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Hygienic Institute’s centennial open house planned Sunday

LASALLE — The Hygienic Institute Community Health Center will celebrate the 100th anniversary of its founding with an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Founded by philanthropist F.W. Matthiessen, the Hygienic (as it is known locally) opened in April 1914, in a house on the grounds of LaSalle-Peru Township High School. The Hygienic became affiliated with Illinois Valley Community Hospital in 1996 and moved into a new building at 2970 Chartres St. in LaSalle (just north of the post office) two years later.  It remains there today.

Known in modern times as the place where local children receive their immunizations, the Hygienic is centering its centennial celebration around its youngest clients by offering an entertaining slate of outside games and activities. Prizes will be awarded and hot dogs, cookies and other refreshments served, according to the Hygienic’s director, Lorene Munson.

“We’re inviting the entire community to help us celebrate 100 years of community service,” said Munson.

The Hygienic had an important public health role in its early years.

“Matthiessen believed a community had a fundamental obligation to protect the health of its people, which is why the Hygienic immediately became involved with public sanitation, safe drinking water and promotion of proper sewage systems,” said Munson.

She noted the Hygienic even led a campaign to ban the use of outhouses in the LaSalle-Peru-Oglesby area.

As the years passed, the Hygienic evolved to meet the Illinois Valley’s changing health needs. Its’ emphasis today is on primary care under the direction of Dr. Kara Fess and advance practice nurses Maryfran Crist and Nelle Barnes. The staff also includes clinical psychologist Ginger Brainard.

“A lot of families depend on us as their primary source of healthcare,” said Munson. “We’re proud to be able to help them and hope we see a lot of our patients and friends at our open house.”

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