St Vincent's Birmingham

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St Vincent's Birmingham in 2008

St Vincent's Birmingham (formerly known as St Vincent's Hospital) is a 372-bed Catholic hospital located in Southside on St Vincent's Drive off of University Boulevard at Red Mountain Expressway. St Vincent's Birmingham is the flagship facility for the St Vincent's Health System. The name was changed when St Vincent's merged with Eastern Health System in July 2007.

St Vincent's Hospital was founded in 1898 by Father Patrick O'Reilly and Sisters Antonia, Bebedicia, Patricia and Placida of the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, who had served as Army nurses during the Spanish-American War. The sisters rented the Henry DeBardeleben mansion at 200–206 15th Street South and opened the doors for patients on November 21. Sister Chrysostom Moynahan served as the first hospital administrator. Father O'Reilly visited the Provincial House of the Daughters of Charity at Emmitsburg, Maryland to recruit additional staff.

The first hospital building on the present site, 2701 9th Court South, was dedicated on November 29, 1900. It was designed by Thomas Walter III, grandson of the noted architect of the U.S. Capitol's dome, and built for $223,000, most of which was raised by the Daughters of Charity. Sister Chrysotom founded the state's first nursing school at St Vincent's that year. Originally the hospital reserved a third of its 200 beds for indigent patients, with five of those beds maintained at public expense by the City of Birmingham. Only 20 beds were allotted to African-American patients.

By 1908 the institution had served an average of 1,250 to 1,400 patients per year, of which 550-700 were charity cases and 350 were African-American. A separate free medical clinic treated 650 predominantly African-American patients. That year the hospital raised $50,000 to expand its services to include the distribution of clothing and food to the needy. Some of those donations were made solicited at street corners on St Patrick's Day as volunteers pinned small replicas of Ireland's green harp-emblazoned flag to passersby.

In 1917 Sister Chrysostom left Birmingham to lead a group of Daughters of Charity who served overseas as government nurses. She was succeeded by Sister Magdalen as hospital administrator. In 1920 Sister Angela O'Brien took over her duties and began leading a campaign to renovate and upgrade the hospital's facilities, including its first radiography and pathology laboratories.

The city increased its funding as St Vincent's absorbed overflow from Hillman Hospital and cots were added to increase the number of beds for black patients from 20 to 35, but still many were turned away for lack of space. The situation was exacerbated by the closure of a black physician-owned private hospital.

The United States Public Health Service contributed a $500,000 grant-in-aid toward construction of a new 6-story maternity ward and the addition of 90 general use beds in the late 1940s. The new East Wing was completed under the tenure of Sister Lydia Hoffman in 1952.

Additional major buildings were added to the St Vincent's campus beginning in 1974. The massive St Vincent's West Pavilion was completed in June 1981. The $27 million St Vincent's Women's and Children's Center and other improvements followed in 1997. The 6-story OrthoSports Center was completed in 2008.



See also


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