March 27, 2018

Sister Ignatia Gavin, CSA, named one Cleveland’s most influential, interesting women

The Plain Dealer recently named Sister Ignatia Gavin, CSA, who was commonly referred to as the “angel of Alcoholics Anonymous,” to its list of “33 of Cleveland’s most influential, interesting women” for Women’s History Month.

Sister Ignatia of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine was director of admitting at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, in the 1930s. She started working with Doctor Bob, a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), in the late 1930s to hospitalize alcoholics for detoxification at the hospital, well before alcoholism was recognized as a disease needing treatment. Wherever she could find room, including space that had been used to store flowers for patients, she placed alcoholic patients for care. She moved to St. Vincent Charity Hospital (now St. Vincent Charity Medical Center) in Cleveland in 1952 and started Rosary Hall for the same purpose of treating alcoholism.

Rosary Hall, since its opening in 1952, has welcomed more than 62,000 patients seeking addiction treatment through its doors. It was the first hospital-based treatment program designed to treat alcoholism. Today Rosary Hall includes a 17-bed inpatient detoxification unit, intensive outpatient program, individualized counseling, after-care, family programs, case-managed transition into community and support networks and medication-assisted treatment.

Below is what appeared in The Plain Dealer.

AA co-founder Sr. Mary Ignatia: 1889 - 1966
Irish born Sr. Mary Ignatia moved to Cleveland with her family at age 6. In 1934, while working as registrar at St. Thomas Hospital she helped create AA by creating space in the hospital for recovering alcoholics. She worked tirelessly for AA in Akron and Cleveland the rest of her life.

St. Vincent Charity Medical Center is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, and the Sisters of Charity Health System is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

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