Little Company of Mary Hospital in Evergreen Park became the 14th hospital in OSF HealthCare Ministry’s network Feb. 1. The 90-year-old hospital, now OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary Hospital, had been an independent institution operated by the Little Company of Mary Sisters. The agreement was announced at a Feb. 3 afternoon event, after a weekend of changing computer systems and other logistics. Signage outside the building at other Little Company of Mary sites changed to reflect OSF HealthCare ownership during the event. Third Order of St. Francis Sister Judith Ann Duvall, who chairs the Peoria-based health system’s board, said the similarities between her order and the Little Company of Mary sisters made the hospital a good match for the OSF system. “Their mission, their values, their rich history, so aligns with ours,” Sister Judith Ann said, noting that she felt “almost an immediate bond” when she first met with the Little Company of Mary sisters. “We admire the sisters’ longstanding traditions and history of over 90 years in this section of Chicago. God called us now to serve together.” Little Company of Mary Sister Sharon Ann Walsh, who had been chairing the board of director of Little Company of Mary Hospital, welcomed the Third Order of St. Francis sisters and their health system. “This will allow us to move toward the future, for future generations in these neighborhoods, to continue to care for the sick and dying and the poor and the vulnerable,” she said. “We recognize that every life is a gift from God.” For both orders, health care is a ministry undertaken following the example of Jesus, Sister Judith Ann said. “For us, health care can never and must never be thought of as a business or enterprise. When you’re caring for human life, it’s a sacred calling and a ministry. God entrusted those lives to us.” Bob Sehring, CEO of OSF HealthCare, said much of the way Little Company of Mary cares for patients will not change. “There is so much here that is good,” he said. That includes traditions like playing a passage of Brahms lullaby over the public address system whenever a baby is born in the hospital. However, OSF HealthCare is bringing updates in terms of electronic medical records and other information technology and economies of scale to the supply chain, he said. Dr. John Hanlon, now president of OSF HealthCare Little Company of Mary, said Little Company’s leadership and staff is “extremely grateful” to OSF for the opportunity to continue to provide Catholic health care to Chicago’s Southwest Side and southwest suburbs. “This merger between OSF and Little Company of Mary assures the continuation — and strengthening — of Catholic health care in the southwest Chicago suburbs, while allowing us to join with OSF in leading health care transformation throughout our community,” Hanlon said. “It is with gratitude that we welcome ourselves to the OSF family and welcome OSF to the Southwest Side.” The Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board approved the change of ownership exemption application between OSF and Little Company of Mary in mid-December, with the merger of the organizations receiving canonical approval from the Vatican a week later. Little Company of Mary is the first OSF HealthCare hospital in the Chicago area. Most of its other facilities are in central Illinois, in and around the Peoria area, with one in Escanaba, Michigan.