Wednesday, November 21, 2018

How Sacred Heart Hospital Got Its Name

By Kris Krell

How Sacred Heart Hospital Got Its Name

On July 2, 1886, the newly built hospital was awaiting the blessing of its cornerstones. Community members and a group of Catholic priests and sisters had gathered for the blessing.  Also in attendance were Mother Joseph, Sister Joseph of Arimathea as well as Aegidius Junger, the Bishop of Nisqually. While the Bishop was giving the blessing, he asked Mother Joseph for the name of the hospital.  Mother Joseph was speechless--the superior of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal had not provided the hospital’s name. Assistant priest, Aloysius Ragaru, SJ, said, “Sacred Heart Hospital.”  Ragaru either remembered that July 2 was the day of the Feast of the Sacred Heart, or that Mother Joseph’s full name was Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart.  

Here’s a brief history of Sacred Heart Hospital from 1886 to 1900:

·      April 30, 1886, Mother Joseph left Vancouver, Washington, for Spokane, WA.
·      May, 14, 1886, Sisters in Montreal, Canada, agree to build a hospital.
·      July 2, 1886, Blessing of the Cornerstone and naming of hospital.
·      January 15, 1887, First patient is admitted
·      January 27, 1887, Sacred Heart Hospital officially opens.
·      February 14, 1887, The county awards the Sisters a contract to care for the poor.   
        Contract rate is $1 per day.
·      1888, 579 total patients seen.
·      1889, Additional wing opens.
·      1893, The first operating table arrives, quickly followed by two more additions to 
        accommodate three operations per day.
·      1892, Electric lights replace oil lamps.
·      1893, First obstetrical patient delivers a baby at Sacred Heart.
·      1898, Nurses Training School opens—first in Spokane and second in the state.
·      1899, Doctors pay $375 for the first X-ray machine.  
·      1900, First class of nurses graduate from the School of Nursing.

Mother Joseph of the Sacred Heart and four companion sisters were sent from the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Providence in Montreal to Ft. Vancouver, Washington Territory where they arrived on December 8, 1856.  They were sent to Spokane to serve the unmet needs especially among the poor. Thus began the legacy of the Sisters of Providence in establishing health care, educational and social ministries for people in the Northwestern and coastal regions of the United States and Canada.

Mother Joseph, at the request of Fr. Joseph Cataldo, SJ, designed and supervised the 1886 construction of a “refuge for the homeless, poor and dying,” the area’s first hospital, built in the frontier town of Spokane Falls.  At the time, Sacred Heart Hospital was a 31-bed facility built along the Spokane River where the Spokane Convention Center stands today.  

Mother Joseph established 29 hospitals (this includes Spokane Sacred Heart Hospital), schools, orphanages, and care centers to care for the sick, poor, aged, homeless, and children. 

By 1910, the hospital had grown so quickly that a new hospital was needed.  Horse-drawn wagons carried the hospital’s contents and patients to their new South Hill site—which remains the current site today.  The South Hill at the time was said to be “out of town.” The new hospital had 240 rooms and could handle 1000 patients, it also had a maternity ward and nursery—women are now birthing in hospitals instead of at home.

Sources:  Donna Potter Phillips, Providence Health Care Heartbeat Magazine Summer 2016, Wikipedia

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