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St. Joseph Medical Center (Penn State Health St. Joseph)

1873-2015

An article appeared in the Reading Eagle, dated August 26, 1873. It follows; –

St. Joseph Hospital – This institution, located in Walnut Street above Twelfth, formerly Volleys’ property, is now open and ready for the reception of all classes of patients, rich or poor, and of whatever sex, nationality or faith. Cases of accident will be admitted on application at the Hospital. All other cases must obtain a permit from Father Bornemann, Dr. M. Luther or the attending medical staff. Persons who are able to pay will be charged only at the absolute cost of boarding. Poor out-door patients will be prescribe for and furnished with medicine gratuitously on days to be hereafter designated. The Hospital is supplied with a corps of skillful and experienced female nurses, and medical attendants.”

At the expiration of the three days required by law for an advertisement of intent, St. Joseph Hospital opened its door to all regardless of race, color or creed. There was no fanfare in that long ago day, no “cutting of the traditional ribbon”, just the simple, charitable offering of its services to the poor, the sick and the injured.

From that day in 1873 to the present day, the Philosophy and the Objectives of St. Joseph Hospital have had as their goal – – loving service to those in need.

History Timeline

1873

1873

One hundred years ago, 1873, there was no Hospital, strictly speaking, in the City of Reading. The present Reading Hospital was operating a dispensary downtown but was not accepting inpatients. It was becoming evident to every eon that a Hospital..Read more

1882

1882

Again, there was seen a need for more Hospital space and in 1882, the Medical Board made a plea for a larger Hospital. The City was growing as were increased demands upon the Hospital and an appeal was made to..Read more

1885

1885

During this period 1885, a legacy of Forty Thousand Dollars was bequeathed by Mr. Francis A. Drexel of firm of Drexels, Morgan and Company. Mr. Drexel’s death was mourned not only by his family and friends but by the many..Read more

1893

1893

The dreaded epidemic of smallpox during the year of 1893 put a severe tax on the facilities of the Hospital and Msgr. Bornemann, ever wise and solicitous for those needing health care, assisted the Hospital in every way during what..Read more

1895

1895

One of the important events in the history of the Hospital was that on September 27, 1895, the Deed to St. Joseph Hospital of Reading, Pennsylvania was given to the Sisters of St. Francis for the cost of $1.00 by..Read more

1897

1897

St. Joseph Hospital was incorporated by the State of Pennsylvania in 1897. The twelve petitioners, all laymen, formed the first official Board of Trustees. Their names will be found in the section marked “Board of Directors.” They are as follows:..Read more

1900

1900

In the early 1900’s (exact year not recorded) tragedy struck in St. Joseph Hospital. A man, badly burned when the shack in which he was living, burned to the ground, was admitted to the Hospital. The patient recovered from the..Read more

1902

1902

The State of Pennsylvania in 1902 appropriated a Grant to St. Joseph Hospital of #2,000 a year, the first time in the history of St. Joseph Hospital. Not only was the money needed and well administered but it was a..Read more

1905

1905

The cost, $60,000 in 1905 was no mean figure, even according to today’s standards. Its construction and furnishings were “up to the minute” of the period and the education of the nurses kept pace with the curriculum. The School, as..Read more

1906

1906

The Annex, so-called, enabled the Hospital to increase the number of public ward beds, infant and children’s departments, with private rooms in the Maternity Department. There are still citizens of Reading who were born in the Annex. The Nurses’ Residence,..Read more

1909

1909

The School of Nursing was steadily advancing and in 1909 it numbered among its graduates Sisters M. Achilla, Anata, Imelda, Philiberta, Paulette and three lay nurses. In 1911, Sister M. Concepta received her “certificate” as it was called then. The..Read more

1914

1914

A Neurological Department was opened. Changes were made in department areas. The X-ray department was moved to the front of the Hospital, the Pathological Department to the second floor with Dr. Elmer McKee in charge of the latter department. It..Read more

