Skip to main content

CGH Historical Timeline

View our historic timeline.

1909 to 1918

November 22, 1909
13 determined physicians signed the incorporation papers of the Whiteside Public Hospital to "establish, operate, and maintain a hospital for the care and treatment of people in need of medical and surgical care." Soon they secured a building at 904 W. 4th St., and the rest is history.

April 19, 1911
Citizens voted to give $1.2 million for hospital maintenance.

May 18, 1912
City of Sterling purchases Whiteside Public Hospital for one dollar.

March 1, 1914
New 23-bed hospital opened, as the Public Hospital of Sterling.

March 17, 1914
The nurse training school opens.

1917
Sterling Hospital celebrates commencement exercises for first graduating class of nurses.

1919 to 1928

September 1921
John Sanborn passed away, leaving his estate to Sterling Hospital. This money was used to add the new annex in 1927.

1925
Sterling Hospital acquired a new Victor "Snook" x-ray apparatus, installed at a cost of $6,000. Considered the "best the world has to offer."

Spring 1927
The new annex was completed, raising the hospital's capacity to 49 beds.

1929 to 1938

May 1929
The Daily Gazette reported that for the first time city funds would not be needed to support hospital operations for the next year.

October 1931
The board of directors arranged to lease a home on 6th Ave. that was owned by the Martin brothers. The home, known as the old Hoover place, was the residence of student nurses.

October 14, 1933
Crowds had marveled at the premature baby incubators demonstrated at Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition.

But this technology was already in use right here in Sterling! Carolina Mae was born two months early to Mr. and Mrs. Edward Last. She stayed in an incubator given to the hospital by the generous Harry Thomas. Fed with a medicine dropper by her attentive nurse, she grew strong and was eventually able to leave the hospital a normal, healthy baby.

1939 to 1948

June 1939
Sterling Hospital received a respiratory, or miniature iron lung, to help combat the nationwide polio epidemic.

August 1940
Hospital had a record 45 births: 27 boys and 18 girls.

January 12, 1942
Miss Martina Thode is appointed key nurse.

August 1942
Graduate nurses were asked to register for service as part of civilian defense.

July 18, 1946
By the mid-forties, the nurses' training program in Sterling began suffering setbacks. A shortage of qualified instructors led to an intense effort to recruit additional staff. Soon the school became unable to meet state requirements for the number of qualified instructors. Ironically, the nursing shortage never eased. The hospital nursing school made plans to cease operations after the current students graduated.

In spite of the desperate need for nurses, the Sterling Public Hospital was forced to face the inevitable. On July 18, 1946, the nursing school was closed.

November 1946
World War II had caused a nursing shortage, and Mrs. Helen Lawrence was concerned about the care of patients at Sterling Public Hospital. She asked about 25 women to help. They agreed, and the Sterling Public Hospital Auxiliary was launched.

February 17, 1948
An election for the establishment of the Community Memorial Hospital Authority took place. It was approved by a tiny margin. Unfortunately, the law regarding hospital authorities was deemed unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court before it began to function.

1949 to 1958

October 4, 1950
Sterling Public Hospital became Community General Hospital.

1953
10 area physicians share the belief that they can offer more comprehensive patient care through a group practice and the Sterling Rock Falls clinic is started.

1954
Community General Hospital cared for a record 4,300 patients.

February 1957
The candy stripers—teenage girls also referred to as "Tags"—joined the Hospital Auxiliary.

May 18, 1957
The long-awaited hospital expansion is completed.

1959 to 1968

July 1962
Laundry is now on-site with the purchase of two washers and a mangle.

1965
Overcrowding again became a problem at the hospital. Three-bed rooms became four-bed rooms. Patients were often in halls with screens. An expansion plan was discussed.

April 6, 1965
Blood bank capable of handling 50 bottles was purchased.

Midsummer 1966
The Inhalation Therapy Department was formed (now called Respiratory Care).

1967
The new Licensed Practical Nursing program began operation as the result of a collaboration between the hospital and Sauk Valley College.

July 1967
Preemies were first transported by air instead of ambulance (to Peria's St. Francis Hospital).

October 1967
Nurses at Community General Hospital go on strike until November 10. Low compensation is cited as the reason for the strike.

November 8, 1968
The new Coronary Care Unit was inspected and approved for patient use.

