Heritage and History
The health care ministry of St. Joseph Health System embodies a powerful legacy of caring. The ministry of St. Joseph Health System traces the roots of its mission from God's creation of Mother Earth, through the life and healing ministry of Jesus, the inspiration of St. Francis of Assisi, the dedicated sponsorship of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania, Ohio, the early leadership of Mother Adelaide, the diligent guidance of the Franciscan Services Corporation and the reverence, stewardship and service of the Board of Trustees, administrators, managers and caregivers of St. Joseph Health System and its supporting agencies. As the major medical referral center for the 12-county Brazos Valley area, St. Joseph Health System has consistently responded to the community's medical needs by providing comprehensive, quality health care in a Christian atmosphere.
In 1912, under the ownership of Dr. W.H. Oliver, construction was begun on the original building, known as "Bryan Hospital," near downtown Bryan. The three-story brick building had a capacity of 25 beds and six bassinets when it opened in 1913. From its opening until 1933, it was operated by Dr. W.H. Oliver. After his death in 1933, Bryan Hospital was closed for almost a year.
Bryan Hospital was reopened in 1934 under the management of Drs. R.B. Ehlinger and R.B. Grant, who had purchased the hospital from the Oliver estate. After managing the hospital for about a year, the two doctors decided that it could be more efficiently maintained by a group of Sisters. The Sisters of St. Francis had already established themselves in Brenham, and word of the Bryan doctors' interest reached them. Sister M. Wilfreda, who was administrator of St. Francis Hospital in Brenham, visited Bryan Hospital and together with Msgr. John Gleissner, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Bryan, approached Venerable Mother Adelaide to consider staffing the hospital. Without hesitation, Mother Adelaide assured Drs. Grant and Ehlinger that she would send Sisters to operate Bryan Hospital.
Thus, in 1935, Bryan Hospital was leased to the Sisters for an initial period of one year. Under terms of the agreement, at the end of the first year, the Sisters had the option to renew the lease or purchase the hospital. Sister M. Seraphia served as the hospital's first administrator.
The first year that the Sisters assumed responsibility for Bryan Hospital proved a difficult one, and there was considerable discussion as to whether or not the Sisters would remain. Msgr. Gleissner proved to be an effective champion for the Bryan community and convinced Mother Adelaide to purchase the building.
The Sisters purchased the building in 1936 and the facility was renamed "St. Joseph Hospital." Immediate improvements included the purchase of new beds and furniture. Obsolete surgical equipment was replaced and the kitchen was completely re-equipped.
Perhaps the most unique feature of the hospital during this period was its "human elevator," a handyman named Walter Hollins who counted among his daily duties carrying patients up and down the hospital's two flights of stairs. Installation of a new 23-passenger Otis elevator alleviated Mr. Hollins of this responsibility in 1940. He continued to serve the hospital in various capacities including orderly, janitor, scrub nurse and general maintenance man for many years.
Each succeeding year saw occupancy increase steadily. By 1947, it was necessary to build a Sisters' residence so that their rooms in the hospital could be used for patients.
By 1950, Administrator Sister Sebastian was convinced that more beds were needed. An expansion program to meet that goal was among the first projects of the newly formed Lay Advisory Board.
On April 4, 1953, groundbreaking ceremonies were held and construction began on a new wing, which would provide 60 additional beds.
The completed three-story addition was dedicated in the presence of Venerable Mother M. Adelaide on her eightieth birthday, October 10, 1954. Only the second floor of the original building remained for patient use. Its first floor was remodeled several times in the intervening years to increase office space, provide a drug room, libraries, sewing room, chapel, and storage. The third floor of the now "old Wing" was used exclusively for storage.
St. Joseph Hospital received its first Accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in 1961.
In 1963, a new wing was added to the Sisters' home, increasing the number of bedrooms by five. That year also saw the first full-time radiologist added to the hospital staff. Until then, a part-time radiologist traveled from Austin to Bryan one afternoon each week to interpret x-rays.
A full-time pathologist joined the medical staff in 1964, greatly enhancing the hospital's ability to serve the community's medical needs. Until then, all surgical specimens were sent to pathologists in Austin for examination.
In February 1966, the Sisters of St. Francis and the Lay Advisory Board of St. Joseph Hospital debated whether to expand the existing facility or build a new hospital to meet the needs of the growing communities. It was soon determined that an expansion and renovation of the existing hospital would afford only limited growth with severe deficiency in operations. The debate was ended and the decision was made to build a new hospital.
Guided by Administrator Sister Mary Patricia and the hospital Governing Board, it was decided to relocate the hospital to the new "medical complex" being developed by local physicians on Villa Maria Road. Doctors Makin L. Jones, Tom B. King, William B. Roman, Ernest A. Elmendorf and Henry C. McQuaide donated 3.5 acres to the sisters for the hospital, with the sisters purchasing the remainder of the nine acre tract.