1915

1915

Financial stress was relieved in 1915 as the Berks County Commission allocated to the Hospital Six Hundred and Fifty Dollars a year. This was the first time in the history of the Hospital that this had been done. This seemed..Read more

1917

1917

In this year, the formation of the “Ladies Auxiliary” was begun. Long years ago, there had been an Auxiliary, the President of which was Mrs. Joseph Kremp, aunt of Miss Mary Heizmann of the well-known Heizmann family of Fifth Street...Read more

1918

1918

In 1918, many of the doctors left to serve their country. The loss of these doctors reduced the staff and put an added burden on those remaining, but they, as well as the Sisters, were willing to make this sacrifice..Read more

1921

1921

The withdrawal of State Aid in 1921 worked a hardship on the Hospital, but new equipment and much repair work inside and outside the building was needed. The Board of Trustees felt that a Drive, not for maintenance, but for..Read more

1923

1923

1923 marked the half century that St. Joseph’s had served the public. Statistics make dry reading, but a few will point up the changes in the fifty years since 1873. From the small “hospital on the hill” of twelve beds,..Read more

1926

1926

Sunday, June 13, 1926, the New Wing, as it was called, was dedicated in a most impressive ceremony by His Eminence Cardinal Dennis Dougherty. The presiding officer at the dedication was Wellington M. Bertolet, President of the Board of Trustees...Read more

1933

1933

In spite of the lack of funds, the utmost economy and good management made it possible to purchase equipment and provide some very badly needed repairs. In 1933, the Country was still feeling the effects of the Depression years –..Read more

1936

1936

Many people remember the blizzard of January 1936. Some people in the Hospital had reason to remember it. On that stormy night, a call came to the Hospital to send an ambulance for a maternity patient out in the suburbs...Read more

1937

1937

In 1937, a very new important piece of equipment was donated to the Hospital, but the donor wished to remain anonymous. This new invention was called an electro-cardiac and stethograph; it is used on patients with heart conditions. Too lengthy..Read more

1939

1939

The years slipped by with their everyday problems and solutions. One of the outstanding events was the visit of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt, President of the United States. A lecture given by Mrs. Roosevelt was sponsored..Read more

1940

1940

With the unrest in Europe, Reading, like other cities in the United States, was quietly making plans for defense in the event that we became involved – and we did become drastically involved on December 7, 1941 – “That day..Read more

1944

1944

In 1944, the United States was still involved in World War II and Sister Mary Gertrude saw many of our Doctors and Nurses leave to serve their Country. Despite shortages on manpower, material goods, etc., the Hospital went on quietly..Read more

1945

1945

In 1945, there were proposals made by the Community Chest Committee to merge the Community General Hospital and the Reading Hospital (but not St. Joseph Hospital) and concentrate construction at West Reading for the next five years. The physicians of..Read more

1946

1946

Sister M. Joanilla, who succeeded Sister M. Laurencita as Director of the School of Nursing, was pleased to hear that there were plans for an expansion to the Nurses’ Residence. Sister reported that although entrance for the Fall Class was..Read more

1948

1948

Doctor Paul Craig announced that he was eligible for the establishing o f a Residency in Ophthalmology. The Residency would be given to Doctor Craig, not the Hospital, as it would include work for the Resident in the other two..Read more

1950

1950

In July, 1950, Doctor Robert R. Impink, on behalf of the Planning and building Committee, wrote to several firms of architects requesting them to make a survey of our needs for a nurses’ residence and a hospital; among these was..Read more

1951

1951

The year 1951 opened on an encouraging note for the Hospital. On a visit to the Department of Welfare, Judge H. Robert Mays, Messrs. Raymond Wenger and Harold Staudt, together with the Administrator, were told by Mr. Craig Fluent that..Read more

1953

1953

The completion date for the Nurses’ Residence had been promised for March 1953. Strikes, shortage of steel, etc. had held back all building operations in Reading. At the February Board meeting, the contractors asked for, and were given, ninety days..Read more

