In 1938, local physicians Dr. J.W. Barrow and Dr. Leo J. Brown formed a partnership to practice medicine in Carbondale, Illinois. Two years later, they were joined by Dr. John Lewis and Dr. John Taylor, eventually calling their group the Carbondale Clinic. The physicians practiced together until World War II intervened, leaving only one of them behind to treat patients. When the group reassembled after the war, their increasing knowledge of medicine made it obvious to them that new medical specialties would be needed in the region. To carry out their plans they needed their own hospital but, under Illinois law, would also need their own corporation for ownership.

About that time, Dr. Brown made a trip to nearby Herrin Hospital to promote his radiology services. Herrin Hospital had been built in 1914 as a center for black lung disease and other coal mine-related injuries; ten dollars was taken out of each miner’s paycheck to fund the hospital. By the end of the war, the town was economically depressed and it was doubtful the hospital could remain open. Upon Dr. Brown’s visit to Herrin in 1946, he learned the hospital was for sale for the asking price of $105,000. Two days later, the four physicians of the Carbondale Clinic formed the not-for-profit Southern Illinois Hospital Corporation in order to purchase Herrin Hospital.

Shortly thereafter, the doctors decided to move ahead with plans to also construct their own hospital, and by 1950 Doctors Hospital had opened in Carbondale. In 1961, they also purchased nearby Holden Hospital, which was subsequently torn down to expand Doctors Hospital, rather than attempt to renovate the facility originally built in 1875 as a drug treatment center.

The two remaining hospitals in Herrin and Carbondale existed as Southern Illinois Healthcare until 1995, when it was agreed they would purchase St. Joseph Memorial Hospital in nearby Murphysboro, Illinois. St. Joseph had begun as a makeshift emergency center after a railroad accident in 1895. The Franciscan Sisters, who spearheaded the permanent facility originally called St. Andrews, ran the hospital for 58 years before handing it over to the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood. When the current facility was built in 1960, the name was changed to St. Joseph from St. Andrew to avoid confusion with a local public home for aged men.

Today, Southern Illinois Healthcare remains a not-for-profit integrated health system and employs nearly 3,400 people. It is now comprised of over thirty facilities, including three inpatient hospitals, three clinics, numerous physician offices, three walk-in clinics and dedicated centers that include neurology, cancer, heart, sleep and rehabilitation.

Although the three hospitals retain strong individual cultures from their very diverse beginnings, the corporation as a whole is still guided by the values of its founding physicians: respect, integrity, compassion, collaboration, stewardship, accountability and quality. They remain as committed to quality health services today as when the first hospital opened, and strive to treat every patient as if that patient is the person most cared about in the world, and treat them like that person every single time.