February 27, 2015

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center: A look back at 150 years

Founded by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine in 1865, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is celebrating its 150th anniversary throughout 2015. The celebration includes special events and other efforts as featured at www.stv150.org.

St. Vincent Charity, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, is the oldest private hospital in Cleveland. The Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com recently published a series of historical photos and a brief history of St. Vincent Charity to mark its 150th anniversary.

As seen on Cleveland.com:

Vintage St. Vincent Charity photos: A look back as the hospital marks 150th anniversary

On Saturday, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a big invitation-only bash at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

It's a far cry from the hospital's humble beginnings in October 1865, when St. Vincent Charity Hospital opened on Perry Street (now East 22nd Street) between Marion and Garden Streets (now Central Avenue). A small group of Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, arrived in Cleveland from France more than a dozen years earlier to take care of the sick; they would eventually lead, staff and manage the hospital.

The earliest focus was caring for soldiers wounded in the Civil War. The mission quickly extended to anyone who needed health care, regardless of their religion or ability to pay.

In 1867 Charity Hospital Medical College conferred the first medical degree in Cleveland. In 1881 the medical college merged with the Medical Department of Wooster University to form Western Reserve Medical Department, the precursor to Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. 

St. Vincent Charity Hospital also has been the site of several other medical milestones, among them Cleveland's first operating room, which opened in 1881; the first open-heart surgery in the Midwest that was performed in 1956 by Dr. Earle B. Kay; Cleveland's first Intensive Care Unit, which opened in 1959; and the first vertebral implant in the country performed by Dr. Arthur Steffee in 1985.

In 2010, as part of a revamped agreement with University Hospitals, which had jointly owned St. Vincent Charity, the Sisters of Charity Health System won back full ownership, and renamed the hospital St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

Since 2011, Dr. David Perse has served as the hospital's president and CEO.

Today, St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, at 2351 E. 22nd St., is not only a downtown fixture, but it also has medical and physician offices in Cleveland, Independence, Rocky River, Solon and Westlake. The newest physician office opened in January on the campus of Saint Ignatius High School on Lorain Avenue, on Cleveland's West side.

Pictured is the new St. Vincent Charity hospital building under construction in August 1964.

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From its Cleveland headquarters, the Sisters of Charity Health System provides oversight, leadership and strategic direction to more than 20 organizations responding to community needs in Canton and Cleveland, Ohio, and South Carolina.

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