1954

1954

January, 1954, plans were maturing for another wing to be added to the hospital, extending from Twelfth and Walnut Streets northward. The new wing would be the continuation of a long range plan for future expansion of the hospital. Many..Read more

1955

1955

1955 was the 100th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Foundation of the Sisters of St. Francis of which the Sisters of St. Joseph Hospital are members. This branch of the Franciscan Order was founded by Mother Francis Beckman of Philadelphia in..Read more

1956

1956

The Board approved a plan to serve Kosher food to Jewish patient who would desire it. This service was the first to be offered by the hospitals of Berks County. St. Joseph Hospital was happy to cooperate with the Jewish..Read more

1958

1958

The cornerstone was blessed on March 22, 1958. The Most Reverend Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, Auxiliary Bishop of Philadelphia, placed the cornerstone in position after the invocation given by the Hospital Chaplain, Reverend John Gallagher. Bishop McCormick put the first..Read more

1959

1959

Plans were under way to make extensive renovation in the older part of the hospital at an approximate cost of $300,000. The former Operating Rooms were to be converted into bedrooms and the former Emergency Rooms, clinic and heart department..Read more

1960

1960

The Sisters had the pleasure of having as a guest the famous German Singer, Baroness Von Trapp, the charming mother of the family of singers known the world over for their musical production, “The Sound of Music.” The Baroness gave..Read more

1961

1961

Two departmental schools were started in 1961, a school for students in anesthesia and one for the teaching of X-Ray technicians. These schools were a distinct asset to the hospital as it was a great advantage to be able to..Read more

1962

1962

Renewal of the accreditation by the National League for Nursing was granted the School of Nursing again this year. A unique instrument, a microscope for delicate ear surgery, was put to use this year. The West German microscope was described..Read more

1964

1964

Renovations were continued throughout the hospital in 1964. The old Surgical Ward was converted in a conference room for doctors, seating approximately 72 persons. With its own visual aids and projectors, it was ideal for lectures and conferences, adjacent to..Read more

1967

1967

The fund raising campaign of 1967 got off to a good start, the goal being $1,500,000. The Women’s Board of the Combined Auxiliaries pledged $100,000 and no one doubted they would success in their efforts. They were a wonderful, enthusiastic..Read more

1968

1968

In 1968, with the approval of the Pennsylvania State Board of Nurses’ Examiners, St. Joseph Hospital School of Nursing shortened its nursing program from thirty-six to thirty-three months. This revision would go into effect June 3, 1969. The graduates of..Read more

1969

1969

A program for the training of Medical Technologists was initiated in the latter part of 1969. It was sponsored by Alvernia College, St. Joseph and Reading Hospitals. Dr. George Desjardins, St. Joseph Hospital Director of Laboratories, stated that students would..Read more

1970

1970

Bids went out in January 1970 for the latest addition to the hospital. The bids were opened March 10, general construction being awarded to the Potteiger Company of Reading. Lowest bids on electrical work, etc., were accepted. The first of..Read more

1971

1971

The hospital purchased a mechanical ventilator known as the “Drager Spiromat 661.” The machine was used to ventilate infants and children who would have respiratory distress. The Pediatrics Department was very pleased with the piece of equipment.

1972

1972

The latest addition to the Hospital, the North Wing, was dedicated February 6, 1972.

1973

1973

The history of St. Joseph Hospital enters into its One Hundredth Year of continuous service to the people of Reading and Berks County.

1980

1980

St. Joe’s became a member of Franciscan Health System.

1996

1996

St. Joe’s became a member of Catholic Health Initiatives and relocates to state-of-the-art building on Bern Campus where the current hospital resides today.

1997

1997

Acquires Reading Community General Hospital at 6th and Walnut which is currently Penn State Health St. Joseph Downtown Campus.

2015

2015

St. Joseph Regional Health Network is acquired by the newly created Penn State Health, and becomes the first hospital in the organization and is now known as Penn State Health St. Joseph.