History

History

Rush University System for Health has a long history with roots that began more than 180 years ago. Today, we have re-established the Rush name to refer to all of our entities.

The Rush System provides a single brand of health care, with hospitals in Aurora (Rush Copley Medical Center), Chicago (Rush University Medical Center), Oak Park (Rush Oak Park Hospital) and more than 30 clinical locations across the Chicago area.

Rush University Medical Center

First Medical School in Chicago

Rush has been part of the Chicago landscape longer than any other health care institution in the city. In fact, Rush Medical College received its charter on March 2, 1837, two days before the city of Chicago was incorporated. Rush Medical College was the first medical school in Chicago, and one of the earliest in the Midwest.

Named After a Founding Father

The founder of Rush Medical College, Daniel Brainard, MD, named the school in honor of Benjamin Rush, MD, the only physician with medical school training to sign the Declaration of Independence.

The early Rush faculty became nationally recognized for patient care, research and teaching, and was associated with a number of scientific developments and new clinical procedures.

Teaching Hospital Established

The Rush faculty established a teaching hospital, Presbyterian Hospital, with the support of a local Presbyterian congregation in 1883. And Presbyterian Hospital School of Nursing was founded in 1903.

Rush Medical College was affiliated with the University of Chicago from 1898 to 1941. Following the end of this affiliation, Rush Medical College closed its doors in 1942 for the next 27 years.

Merging With Presbyterian and St. Luke’s

Meanwhile, St. Luke’s Hospital, located on the 1400 blocks of South Michigan and Indiana avenues, was founded in 1864. St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing was established in 1885. St. Luke’s merged with Presbyterian Hospital to form Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital in 1956. Their nursing schools also united to create the Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing.

In 1969, Rush Medical College reactivated its charter and merged with Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Hospital to form Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center.

Formation of Rush University Medical Center

Rush University was established in 1972. It now includes colleges of medicine, nursing, health sciences and research training.

Our institution officially changed its name in September 2003 to Rush University Medical Center. The change was designed to reflect the key role that education and research play in Rush’s patient care mission.

Rush’s newest additions to its campus include the Tower, an innovative 376-bed hospital building and the Sofija and Jorge O. Galante Orthopedic Building.

Rush University Medical Center Archives

The Rush University Medical Center Archives is the official archival agency of Rush University Medical Center and Rush University. 

Visit the Rush University Medical Center Archives website to learn about the history of Rush University Medical Center and Rush University, including our predecessor schools and hospitals going back to 1837, through the present day.

Rush Copley Medical Center

More than 130 years ago, a child was found unconscious in a play yard in Aurora. There was no hospital at the time, so the child was taken to the local jail. That moment, according to historical accounts, provided the motivation for local residents to open Aurora City Hospital in 1886.

Many years and several name changes later, that hospital became Rush Copley Medical Center.

On Oct. 12, 1886, Aurora City Hospital opened with five physicians and 12 rooms. Then a new Aurora City Hospital opened its doors in 1890 with eight private rooms, six ward beds for women and seven for men, and five nursery beds.

Aurora Hospital Nursing School and Community-Backed Hospital Growth

The opening of the hospital created a need for more people skilled in nursing to care for patients. In 1893, the Aurora Hospital Association established a School of Nursing. In 1980, the Copley School of Nursing became part of Aurora University.

In 1905, community giving made it possible to expand the hospital. Five years later, the Aurora City Hospital Association realized the expanded facility wasn’t large enough to meet patient needs. The community banded together again, raising $103,000 to construct a five-story hospital with nearly 100 beds.

Opening in 1916, the new hospital was a full-scale community hospital and the American Hospital Association’s showcase — in fact, it appeared on the cover of Modern Hospital magazine. The hospital had 23 private rooms and capacity for 100 patients.

Copley Family Ensures New Facility Completion

Planning for a new wing began in 1927 but was soon halted due to limited funds during the Depression. Ira C. Copley, newspaper publisher and philanthropist, and his wife, Edith, pledged to the project with a gift of $1 million that guaranteed its completion.

The six-story West Wing was completed in 1932, and the hospital was renamed Copley Hospital in gratitude to Copley.

The South Wing was built in 1946, bringing the bed total to 200. In 1947, Copley died and left a $1 million endowment to the hospital. In his memory, the hospital was renamed Copley Memorial Hospital.

In 1970, the East Wing opened, which made Copley Memorial a 319-bed hospital, tripling its original size. In 1976, the hospital established the Aurora Cancer Treatment Center, the Children’s Health Center and Cardiac Rehabilitation.

Bringing Academic Health to the Fox Valley

In 1980, Copley Memorial Hospital joined the academic network of Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center in Chicago. By 1986, Copley Memorial Hospital was serving more than 10,000 inpatients and 50,000 outpatients each year, and when the hospital affiliated with the Rush System for Health in 1987, the hospital boasted 220 physicians.

In 1992, groundbreaking began on a new hospital, and Rush Copley Medical Center opened its current location three years later with 144 beds. It became the premier regional medical center for the greater Fox Valley area, with expansion into Yorkville with Rush Copley Healthcare Center.

In 2017, Rush Copley further integrated with Rush University System for Health to build on a 30-year relationship and grow clinical programs, research, education and community priorities. Rush Copley joined the Rush University System for Health, which comprises Rush University Medical Center, Rush University, Rush Copley Medical Center and Rush Oak Park Hospital, as well as numerous outpatient care facilities.

Rush Oak Park Hospital

Serving the Community’s Health Needs for More Than a Century

Oak Park Hospital was opened in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1907 by John W. Tope, MD, a Civil War veteran from New Philadelphia, Ohio, and the Sisters of Misericordia, a French-Canadian order that had successfully built and managed a number of hospitals in the U.S. and Canada. It was the first medical facility in the area.

Today, while firmly rooted in our community’s history, the hospital stands as a full-service health care facility with expert physicians and staff utilizing modern technology.

The Sisters of Misericordia ran the hospital until 1986, when ownership was transferred to the Wheaton Franciscan Sisters, Inc. In 1997, the hospital partnered with Rush University Medical Center, adding to its renowned services, programs and physicians.

Partnering With Rush

In 2013, Rush University Medical Center acquired the hospital outright, solidifying its continued investment in community health care. The hospital was renamed Rush Oak Park Hospital.

The hospital's campus has grown over the years to include a breast imaging center, state-of-the-art interventional radiology and surgical suites, and a comprehensive center for diabetes and endocrine care.

The campus is also home to the 135,000-square foot Rush Medical Office Building, which houses approximately 30 medical offices, as well as an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system operated in cooperation with Oak Park Imaging Services. The Rush Medical Office Building also houses the Rush Pain Management Center and the Rush Outpatient Pharmacy.

The Rush Oak Park Physicians' Group has practices in Oak Park, Hillside, Elmwood Park and North Riverside