Filed Under Healthcare

St. Vincent Charity Hospital

In the wake of the Second Battle of Fredericksburg and the Battle of Chancellorsville in May 1865, Bishop Amadeus Rappe made a proposal to the Cleveland City Council. Bishop Rappe, the first bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, proposed the building of a hospital to care for the streams of wounded soldiers returning to the city. The city council appointed a committee to investigate the proposal, and the committee immediately encountered resistance. Newspaper editorials attacked the idea of a Catholic-run hospital in a city that was nine tenths Protestant. Bishop Rappe made his proposal a second time, and this time he specified that the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine would provide nursing care if the city would provide funding. Despite continued anti-Catholic rhetoric, the Sisters emphasized that they intended to care for patients of all faiths and those who were unable to pay would have their care paid for by the city. Eventually, city council agreed to the proposal and a site was purchased on Perry Street (now East 22nd) for $10,000. Taxpayers paid $42,000 of the $72,000 building cost. On October 5, 1865, St. Vincent Charity Hospital opened its doors.

A century later, St. Vincent undertook a project that for some undermined its relationship to the community. The hospital had outgrown its space, and the only place to expand was into the surrounding low-income neighborhood that city officials had come to see as urban blight without value. St. Vincent greatly expanded its campus in the early 1960s at the same time the city inaugurated the Erieview urban renewal project. Some 1,800 mostly low-income households were displaced over several years to build the Erieview Tower, One Erieview Plaza, and the Federal Building. The hospital campus was almost entirely rebuilt in the St. Vincent Urban Renewal Area. Only 600 of the 1,800 families received public assistance to relocate. The hospital that was created to serve the poor ironically displaced the people it served. Progress and urban renewal were defined as the removal of low-income families.

Although the history of St. Vincent Charity Hospital has not always been rosy, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine have remained committed to providing compassionate medical care to anyone in need regardless of religion or race for 150 years.

Images

Medicare Panel, 1967 Panel viewing Medicare from various angles moderated by Mrs. Mildred Carson (seated). Speakers are: John Cattin (left) of Downtown Social Security Office, Sister M. Marguerite of St. Vincent Charity Hospital, Dr. Robert Kurzbauer and Mrs. Mabel Hill of Aid for the Aged. Source: Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Main Building, 1932 St. Vincent's original building built in 1865. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Expansion, 1962 St. Vincent started a $5,000,000 expansion at the same time Cleveland initiated the Erieview Urban Renewal project. The project added commercial space in the downtown core at the expense of low-income families living in the area who were displaced. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Heart Pump, 1967 Dr. Earle B. Kay (right) of St. Vincent Charity Hospital and Vernon D. Gebben (left), an engineer at NASA's Lewis Research Center, test the control device Gebben designed for St. Vincent's medical research. The controller, worn by Gebben, drives a heart assist pump designed to take some of the work load off a failing heart. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Main Entrance, 1947 Photo of the main entrance of the original main building. It was torn down in the 1962 expansion. Note the architectural detail above the windows. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Architectural Model, 1965 This is an architectural model for the St. Vincent Urban Renewal Area. The expansion of St. Vincent's predates the expansion of the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
New Building, 1965 The new St. Vincent's opened in 1965. It was a grand occasion according to the Cleveland Press. "Cleveland's newest hospital will be opened for a week of public tours starting Sunday. St. Vincent Charity Hospital's ultramodern $5,000,000 building faces E. 22nd St. between Central and Scovill Aves. The gently curved, seven-story structure stands in marked contrast to the modest red brick building whose doors were opened to wounded Civil War solders 100 years ago. Centennial year observances will include formal dedication by Coadjutor Bishop Clarence G. Issenmann Sept. 6 and a civic luncheon and Centennial Ball Oct. 7. Interior decorations and equipping of the new building is being completed this week. Patients will be moved in Aug. 21." Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.
Sister Mary Ignatia, 1957 Sister Mary Ignatia, C.S.A (1889-1996) was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. Sister Ignatia was the registrar at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron when she began her work with alcoholics. In 1952 she helped found Rosary Hall at St. Vincent Charity Hospital which was dedicated to the treatment of alcoholics. Image Courtesy of Cleveland State University. Michael Schwartz Library. Special Collections.

Location

2351 E 22nd St, Cleveland, OH 44115

Metadata

Sarah Kasper, “St. Vincent Charity Hospital,” Cleveland Historical, accessed October 4, 2022, https://clevelandhistorical.org/items/show/624.