OSF HealthCare’s new Center for Health is blessed at Knoxville Ave., Peoria, location
Blessing and dedication ceremonies took place Aug. 11 at the new OSF HealthCare Center for Health – Knoxville Ave. in Peoria, which is expected to welcome its first patients later this month.
In late 2018, OSF HealthCare purchased the former Cub Foods building at 1800 N. Knoxville Ave., which had been vacant for nine years. Major renovations have just been completed, transforming the nearly 64,000-square-foot building to serve as host for several providers, including the following branches of OSF Medical Group – endocrinology and diabetes, rheumatology, and infectious disease.
In addition, the Center for Health will include laboratory services and a retail pharmacy.
The site also partners with two other major medical entities in the region – the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria (UICOMP) and Heartland Health Services. The renovated building will house UICOMP’s Pediatric Resource Center and University Pediatrics, as well as a Heartland Clinic, and is scheduled to open to patients in late August.
“What all of us are doing, one way or another, is supporting the care of human life, one of the most sacred things you can do,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, chairperson of the board for OSF HealthCare. “That makes this ground holy, and all those who serve here are holy – engaged in a living extension of God’s love and care for his people.”
135 EXAM ROOMS BLESSED
The blessing ceremony in the main lobby of the new facility was attended by a socially distanced and masked gathering of about 30 people.
“I know God has his arm encircled around us,” said Sister Judith Ann. “We can’t give hugs, but he can, and his aren’t virtual even though ours have to be.”
The size of the former grocery store-turned-health-center – it will feature 135 exam rooms, for example – was brought home by Deacon Joe Knapp, manager of pastoral care at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria in explaining why he was only sprinkling holy water in two nearby rooms during the ceremony.
“I took a walk through the facility yesterday to pre-bless all the exam rooms,” said Deacon Knapp. “It took me a good half-hour to get through the whole thing.”
He prayed that God would “make this place a center of love where we practice the art of healing wisely, where we serve the sick with care, and where the faithful come to visit Christ in the person of their sisters and brothers.”
PARTNERSHIP IN ACTION
Other speakers during the brief ceremony, which was followed by a ribbon-cutting, included:
- Bob Anderson, president of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, who thanked the engineers, architects, and construction leaders who worked with the various staffs to best meet the needs of patients;
- Dr. Meenakshy Aiyer, dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, who praised the “ongoing collaboration and partnership in action” that the renovated facility represents, and
- Dr. Gregg Stoner, chief medical officer of Heartland Health Services, who noted the facility’s location just north of downtown Peoria on Peoria’s East Bluff is “accessible to a significant portion of the community traditionally underserved.”
“Once patients enter these doors, they will no longer be medically underserved,” assured Dr. Stoner.
In opening remarks, Shelli Dankoff – media relations supervisor at OSF HealthCare – brought laughter when she said that while the renovations took a year and a half, “we’re probably going to spend the next year and a half or more teaching people not to call it the Cub Foods building.”
“The COVID pandemic may have changed the way we are doing what we are here for today,” said Dankoff in addressing the small crowd as well as others viewing online, “but it in no way detracts from the importance of the ‘what’ we are doing.” She said the project extends the healing ministry of the Sisters of the Third Order of Saint Francis within the Peoria community, collaborates with the various partners, and helps to revitalize part of the East Bluff neighborhood.