Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital History

The story of Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital began in 1912 with the founding of Sycamore Municipal Hospital. Ten years later, DeKalb Public Hospital opened its doors, and the two facilities served the local DeKalb and Sycamore communities for more than 50 years.

Visions Lead to Action

In 1968, community leaders began to envision a single hospital to serve both DeKalb and Sycamore, and support for the plan was overwhelming. Land was donated by DeKalb AgResearch, and a community fund drive raised several million dollars. On December 27, 1975, Kishwaukee Community Hospital opened on Bethany Road in DeKalb, and DeKalb Public Hospital closed. A few years later, Sycamore Municipal Hospital closed.

During the late 1990s, a vision for a health system began to materialize with the acquisition of Valley West Community Hospital in Sandwich (formerly Sandwich Community Hospital), serving southern DeKalb County and beyond. KishHealth System was born, which grew to more than 1,450 employees and 260 physicians on the medical staffs of the two hospitals.

Decade of Growth Begins

As the local communities grew, so did their needs for a higher level of medical services. Thus, a replacement Kishwaukee Community Hospital was built on the Bethany Road campus 32 years after the first building opened, on October 2, 2007. The opening of the new hospital marked the start of a decade of rapid expansion for KishHealth System.

In August 2009, the health system partnered with others in the community to open the Community Cares Clinic to provide access to primary care for area residents who were uninsured or covered by Medicaid. Demand for services quickly exceeded what could be accomplished in the original space, so the clinic moved to a larger facility in 2012. At that time, the clinic’s name was changed to Center for Family Health to better reflect the wide range of care provided.

The creation of KishHealth Physician Group (KPG) in 2011 was a paradigm shift for KishHealth System, and enabled system-employed physicians to better focus on coordinating care through a team approach. The first KPG offices were in DeKalb, Genoa, Sandwich and Yorkville — two covering the Kishwaukee Hospital service area and two covering the Valley West Hospital service area.

The new Kishwaukee Community Hospital’s first expansion was completed in 2012, with the addition of eight private treatment areas in the Emergency Department, and four patient rooms and a cesarean section operating room in the Maternity Suites, bringing the total number of beds to 98. The hospital also opened its first Simulation Lab, with high-tech iStan human simulators for clinical education. Meanwhile, at Valley West Community Hospital, ground was broken in 2012 for a 21-room patient wing, replacing patient rooms from the 1960s. And later in the year, KishHealth Home Care was purchased from the DeKalb County Health Department; it began operations under KishHealth System on January 1, 2013.

The launch of KishHealth Home Care on the first day of 2013 was just the first development in what would be another exciting year of expansion for the system. The following month, the Center for Family Health expanded with the opening of a second medical office — on the Kishwaukee College campus in Malta. Then in March, KishHealth System broke ground on a new medical office building in Rochelle.

In the fall of 2013, the system rolled out a new brand campaign: Be Health Empowered. With the rollout came several name changes that would help convey the system’s breadth to local residents. DeKalb County Hospice became KishHealth System Hospice; Unlimited Performance became KishHealth System Physical Therapy Centers; Kishwaukee Community Hospital became Kishwaukee Hospital; and Valley West Community Hospital became Valley West Hospital. At this time, the new 21-bed patient wing at Valley West Hospital opened its doors.

KishHealth System experienced perhaps its most dramatic turn of events in 2015. After purchasing DeKalb Clinic to become part of KishHealth Physician Group and acquiring Ben Gordon Center to operate under KishHealth Behavioral Health Services, the system officially became part of Northwestern Medicine in December 2015. KishHealth adopted the Northwestern Medicine brand, and the hospitals became known by their current names: Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital and Northwestern Medicine Valley West Hospital. They are two of the seven hospitals in the Northwestern Medicine health system.

On the Kishwaukee Hospital campus in the spring of 2017, the system broke ground on the new $46 million Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital Health & Wellness Center. It is slated to open in the fall of 2018.

Vision Continues

The vision of community leaders more than 40 years ago to set aside land along Bethany Road for medical services was the impetus to development of a healthcare corridor along the Bethany Road and Sycamore Road corridor. The area, ideally situated between the communities of DeKalb and Sycamore, is now home to not only a thriving hospital, but many physician offices and medical support services. Better medical care has spread throughout the region from the Kishwaukee Hospital anchor, driven by the KishHealth System and carried further forward by Northwestern Medicine. With state-of-the-art facilities and leading-edge care reaching well beyond that original Bethany Road site that broke ground decades ago, Northwestern Medicine is providing comprehensive care throughout the greater DeKalb County, close to where patients live and work.