Passavant Area Hospital History

Passavant Area Hospital History

The story of Passavant Area Hospital began in 1868 when Eliza Ayers, a widow from Jacksonville, wrote to the Rev. William Passavant, a Lutheran minister with a national reputation for creating hospitals and orphanages, about donating a valuable block of five acres on the city’s leading street. Though it took seven years of searching to find the right solution, Ayers gave the property to Rev. Passavant in 1875, and Jacksonville Hospital (now known as Passavant Area Hospital) was built on East State Street. It was the 149th hospital in the United States.

In addition to Passavant, Jacksonville was home to Our Saviour’s Hospital, later Holy Cross Hospital, from 1896 to 1981. Our Saviour’s was started by the Seven Sisters of the Holy Cross following a bequest from Charles Routt. In 1968, Passavant and Holy Cross merged with ownership held by all churches in a five-county area through membership in the Passavant Memorial Area Hospital Association.

The transformation of Passavant from a small-town hospital to a modern state-of-the-art medical facility happened slowly at first, but then three major decisions took place that ensured the future success of the hospital. First was the formation of the Ladies Aid Society (now called Passavant Auxiliary) in January, 1896. The organization’s role proved to be ever-changing as Passavant grew and it worked to accommodate the trends of medicine and hospital care. Whenever money was needed, be it for an expansion, equipment, services, or patient care, the Auxiliary responded. Second was the establishment of the Nursing School in 1902. Its bright, young faces did much to tell the community that Passavant was here for the long run and working for the future. And finally, the decision to transfer control to local sources occurred in 1916, making Passavant a truly locally owned facility.

In 1953, Passavant opened the doors to a new 140-bed facility at its current location on West Walnut Street. In 1981, the South Addition at Passavant was dedicated, housing new surgical suites, intensive and coronary care units, and two new nursing units.

In April 2014, Passavant became a Memorial Health System (MHS) affiliate. Passavant is the health system’s second largest hospital. MHS has had a long history of commitment to the local medical community, including construction of a medical office building on the Passavant campus in 2013.

Today, Passavant Area Hospital serves the residents of Morgan, Cass, Greene, Scott, Macoupin and portions of Brown and northern Pike counties in West Central Illinois. Passavant is staffed by 900 full and part-time employees, and is licensed for 93 patient beds. Passavant is accredited by The Joint Commission and is a Magnet Hospital®.

Passavant Area Hospital History Timeline

1875 – Mrs. Eliza Ayers donated property to the Rev. W.A. Passavant’s Lutheran Association for Works of Mercy for use as hospital.

1891 – Public campaign launched to modernize building.
1896 – Seven Sisters of the Holy Cross arrived to found Our Saviour’s Hospital on East State Street with bequest from Charles Routt.

1898 – Our Saviour’s building addition completed.

1902 – Passavant School of Nursing opened. Two unused floors of Passavant remodeled into patient rooms and new surgery.

1906 – Local citizen corporation assumed control of Passavant. Trustees appointed by 12 Protestant churches in Jacksonville, the Aid Society, the Association for Works of Mercy, and the medical profession.

1912 – X-ray departments added at both hospitals.

1913 – Nichols Nursing Home built at Passavant.

1916 – Passavant Memorial Hospital Association received title to the hospital property from Lutheran Association.

1920 – Pavilion Wing constructed at Passavant.

1921 – Ground broken for addition to Our Saviour’s.

1925 – Isolation building opened at Passavant.

Photo/Special to The Source Newspaper A patient nursing ward in the original Passavant hospital in the late 1800s. There was no air conditioning, so the beds were placed in front of open windows for circulation.

Photo/Special to The Source Newspaper
A patient nursing ward in the original Passavant
hospital in the late 1800s. There was
no air conditioning, so the beds were placed
in front of open windows for circulation.

1945 – $319,000 raised in community campaign to modernize Passavant. Project postponed by material shortages and high costs.

1949 – Second fund drive raised balance of $700,000 required to secure government grants of nearly $1.5 million to build new hospital.

1950 – Passavant ownership extended to Protestant churches of five-county area.

1953 – New 140-bed Passavant Hospital opened on West Walnut Street.

1958 – Construction started on Our Saviour’s building addition, financed by gifts, grants and loans. New School of Nursing built at Passavant.

1964 – Our Saviour’s renamed Holy Cross Hospital.

1967 – Building expansion at Passavant enlarged emergency and patient service areas.

1968 – Unified community hospital system created by union of Holy Cross and Passavant; ownership held by all churches of five-county area through membership in Passavant Memorial Area Hospital Association. Holy Cross building became Frank A. Norris Unit.

1975 – Major addition to Passavant completed, housing enlarged outpatient, emergency, and diagnostic and treatment departments; financed by gifts and loans.
Passavant celebrated its 100th anniversary.