1969 to 1978

December 1971
East wing addition of the $3 million expansion project is completed. The wing includes a new ED lab, physical therapy department, pharmacy, auditorium, gift shop and lobby.

Fall 1972
The remainder of the expansion project was completed. The east wing addition added 64 beds, and offered piped-in oxygen, air conditioning, private baths and telephones in every room.

Also, a new imaging device called a planar camera was added.

1973
First ICU opened.

August 1973
Community General Hospital is awarded the "Areawide Trauma Center" classification by the State of Illinois.

March 5, 1974
A new trauma center was dedicated.

June 1974
A second nurses' strike began, ending in 1975.

Summer 1974
A family room was created at the hospital and the Ministerial Association agreed to help with a program designed to ease the stress and suffering of seriously and terminally ill patients, their friends and their relatives.

1975
Chief of staff Dr. John McDonnel announced that fathers would be allowed in delivery rooms during births.

October 1975
The Women's Auxiliary held its first "Calico Country Auction." $20,000 was made on the sale of an Arabian stallion, donated by Harvey Arabian Farms. Proceeds were used to purchase equipment for the coronary and intensive care units.

October 1976
The hospital opens the radiology addition and the Progressive Cardiac Care Unit. It now boasted state-of-the-art x-ray technology. Television monitoring of internal procedures now also possible. Telemetry is used for cardiac monitoring.

March 1977
The hospital instituted the new "Primary Nursing" program. Under this program, a single nurse was assigned to a patient and attended to all of his or her needs.

In obstetrics, a new policy was adopted that allowed mothers to keep their babies in their rooms between the hours of 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

August 1977
A crippling blackout occurred at sundown on Friday, August 5. Unlike most organizations, hospitals cannot stop functioning for any reason, and the staff needed light throughout the building to care for their 85 patients.

Portable generators arrived from many area businesses and organizations. Local radio stations broadcast an appeal for extension cords, and the response was so great, the stations had to send a second notice saying they had plenty and there was no further need!

Emergency repairs were completed shortly after 2 a.m. the next morning, and full power was restored. The hospital had survived a potentially disabling emergency. The Daily Gazette article about the incident said, "The story was not one of crisis, but of communities far beyond the boundaries of Sterling and Rock Falls coming to the rescue of their hospital and its patients."

October 1977
The new cardiology lab opened. It was formed to expand patient education in the area of coronary care and provided diagnostic services including EKGs, echocardiography and stress testing.

1978
The Coronary Club was formed, sponsored by the cardio, pulmonary and neurology departments. It provided support and education to heart attack patients.

June 1978
Phase II of the $800k radiology project was completed.

1979 to 1988

1980
Ultrasound scanner and first MRI scanner added.

June 23, 1980
The first baby was delivered in the new OB. The new birthing room allowed labor and delivery to occur in the same place.

October 19, 1981
An anonymous donation allowed the hospital to acquire a CT head scanner at a cost of $150,000. Lawrence Brothers donated the funds necessary to furnish and decorate the CT room.

1982
Community General Hospital establishes the department of speech and hearing services.

1983
Long-awaited surgical suites were completed. Dr. Thomas Vinje is the first doctor in Illinois to use a continuous passive motion machine on a patient's elbow.

1984
The hospital forms a shared agreement with Freeport Memorial to lease a full-body CT scanner.

June 23, 1984
The newly remodeled pediatric unit opened. It included high-tech transcutaneous oxygen NCO2 monitors.

October 19, 1984
New Critical Care Unit opened.

1985
The hospital acquired its own full-body CT scanner.

December 1986
The Birthing Center was completely remodeled. New mothers could now stay in the birthing room for recovery.

September 15, 1987
The Rock River Valley Health Foundation is founded to protect charitable contributions that until this time had been included in general hospital revenues (now known as the CGH Health Foundation).

September 19, 1987
The old south wing of the hospital, which included the original 1914 and 1927 wings, is torn down. One hundred bricks were offered as limited, numbered editions for a donation of $50.

1988
Analog mammography was added.

Summer 1988
CGH Home Health Equipment Center began offering a wide range of medical equipment and services for people to use in their homes.

1989 to 1998

August 26, 1989
Because of the growing need for cancer care, a partnership between CGH and KSB was formed to build The Northern Illinois Cancer Treatment Center. It now operates independent of both facilities.

