About Children’s Hospital of Illinois

As a premier children’s hospital, we address the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of the pediatric patient based on three principles:

  • Children are unique and have very special needs.
  • A child’s illness impacts the entire family.
  • Childhood illness interferes with normal childhood growth and development.

Our History

History | Historical Photo Gallery Image The beginning of Children’s Hospital of Illinois lie within the origins of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center. In the spring of 1876, a group of German Sisters came to Peoria, Illinois in the hopes to beg money for an orphanage they ran in Iowa City. Little did they know, not six months later, they would welcome their first patient to a new hospital in Peoria housed in a small two-story home.

Children’s Hospital of Illinois is a state-designated Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center – the only one in Illinois outside Chicago – and the first state-designated pediatric critical care hospital.  We are the area’s Regional Perinatal Center in combination with Illinois’ only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit and Level I Trauma Center – both the highest level of care available. Our Congenital Heart Center is one of the Midwest’s top heart programs. We are also home to the only Pediatric Diabetes Resource Center in downstate Illinois. Children’s Hospital of Illinois also operates the Pediatric Surgery Center, which brings together ten surgical specialties, including the only pediatric neurosurgeon in Illinois outside of Chicago.

The Sisters established their compassion of caring for youth early. In 1880, the Sisters offered continued care for orphans while seeking out more suitable homes. They also managed the Peoria Catholic Diocese orphanage located in Metamora, ensuring a positive and loving environment for the children housed there. The Sisters showed such compassion for youth, that many times the hospital would also serve as a boarding house for children while their mothers received treatment.

By the 1920s, Saint Francis Hospital was established and in that year alone welcomed 365 newborns. By 1930, that number had grown to 665 births. With numerous recorded births needing neonatal care, and a history of providing continued care for orphans, St. Francis Hospital naturally developed into an outstanding facility for pediatric care. Then, in 1926 Dr. John Vonachen began his practice and founded the St. Francis Pediatrics Department.

The 1930s welcomed a new floor of St. Francis Hospital dedicated to pediatrics. At the time, the unit could only accommodate 35 patients operating with 8 private rooms and two ward-style rooms, one for boys and one for girls. Then, in 1949 the pediatricians and other specialists working with OSF Saint Francis Medical Center pioneered the nation’s first special care facility for premature infants.

Children’s Hospital Today

Children’s Hospital of Illinois was officially established as a pediatric hospital within the walls of OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in 1990. This outstanding facility is a 136-bed, full service facility with more than 115 pediatric specialists representing more than 40 pediatric sub-specialties.

Children’s Hospital of Illinois is the first state-designated pediatric critical care hospital. We are the area’s Regional Perinatal Center in combination with Illinois’ only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit and Level I Trauma Center – both the highest level of care available. Our Congenital Heart Center is one of the Midwest’s top heart programs. We are also home to the only Pediatric Diabetes Resource Center in downstate Illinois. Children’s Hospital of Illinois also operates the Pediatric Surgery Center, which brings together ten surgical specialties, including the only pediatric neurosurgeon in Illinois outside of Chicago.

Children’s Hospital has been ranked in the top one percent of neonatal intensive care units on an international level and has been awarded the National Cystic Fibrosis Quality Care Award. Children’s Hospital of Illinois is also proud to house the St. Jude Midwest Affiliate bringing some of the care and services offered in Memphis, to central Illinois.