In the late 1800s, a committed and compassionate group of the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia came across the country with just pennies in their pockets. In just 10 months, the nurses opened a 60-bed hospital in Tacoma, treating all patients who came to them seeking care, including those who could not pay. In the 125 years that followed, CHI Franciscan Health’s St. Joseph Medical Center grew in both volume and technology, becoming the state-of-the-art medical center it is today.
In the early days following its 1891 opening, the hospital treated an average of 250 patients per year. Now, the medical center treats thousands of patients and conducts more than 15,000 operations annually. In the early 1900s, the hospital obtained the latest tools and adopted the latest medical techniques, including X-rays, ether anesthesia, and brandy and strychnine injections to stimulate the heart. The medical center now uses technologies such as non-invasive robotic surgery and Gamma Knife radio surgery. It also has a Level III neonatal intensive care unit and an ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) clinic on-site.
In 1940, the hospital opened a 34-bed pediatric unit, growing into the department where 4,200 babies are born each year, which translates to about one baby every other hour.
St. Joseph Medical Center had scheduled a 125th anniversary celebration for October, but it was canceled due to severe weather. Organizers hope to reschedule the celebration for summer 2017. (Tim Pfarr)