Kewanee Hospital is renamed, blessed as OSF Saint Luke

Photo Caption: The former Kewanee Hospital was blessed and dedicated as OSF Saint Luke Medical Center during ceremonies on April 2 welcoming the facility into the OSF Healthcare System.

By: By Tom Dermody

KEWANEE — With prayers for patients and staff and a belief that “God brought our two wonderful organizations together,” Kewanee Hospital was blessed on April 2 as a member of the OSF Healthcare System and renamed OSF Saint Luke Medical Center.

“What a glorious day this is,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, chairperson of OSF Healthcare System, who called the new integration “a match made in heaven.”

“I know God is smiling on us today and blessing us as we walk together, hand-in-hand, united in our commitment to serve our communities with the greatest care and love,” said Sister Judith Ann. She prayed that St. Luke, who is patron of physicians, would “give us a heart to love and to faithfully serve the sick and the poor in the spirit of Christ and after the example of St. Francis of Assisi.”

Sister Judith Ann was one of several speakers who — prior to blessing ceremonies led by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC — pointed out the advantages of the new relationship and thanked those who worked on the multi-year transition.

Lynn Fulton, president of OSF Saint Luke who has guided the medical center for two years, noted that the hospital this month also celebrates its 95th year of serving the community. A new $27 million, 25-bed facility with radiology, surgery, and lab opened on a campus on Kewanee’s southern edge in 2008.

Fulton told a crowd of more than 250 filling the hospital’s lobby that the relationship with OSF is already offering patients greater access to specialty care, expanded health and wellness programs, improved diagnostic equipment and access to the expertise of the entire OSF family.

“It really is a promise of great things to come as we look forward to a bright future with OSF Healthcare System,” said Fulton.

Bishop Jenky, noting that the hospital had been serving the sick for nearly a century, said he is confident “the Franciscan charism will only enhance its good service.” Several members of The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis were in attendance.

“Let us hope that all of us will follow St. Francis in loving the Lord Jesus Christ and showing that love by the way we love our neighbor, especially those who are sick, or injured, or hurting,” said Bishop Jenky. He then walked through the hospital blessing its various rooms with holy water, assisted by Father Johndameseni Zilimu, pastor of St. Mary Parish in Kewanee.

Other speakers at the ceremonies included:

— Kevin Schoeplein, chief executive officer for OSF HealthCare, who noted recent dramatic changes in the delivery of health care and said “we look forward to having our colleagues here at OSF Saint Luke with us on this amazing and necessary journey.”

— Dr. Daniel Congreve, chief of staff at OSF Saint Luke, who shared stories how the “collaborative and interdependent partnership will benefit patients and medical providers through increased access to resources. “All of us here today want to do what is best for the patients every time,” he said.

— Mark Rewerts, vice-chairperson of the newly configured OSF Saint Luke community board, told the group that with the passage of health care reform in 2009 “we knew we needed to align ourselves with a good partner to ensure we’d have access to quality health care in the rural communities.” The mission, vision, and values of OSF Healthcare aligned well with that of the founders of Kewanee Hospital, he said.

As every corner of the facility was being blessed, an OSF choir directed by John Evancho performed several songs, including “The Prayer of St. Francis.” Serving as master of ceremonies was James Farrell, senior vice president of marketing and communications for OSF HealthCare.

When Bishop Jenky returned after the blessing, he jokingly informed the crowd “I’m afraid I got a little carried away with the holy water and the entire computer system is now down.”

Guests were then served a light luncheon, including a cake noting the hospital’s 95th birthday, in the OSF Saint Luke cafe.

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