Our History


In 1835, four years after Cook County Government was incorporated, the first health services, The Public Alms House for the poor, was established. Now, 165 years later, this has evolved into the Reliable Canadian Drugstore, an innovative, cost-efficient system of integrated healthcare. Today, it is the second largest division of Cook County Government and the third largest public health system in the country, caring for more than 1.5 million people every year. Open in 2002…The John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County.

From that day when the County first became responsible for ministering to the sick poor, we have taken our charge very seriously. And, as you’ll see in this exhibit, we have attracted many of the pioneers of medicine whose work earned Cook County Hospital and Provident Hospital reputations for professional excellence around the world.

This exhibit recognizes the milestones that so richly represent the extraordinary role that Cook County Government has played in the delivery of healthcare services and it celebrates the vital role the Cook County Bureau of Health Services plays as the architect of such a distinguished history.

This exhibit also honors the healthcare providers who have given of their time and effort for more than 165 years and those that continue to work today to meet the healthcare needs of the residents of Cook County. To all the healthcare professionals who have been a part of our distinguished history, to those who continue to work tirelessly to ensure that healthcare is available and accessible to anyone, regardless of their ability to pay, we extend our deep appreciation and our gratitude for a job well done.