February 1, 2018

On January 31, 2018, Cook County began demolishing its Fantus Clinic, as part of its plan to renovate the Cook County Health’s central campus and surrounding area.

A new 9-story, 282,000 square foot building is being constructed for CCH patients at the corner of Polk Street and Damen Avenue to replace Fantus Clinic, which opened in 1959, and two other obsolete buildings. The new health center is slated to open later this year. A new surface parking lot will be constructed on the Fantus Clinic site to serve patients and visitors to the Stroger Hospital Emergency and Trauma departments.

Fantus Clinic has served countless patients over nearly 60 years. It was named after Dr. Bernard Fantus, the Cook County Hospital physician credited with establishing the first blood bank in the U.S. in 1937. The ability to store and transfuse blood allowed for significant advancements in the practice of medicine, more complex surgeries, safer births and fewer fatalities due to blood loss.

“Public health is one of Cook County’s legacy missions – we proudly provide care for anyone who comes to our door,” said Toni Preckwinkle, President, Cook County Board of Commissioners. “Fantus Clinic is where generations of Cook County residents came for their clinic visits, to get immunizations, to undergo screenings or simply to see a doctor for an acute health problem.”

“As we mark the end of an era with Fantus Clinic being knocked down, we look forward to opening our new state-of-the-art health center later this year, which will continue our longstanding mission of providing high-quality care to our patients, no matter their ability to pay,” said Dr. John Jay Shannon, Chief Executive Officer of Cook County Health, who provided pulmonary care to patients in Fantus Clinic for more than 15 years

Also in attendance was Dr. Richard Fantus, great-nephew of Dr. Bernard Fantus and Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery/Medical Director of the Trauma Services at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center; Alderman Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th Ward) Chicago City Council; and Cook County Commissioners John P. Daley (11th District), Dennis Deer (2nd District), Larry Suffredin (13th District), and Luis Arroyo Jr. (8th District).

Dr. Richard Fantus said, “This building stood as a testament to my great uncle. A place where anyone irrespective of race, creed, ethnicity, social status, or ability to pay was treated without reservation. Just like my great uncle, a great humanitarian who treated all individuals as equal. Whose passion for medicine transcended material possessions. While this outpatient center that served countless patients over the years bearing his name is being torn down, the greatness that he achieved in blood preservation, inventing the candy coating for medicine, coining the term blood bank and his other discoveries will live on.”