Swedish Covenant Hospital was founded in 1886 as the Home of Mercy by the Swedish Evangelical Covenant Mission Friends. It served as a multi-purpose medical home, hospice, refuge, and hospital for local immigrants. As infectious diseases ran rampant, over-crowding in city hospitals caused many immigrants to be turned away.
The Home of Mercy endeavored to care for the burdens of the fast growing immigrant population in the Chicago area, many of whom were poor, homesick, and knew little English. As the need for affordable medical care grew, the first Home of Mercy could not accommodate the growing number of patients and in 1903 construction began for the new building – a full scale forty-bed hospital that became Swedish Covenant Hospital.
The Home of Mercy was located in the area of Chicago known as Bowmanville, on the corner of Foster and California Avenues where the Swedish Covenant Hospital stands today. When the hospital was built in 1903 it took over the medical care, while the Home of Mercy (later Covenant Home) continued to be a place that served the needs of the homeless and disabled. The role of the Home shifted as the immigrant community assimilated. By the 1930s, the Covenant Home had become a respite for aging Covenanters.
The exhibit Tradition of Care: School of Nursing – Swedish Covenant Hospital to North Park University traces the history of nursing education using photographs, artifacts, and ephemera from the North Park and Covenant archival collections along with items on loan from friends of the nursing programs. It is on display in the lower level of Brandel Library throughout the summer and fall of 2011.