1981 – $10.2 million South Addition at Passavant dedicated, housing new surgical suite, intensive and coronary care units, and two new nursing units. Patient care at Norris Unit discontinued.

1982 – Closed School of Nursing in conjunction with MacMurray College’s establishment of nursing program.

1983 – Norris facility sold to MacMurray College. Renovated Radiology Department and acquired leased CT scanner.

1984 – Remodeled OB unit; developed birthing room. Revised corporation bylaws; reduced number of trustees from 24 to 16.

1985 – Installed hospital information system. Developed cardiac rehabilitation program.

1988 – MRI service began.

1990 – Vending Room, Medical Records, Outpatient, Emergency Room, Same-Day Surgery remodeled.

1991 – Medical Office Building erected.

1992 – Cardiopulmonary, Labor-Delivery-Room, Central Sterile remodeled. New PCS computer system installed. New Patient Registration Department opened.

1993 – Cardiac Rehab, Gift Shop, Oncology Clinic, Obstetrics, ICCU, and nurses’ stations renovated.
1994 – East Wing renovated. Chiller plant built. VNA building completed. New parking lot added. New mammography unit purchased. New sterilization unit added in Central Sterile.

1995 – Helical CT scanner installed in Imaging Services Department. Main Lobby renovated with meeting room addition.

1996 – Sleep Apnea Study Clinic opened in Cardiopulmonary.

Photo/Special to The Source Newspaper Reverend William Passavant, a Lutheran minister, that created hospitals and orphanages.

Photo/Special to The Source Newspaper
Reverend William Passavant, a Lutheran
minister, that created hospitals and

1997 – Transitional Care Unit opened on first floor. Pacemaker program introduced.

1998 – Team Rehab debuted. Passavant scored highest mark ever on Joint Commission survey. Passavant HomeCare opened.

1999 – Passavant web site,, opens. Occupational therapy services added.

2000 – Passavant celebrated its 125th anniversary.

2001 – Passavant partnered with LLCC on nursing scholarship program. New MRI unit began operations. Rehabilitation Services/Orthopaedic Surgeons building opened. Passavant Tribute Garden opened.

2002 – Passavant and John Wood Community College partnered on surgery technician program.

2003 – HIPAA regulations instituted at hospital. HealthGrades gave Passavant a five-star rating for total hip replacement.

2004 – Nursing Service implemented new patient documentation system. HealthGrades gave Passavant a five star rating for total hip and knee replacement.

2005 – HealthGrades awarded Passavant a five-star rating for total hip and knee replacement. Hospital goes smoke-free.

2006 – New Ambulatory Surgery opened. Passavant received HealthGrades’ Distinguished Hospital Award for Patient Safety. Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) installed in Imaging Services.

2007 – Passavant awarded The Lincoln Bronze Award for Commitment to Excellence
Jacksonville Regional Economic Development Corporation selected Passavant as Harold Cox Industry of the Year. Passavant received VHA Leadership Award for providing excellent care to surgical patients.

2008 – Passavant Industrial Rehabilitation and Aquatic Therapy opened. The electronic medical record was launched.

2009 – Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy Program began. Passavant achieved status as a Magnet® Hospital. Imaging Services began using digital mammography.

2010 – Passavant celebrated its 135th Anniversary. The new, expanded Emergency Department opened.

2011 – Passavant entered social media with Facebook and YouTube pages. Electronic Medication Administration Record began. Gift Shop, Main Lobby, and Meeting Rooms renovated.

2012 – Passavant Area Hospital Foundation established.

2013 – HealthGrades awarded Passavant a five-star rating for Joint Replacement and for Cholecystectomy surgeries. New exterior signage developed to identify entrances and direct traffic. The Passavant Hospitalist Program established. New Passavant website launched. Memorial Physician Services and Springfield Clinic Medical Office Building opened.

2014 – Passavant earned Magnet re-designation. Passavant became an affiliate of Memorial Health System.

2015 – Prasad Vasireddy, MD, donated his home to the Passavant Foundation. Passavant OB/GYN Outreach Clinic opened in Beardstown. Lymphedema Clinic and Center for Pain Management added to service lines. Howard and Vera Million gave $4.5 million gift to Passavant Foundation. 3D mammography and open bore MRI added to Imaging Services Department. Specialty Clinic opened. Mia Ware Foundation donated $100,000 for mammography suite renovations.

2016 – Full-time French and Spanish interpreters added.

Share This


  1. Krista Moon

    Could you please tell me where this hospital is located? The article states a city, but not a state. I live in Zelienople and am on the Historical Board. I am currently sitting in the house that William Passavant grew up in. We could use the information in this article for a project we are working on about William Passavant for our museum.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *