St. Joseph's Hospital

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St. Joseph's Hospital

St. Joseph's History

  • 1836 - Mother St. John Forbonne dispatches the first group of sisters to America. After a 49-day sea voyage, the sisters settle in the village of Carondelet, Missouri, just outside St. Louis.
  • 1841 - Father Lucien Galtier builds a log cabin chapel in the pioneer village that would become St. Paul. He describes the chapel as "a poor log church that would well remind one of the stable at Bethlehem."
  • 1851 -
    • Bishop Joseph Cretin, the first bishop of the Minnesota Territory (created in 1849), arrives in St. Paul on July 2.
    • After an appeal from Bishop Cretin, four Sisters of St. Joseph volunteer to travel up the Mississippi from Missouri to teach the children of St. Paul's settlers and Indians. These pioneering women were Mother St. John Fournier, Sister Francis Joseph Ivory, Sister Philomena Vilaine and Sister Scholastica Vasques.
    • On November 10, just one week after the sisters arrive, the log cabin becomes a school to its first students.
  • 1852 - Cholera, a highly contagious disease caused by bacteria in the Mississippi River, begins to infect the residents of St. Paul. Recognizing the community's need, Bishop Cretin donates his family inheritance of 10,000 francs to build a hospital. Two men step forward to help: Henry Rice, a prominent Protestant layman, offers a plot of land, and White Cloud, an Ojibwe Indian chief, donates lumber.
  • 1853 - The cholera outbreak reaches epidemic proportions. With the new hospital still under construction, the four sister-teachers become sister-nurses overnight, transforming the log cabin school into the town's first hospital. St. Joseph's Hospital is born.
  • 1854 - On September 20, Bishop Cretin blesses the new 3 1/2-story stone hospital, located on the same ground where the present-day St. Joseph's still stands.
  • 1866 - A second cholera epidemic grips St. Paul, causing widespread panic. Neighbors threaten to burn down St. Joseph's Hospital if cholera patients are admitted, but St. Joseph's doctors and sisters stand up to the threats and continue their ministry of caring for the sick, regardless of their circumstances.
  • 1870 - A group of local physicians pool their resources to form the St. Paul School of Medical Instruction across from St. Joseph's on 9th Street. The school stays open until 1879 and is later replaced by the St. Paul Medical School (1885-88).
  • 1882 - A smallpox outbreak reaches St. Paul. St. Joseph's Hospital is a leader in practicing vaccination to successfully prevent the spread of this virulent disease.
  • 1884 - Sister Bernadine Maher ushers in a new era when she's appointed superior and superintendent of St. Joseph's Hospital. 
  • 1885 - St. Joseph's gets its first medical intern, an orthopedist whose name is now famous: Arthur A. Gillette, MD. In 1897, Dr. Gillette conceives the idea for the Gillette Hospital for Crippled Children, the first institution of its kind in the U.S.
  • 1886 - On September 24, Dr. Justus Ohage performs America's first successful gallbladder removal in St. Joseph's operating room. At the time, it is only the ninth such operation ever attempted in the world.
  • 1893 - Sister Elizabeth McGolrick receives her pharmacist's license, making her St. Joseph's first official druggist.
  • 1894 - In February, St. Joseph's opens one of the first nursing schools in the Northwest. Co- founded by Sister Bernadine Maher and Dr. Harry O'Brien, the school is open to students of all faiths.
  • 1895 -
    • St. Joseph's procures its first ambulance through proceeds from a "phonograph concert" held at Cretin Hall.
    • Sister Bernadine Maher determines that the hospital has outgrown its 1854 stone building and makes plans for a new wing to be opened in December. According to St. Joseph's Hospital's 1895-96 annual report:"It will be five stories high, built of pressed brick, fireproof throughout, and provided with an elevator. It will comprise offices, parlors, private rooms, one large amphitheatre for instruction of medical students, etc., and the other for treatment of cases requiring abdominal surgery. The cost of this building will be $75,000."
  • 1896 - In June, St. Joseph's Hospital graduates its first class of nurses. Sixteen women receive their diplomas; ten of them are nuns.
  • 1902 -
    • Dr. James Ferguson, an intern fresh from the University of Minnesota, begins the hospital's first clinical laboratory under a stairway. Equipped with a microscope, a microtome and a homemade ether atomizer, Dr. Ferguson performs urine analysis and tumor and tissue sectioning in a tiny three- by six-foot space.
    • St. Joseph's first x-ray machine is installed at the instigation of Dr. Arthur Miller. It's just seven years after Wilhelm Roentgen's discovery of the x-ray.
  • 1903 - Dr. Arnold Schwyzer makes medical history at St. Joseph's by performing what appears to be America's first bronchoscopy.
  • 1905- Staff physician Dr. Fred Plondke introduces the use of spinal anesthesia using the drug Stovain.
  • 1916 - Victor Holmes, a colorful and well-loved orderly and ambulance driver, becomes the hospital's first groundskeeper. He loves the job so much, he stays with it for the next 30 years.
  • 1919 - St. Joseph's establishes its first official maternity ward on the third floor of the main wing. The new specialized unit comes 23 years after the first obstetrician joined the medical staff.
  • 1920 -
    • Sister Jerome McCarthy is named superintendent of nurses, a position she holds with efficiency, patience and understanding for 23 years. During her tenure, she instills in her staff her definition of a good nurse: "a person who is gentle and generous with her time and energy."
    • Sister Grace Aurelia Green is named St. Joseph's new superior and administrator, succeeding Sister Bernadine Maher's 36-year tenure. Sister Grace Aurelia's first task is to plan and guide the hospital's newest expansion project: a 110-bed north wing.
  • 1922 - On September 22, the hospital holds a "house warming" for its new north wing, built at a cost of $460,000. The new wing has a large chapel, a bathroom in every patient room, solarium space and equipment for the rapidly growing radiology department.
  • 1926 - A nurses' residence is erected at a cost of $250,000. The new building provides a private room and ample accommodations for each of the nursing school's 200+ students.
  • 1941 - As the U.S. enters World War II, Sister St. Ignatius Morrow takes the helm at St. Joseph's Hospital.
  • 1942 - A nursery for premature babies is added to St. Joseph's establishes a plasma bank in the laboratory to aid in treating shock cases following surgery and miscarriage.
  • 1948 -
    • St. Joseph's establishes the Twin Cities' first post-anesthesia room under the direction of Dr. James H. Crowley.
    • A deadly throat disease, croup, descends on the Midwest. Infants who contract it typically die within an hour. With oxygen tents in short supply, Dr. Jerome Hilger and the St. Joseph's nursing staff improvise using an ordinary garment bag. Not one child is lost from the disease at St. Joseph's.
  • 1949 - St. Joseph's opens an outpatient clinic to serve patients who are unable to pay for private medical care. The clinic is organized in six divisions: diagnostic; medical; cardiac; orthopedic; OB/GYN; and eye, ear, nose and throat.
  • 1950 - Sister Antonius Kennelly is named the hospital's superior and administrator. She comes to the job after six years as president of the College of St. Catherine.
  • 1953 - Sister Antonius organizes a small group of women to plan a dinner dance to raise money for the hospital's centennial celebration. Their efforts raise $6,100. Later, the group is officially organized as the St. Joseph's Hospital Women's Auxiliary. On May 16 and 17, the hospital celebrates its first 100 years. Among the festivities are addresses by two Nobel laureates, Sir Alexander Fleming (who discovered penicillin) and Dr. Philip Hench (who discovered cortisone). The occasion is also observed with a Mass and sermon by Archbishop John Gregory Murray at the Cathedral of St. Paul.
  • 1955 - In October, St. Joseph's convenes the first meeting of the Lay Advisory Board. With Frank Anderson as president, the board becomes the nucleus of the Hospital Building Fund Committee. The project is a resounding success: more than $2.3 million is pledged with help from Archbishop John Gregory Murray and more than 6,000 volunteers.
  • 1956 - In August, Sister Marie de Paul Rochester succeeds Sister Antonius as superior and administrator.
  • 1958 - In May, St. Joseph's breaks ground for the new hospital to be named after Archbishop John Gregory Murray.
  • 1960 - In June, the five-story cross-shaped John Gregory Murray (JGM) building is dedicated. The new structure is adorned with a 22-foot-tall copper cross depicting the seven Corporal Works of Mercy. The cross still appears today outside the hospital's main entrance. On July 2, the JGM building formally opens, increasing St. Joseph's bed capacity from 273 to 428, which includes a 44-bed psychiatric unit and a 56-bed maternity department.
  • 1966 - With I-35E under construction and a growing number of patients and employees, St. Joseph's solves its parking dilemma by opening a 500-car parking ramp on 10th Street.
  • 1971 - The Lay Advisory Board evolves into St. Joseph's Board of Trustees. Board members include several St. Paul business leaders, a state senator, a doctor and ten Sisters of St. Joseph.
  • 1978 - Hospice Services begin. Home Care, Special Care Nursery and Birthing Rooms are also opened.
  • 1985 - St. Joseph's and St. Mary's Hospitals are consolidated into one corporation.
  • 1987 - St. Joseph's Hospital joins the HealthEast Care System.
  • 1989 - Heart Care Center opens.
  • 1993 - Maternity Care Center undergoes extensive renovation.
  • 2003 - St. Joseph's celebrates its sesquicentennial.
  • 2004 - HealthEast Bariatric Care is launched at St. Joseph's Hospital.
  • 2007 - St. Joseph's implements Level One Heart Care, reducing the time between arrival at the hospital and the beginning of angioplasty for patients having a heart attack.
  • 2008 - St. Joseph's new patient tower opens. It features Centralized Heart Care and Neuroscience Centers; four new operating rooms with specialized technology; private rooms for all patients; a new main entrance, lobby and chapel; and a 3M Education Center equipped with multi-media technology.
  • Read on to learn more about recent HealthEast awards and recognition.

Photos from St. Joseph's past

Check out these historical photos of St. Joseph's Hospital.

father-galtier

"The rude chapel, 25 feet in length, 18 feet in width and 10 feet high, had two windows, one on each side, and faced the river. Expenditures in labor value did not exceed $75." —Father Galtier

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bishop-cretin

After an appeal from Bishop Cretin, four Sisters of St. Joseph volunteer to travel up the Mississippi from Missouri to teach the children of St. Paul's settlers and Indians. These pioneering women were Mother St. John Fournier, Sister Francis Joseph Ivory, Sister Philomena Vilaine and Sister Scholastica Vasques.

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logcabin

On November 10, just one week after the sisters arrive, the log cabin becomes a school to its first students.

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horsedrawn-ambulance

"The hospital building was clean and orderly and boasted a bathroom on every floor. Private patients paid $8 a week for their room, food, medicine and physician and nursing care, but these patients were in the minority. The average citizen preferred to remain at home when ill." —Sesquicentennial: 150 Years of Caring at St. Joseph's Hospital

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class-1896

In June 1896, St. Joseph's Hospital graduates its first class of nurses. Sixteen women receive their diplomas; ten of them are nuns.

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private-room

In 1919, St. Joseph's establishes its first official maternity ward on the third floor of the main wing. The new specialized unit comes 23 years after the first obstetrician joined the medical staff.

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old-maternity

In 1948, a deadly throat disease, croup, descends on the Midwest. Infants who contract it typically die within an hour. With oxygen tents in short supply, Dr. Jerome Hilger and the St. Joseph's nursing staff improvise using an ordinary garment bag. Not one child is lost from the disease at St. Joseph's.

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father-galtier
bishop-cretin
logcabin
horsedrawn-ambulance
class-1896
private-room
old-maternity