September 23, 1989
Community General Hospital became CGH Medical Center.

1990
A permanent 1.5T magnet and dual-head nuclear camera were added.

January 2, 1990
CGH celebrates the completion of the $2.1 million addition built on the site of the old south wing. It includes a new main entrance and lobby, the Ryberg Auditorium, the SameDay Surgery Center and the gift shop.

Spring 1990
The CGH chapel was completed and dedicated. It was funded entirely by private donations and includes beautiful stained glass.

Spring 1991
CGH expanded its operations into Polo when it purchased the Family Health Center. Other clinics also opened in Walnut and Tampico.

May 29, 1991
A new $1 million ambulatory surgical center and postanesthesia care unit (PACU) opens in the SameDay Surgery Center.

1992
CGH Medical Center becomes a totally smoke-free facility. The Staff Development Preceptor program is formalized to train employees in policies and procedures.

1993
Renovation of rooms on the surgical unit was completed. Instead of the continued use of a mobile MRI unit, CGH purchases and new ACCESS MRI scanner.

March 1993
CGH unveiled its new ED/labs complex, completed six months ahead of schedule.

January 1994
The Rock River Health Foundation changes its name to the CGH Health Foundation.

1994
CGH rescue workers responded to a toxic gas leak at Lawrence Brothers Inc. plant. 20 employees are transported to CGH via eight ambulances.

April 27, 1995
The CGH Health Foundation sponsors its first Eyeglass for Kids Clinic in the Ryberg. 42 children in need were examined and fitted with eyeglasses.

September 30, 1995
The CGH Health Foundation offered its first free prostate cancer screening to men age 45 and over.

November 11, 1995
Northwestern Steel & Wire's clinic opened its doors.

November 30, 1995
First helicopter arrives on the new rooftop landing pad.

January 13, 1996
The CGH Health Foundation holds a health fair in Ryberg where cholesterol and glucose testing, blood pressure checks and free hearing tests were offered.

January 30, 1996
The CGH board votes to provide television at no cost during stays at the hospital.

December 8, 1996
CGH opened the Pain Clinic.

November 1998
An Auxiliary donation creates the Cancer Resource Center.

December 1998
The Prophetstown Family Health Clinic opened.

1999 to 2009

April 1999
Dialysis unit opened.

October 1999
The chapel was rededicated

November 1999
A breakthrough diagnostic procedure called HeartCheck of the Rock River Valley began. For the first time, clear pictures of a patient's coronary arteries could determine the amount of calcium buildup present.

2001
Digital mammography and CAD mammography were added.

October 16, 2001
CGH put its crisis plan into full operation and responded to a carbon monoxide incident at Wallace School. By the end of the day, 279 people had been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning.

February 2002
CGH Home Health Center and KSB Home Medical Supplies began operating as a single, not-for-profit entity known as Northern Illinois Home Medical Supply.

June 22, 2002
CGH purchased the former Northwest Steel & Wire Clinic, to become the CGH Professional Building.

December 2002
The CGH kitchen and cafeteria remodeling projects were completed.

July 7, 2004
Cardiac Catheterization Lab launched.

2005
Computerized radiographs were added.

2006
CGH acquired a 64-ring CT scanner with cardiac capabilities.

September 28, 2006
A new sterilizer was purchased for the operating rooms that could process items in 75 minutes, rather than 16 hours.

November 17, 2006
CGH Auxiliary marks its 60th anniversary and purchases a BiPAP Vision Ventilatory Support System for the CGH Respiratory Department.

2007
New 1.5T MRI scanner was installed in the north wing expansion. 

November 2007
Digital mammography becomes available with the installation of Fuji's Computed Radiography for Mammography system.

January 2008
The CGH Wound Health Center and Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment opens its doors.

May 1, 2008
Open house held for new 66,000 square foot north wing facility, housing a new Birthing Center with 10 fully-equipped birthing suites, 18 new CCU/biotelemetry beds, six new state-of-the-art surgical suites and more!

July 2008
CGH became the first hospital in Illinois to offer the latest coronary stent technology available (the Xience V Everolimus Eluting Coronary Stent System) to our patients.

September 8, 2008
The surgical inpatient floor was converted to all private rooms.

November 22, 2009
CGH Medical Center celebrates 100 Years of Caring!