As It Hits Middle Age, Lutheran General Retains Traditions Hospital Keeps Philosophy of Treating Mind, Body, Spirit

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Byline: Graham Buck Daily Herald Staff Writer

Lutheran General Hospital just turned 40, and it's flying high.

As a testament to its excellence and reputation, the Park Ridge hospital draws its patients from across the state and around the world.

Suzanne Meyers recently came to the hospital from Island Lake to give birth to quadruplets.

A 9-year-old boy traveled from the Ukraine last year for an operation to remove a brain tumor.

In July 1990, the hospital delivered Melissa Renee Flowers, the Northwest suburbs' first test tube baby.

And while its cardiology, cancer services, pediatric care and mental health care are world-renowned, as a church-sponsored health care center, Lutheran General also holds to its philosophy of treating the patient's mind and spirit, as well as body.

"When a patient comes to this hospital, that person brings his faith, beliefs and convictions," said Rev. Lee Joesten, vice-president of pastoral care at Lutheran General.

"Their beliefs can be a resource for healing and sometimes the crisis of hospitalization challenges their faith," he said, "but they all play an important role in his recovery."

As part of the Advocate Health Care System, a collection of hospitals with close affiliations to the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the United Church of Christ, Lutheran General places a strong emphasis on spirituality in healing - evident by the hospital's large department of chaplains and social workers.

The all-encompassing care is a big reason why Lutheran General ranked first last year in the Chicago area for quality of care, and has ranked the past three years among the nation's top 100 hospitals, Joesten said.

While the 608-bed facility celebrates its 40th birthday, the roots of Lutheran General stretch back to last century.

In 1897, the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess Society opened a 25-bed hospital in a rented brick two-flat in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood.

Practicing a philosophy of comprehensive yet compassionate care, the Deaconess Society began treating the medical needs of immigrants who moved into the area.

The hospital later moved into a larger building in the same neighborhood, but soon services and equipment became antiquated and space became more constricted.

As officials launched the hunt for another location to expand and improve care, a study suggested that Park Ridge and its surrounding suburbs - which did not have an a adequate hospital facility at the time - would experience the most rapid growth around Chicago. …