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Norwegian American Hospital changes its name

In addition to the 200-bed hospital, Humboldt Park Health has three community clinics, a food pantry and a professional building.

Norwegian American Hospital has changed its name to Humboldt Park Health, effective Thursday.
Norwegian American Hospital has changed its name to Humboldt Park Health, effective Thursday.
Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

Norwegian American Hospital on the city’s West Side is now Humboldt Park Health.

The 125-year-old independent hospital made the announcement Thursday, saying it’s time for the facility’s name to better reflect the more “diverse and inclusive community” it serves.

“Our new name honors the community we serve today, as it has evolved and grown,” José R. Sánchez, the hospital’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “And our new identity underscores our focus on advancing health equity. This means that we are — and will continue to be — committed to ensuring that members of our community have fair and just opportunities to be as healthy as possible.”

The name change had been under consideration for three years, the hospital said.

The original 50-bed hospital opened in 1894, at a time when the surrounding population was largely Scandinavian and German. But Norwegians had settled in the city as far back as 1836, according to The Encyclopedia of Chicago.

Nearly half of the hospital’s current clients are Hispanic people, coming from Humboldt Park, Austin, Logan Square and other surrounding neighborhoods. Sanchez, in an interview later Thursday, said he knew of no Norwegian-American clients. He noted that there had been some initial opposition to the hospital’s planned name change among employees, many of whom were born in the hospital.

“We had a series of focus groups with our employees, where we talked about the reason why it was absolutely necessary to make the move and change the name,” Sanchez said. “After that, we had full support from everybody.”

About 10% of the clients at Humboldt Park Health are uninsured, Sanchez said.

Future plans for the hospital include a new clinic treating so-called long-haul COVID-19, Sanchez said, noting the surrounding community has been especially hard-hit by the pandemic with a peak positivity rate of 36% among those tested at the hospital.

In addition to the current 200-bed hospital, Humboldt Park Health has three community clinics, a food pantry and a professional building.