois in 1875, a dedicated group of Sisters built more than hospitals – they constructed a new form of health care.

Smiling senior woman walking in arm with diverse medical professional woman Smiling senior woman walking in arm with diverse medical professional woman

Committed to treating the whole person, the Sisters responded to a need and expanded their healing ministry throughout Illinois and Wisconsin. After over a century, Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS) continues to meet the ever-changing needs of its patients, yet remains true to the founding Sisters’ values of compassion and healing. 

Ready for the Next Era of Health Care.

Ready for the Next Era of Health Care.

To ensure you always receive great care, the HSHS Medical Group is anticipating and preparing for patient needs as health care changes.

By taking steps such as placing nurse navigators in our clinics and creating a system based on quality of care and not quantity of care, you can expect to receive the patient-first attention you deserve.

A walk through our history

Historical Events Leading to the Formation of HSHS Medical Group: 1844
Father Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM, welcomes young women who look after the sick in their homes without payment. It is here in the village of Telgte, Germany where the Congregation of the Hospital Sisters of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis is founded on July 2, 1844.
Sisters arrive in Illinois at the invitation of Bishop Peter Joseph Baltes of Alton, IL to provide nursing care to the sick and poor in Alton, Springfield, Belleville, Litchfield, Effingham and East St. Louis. The American Province of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis is founded.

The Sisters founded the following hospitals:
  • St. John’s Hospital, Springfield, IL
  • St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, Belleville, IL
  • St. Francis Hospital, Litchfield, IL
  • St. Anthony’s Hospital, Effingham, IL
1878 - 1888
1878 | The Sisters founded the following hospitals:
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital, Highland, IL
  • St. Mary’s Hospital, Decatur, IL

1885 | St. Joseph’s Hospital, Chippewa Falls, WI, is founded.

1886 | Sisters founded St. John’s Hospital School of Nursing, Springfield, IL, on October 4.

1887 | St. Mary’s Hospital, Streator, IL, is founded.

1888 | St. Vincent Hospital, Green Bay, WI, is founded.
1889 - 1974
1889 | “The Nursing Sister – A Manual for Candidates and Novices of Hospital Communities” is published. This was the first book on nursing published in the United States by a religious community.

1889 | Sacred Heart Hospital, Eau Claire, WI, is founded.

1890 | St. Nicholas Hospital, Sheboygan, WI, is founded.

1962 | Sisters develop a small central staff of specialists in Springfield to support their hospitals.

1974 | Assumed sponsorship of St. Mary’s Hospital Medical Center, Green Bay, WI, on July 2.
1978 - 2007
1978 | Hospital Sisters Health System is incorporated on December 26.

1987 | Assumed sponsorship of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Breese, IL, on December 29.

2002 | Hospital Sisters Mission Outreach, Springfield, IL, is founded on August 20.

2007 | Chiara Center, Springfield, IL, is founded on March 22.
Inspired by the Mission of our Sisters, HSHS leaders reach out to medical professionals in our communities to create the Care Integration initiative, including the creation of HSHS Medical Group.

This is a brief history of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis. For more information on both their domestic and international missions, go to www.hospitalsisters.org.