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BLOOMINGTON — OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Medical Center is embarking on a $1.5 million expansion and renovation project focused on spiritual care.

The hospital, 2200 E. Washington St., plans to build a chapel that will be larger and more accessible than the existing 50-year-old chapel.

"We serve people through our faith and love" and that is symbolized by the chapel, said Deacon Gayle Cyrulik, the hospital's manager of chaplaincy services. "It's a beacon of hope."

"The chapel is used as a worship space" by hospital staff, patient family members and visitors, Cyrulik said. "It's a sacred space and a peaceful place where all are welcome. People come in for strength."

But the existing chapel, which was near the front entrance of the original hospital building when it opened in 1968, is now in the center of the building after hospital building expansions and renovations, Cyrulik said.

"The chapel today is no longer at the front of the medical center and is no longer visible," said Chad Boore, OSF HealthCare Eastern Region CEO. "It's easy to walk by" without realizing it, he said.

In addition, the chapel — which can seat 48 people in pews and has room for another 15 chairs — is no longer large enough, he said.

"The question we asked ourselves was 'How do we put the chapel front and center again?'" Boore said.

After study, OSF has approved plans for a 3,000-square-foot chapel that is 1½ times the size of the existing chapel, with space for 76 chairs that may be rearranged, depending on the need of attendees, Cyrulik said.

The location will be between the main hospital entrance off Washington Street and the emergency department. With an illuminated cross outside the chapel and beside the front entrance, the message will be "you're coming into a sacred place," Boore said.

Outside the chapel, a garden of remembrance will be planted, Cyrulik said. The inside "will be flooded with natural light," he said.

"At OSF, we believe the chapel is as important as the cath (catheterization) lab," said hospital President Lynn Fulton. "Having the front door to His house at our front door is important."

The replacement chapel will be built in a portion of an existing hallway and overflow emergency department waiting area, Boore said. In addition, the chapel will extend out into existing green space and will take one of two lanes of an existing drive between the main entrance and emergency department, he said.

About $900,000 of the $1.5 million will be coming from OSF HealthCare St. Joseph Foundation unrestricted funds, said Kimberly Scheirer, OSF HealthCare Foundation Eastern Region philanthropy director.

Of the remaining $600,000, $425,000 has been raised so far from the community, including St. Joseph employees.

"We have $175,000 more to raise and are looking to the community to help," Scheirer said.

Boore hopes to break ground for the project in spring 2019 and open the new chapel in spring 2020.

A new use for the existing chapel space has not yet been determined, Fulton said.

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Contact Paul Swiech at (309) 820-3275. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_swiech


Health Reporter

Health reporter for Lee Enterprises Central Illinois.

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