Studies indicated that the existing 106 beds would need to be nearly doubled by 1970 to meet the area's growing hospital needs. The study further found that an additional 100 beds would be needed by 1978. Ultimately, a three-phase Master Plan was developed that would yield a 300-bed hospital.
First phase construction was budgeted at $3.5 million, with the Sisters of St. Francis allocating $2.5 million and Hill-Burton grant funds contributing the remaining $1 million. Phase I included construction of an "H" shaped three-story 125,000 square foot building. By design, office and support space was limited to one-third the total available space in the new facility. Phase I included 96 beds plus a nursery for 20 bassinets. One innovative element of the design called for the hospital to be constructed around four "team nursing units," a decision based on the goal of putting nurses back with the patients instead of performing administrative duties as had become common in conventional hospitals of the time.
In April 1971, St. Joseph Hospital moved from its home of nearly four decades to its present facility on Franciscan Drive. With three stories and 148 beds, the new St. Joseph Hospital represented a major step forward for the local medical community. For the next decade, this facility was able to meet the needs of our community.
With changing medical and scientific technology and growth in the community, the hospital faced another expansion effort in the early 1980's.The first area of the hospital where expansion was needed was the nursery. The 20-bassinet nursery was becoming inadequate to handle the 1,500 to 2,000 births per year. Plans were drawn up in 1980 to expand obstetric services. At the same time, other needs became apparent and the expansion was broadened to include other services areas.
On December 12, 1982, ground was broken for an $8.4 million expansion. During this effort, 48 patient care beds were added and Radiology, I.C.U., Nursery, Labor & Delivery, Laboratory, Surgery and Emergency Services were enlarged. Virtually every department in the hospital benefited from this expansion and renovation.
The Emergency Department was expanded to more than twice its original size. St. Joseph's Emergency Department is the major medical referral center for the seven-county Brazos Valley area. It was staffed, equipped and furnished to handle and treat all major and minor conditions that have historically existed in the area.
Expansion in the Radiology and Laboratory Departments included increased space for offices, storage and support services. The Intensive Care Unit was increased from three to ten beds, including four beds especially designed for isolation.
The Nursery, Labor & Delivery and Postpartum units were consolidated into a single area on the third floor. The Nursery was doubled in size to 40 bassinets, including 12 special care, 27 general care and one isolation bassinet.
During the expansion project, three waiting areas were added, one each outside Intensive Care, Labor & Delivery and the Surgery Units. The project also included a general facelift to refurbish rooms, corridors and public areas.
In 1984, the Board of Trustees approved major improvements to the hospital's Radiology Services. This necessitated the hospital's first capital campaign since 1949. Funds from Project '85 were used to provide updated radiological equipment, a Computerized Axial Tomography (CAT) Suite, and expanded capacity for the department.
In July 1986, Ophthalmology services were introduced with the purchase of an Ophthalmology Laser and a SITE system used exclusively for intraocular surgery. Laboratory services were also greatly expanded.
The hospital's next major step occurred in 1987, when St. Joseph's growing role in overall health care was recognized by expanding the hospital's name to St. Joseph Hospital & Health Center.
At this time, the Women's Imaging Center was also added to provide self-referral mammography at an affordable price. This effort included a major educational component to teach breast self-examination and increase awareness of early detection.
After extensive research, planning and the investment of $4.2 million, St. Joseph Hospital & Health Center became the first hospital in the area to offer comprehensive cardiac services. Phase I of this specialized cardiac care program was the renovation of the med-coronary wing to include six private rooms for cardiac intensive patients and an 11-bed "Step Down" Unit designed for patients who no longer require intensive care, but are not yet ready for the general acute care of a regular nursing unit.
Phase II, completed in July 1987, was the construction of a $1.7 million Dedicated Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory - the only one of its kind within a 90-mile radius. This lab houses the most sophisticated imaging technology available, including computerized physiological monitoring and associated equipment with bi-plane diagnostic imaging.
Phase III of the cardiac program was the renovation and conversion of six Outpatient private rooms into a cardiac surgical suite. Staffed by a highly trained team of nurses, technicians and four cardiovascular surgeons, this area includes nearly $400,000 in the latest open-heart surgical equipment.
Other improvements, such as an expanded cardiac health education effort, additional private rooms for the unit, and a new three-bed recovery area, were added during Phase IV of the project.
By the last quarter of 1987, an unused wing was converted into a Skilled Nursing Facility, which provided nursing/rehabilitative/dietary services and standard personal care on a 24-hour basis. Patients were transferred into this 16-bed unit for transitional care before returning home or going into a long-term facility. In 1987, Alliance Health Providers of the Brazos Valley, a preferred provider organization was introduced.
The St. Joseph Gold Medallion Club seniors program was introduced in 1988 to provide activities and educational programs for area seniors.
In 1989, senior hospital administrators and the Board of Trustees announced a major renovation and expansion effort. Project '90-'92, designed to meet the Brazos Valley's health care needs into the 1990's. Also in 1989 was the addition of an in-house Magnetic Resonance Imager (MRI).
In 1990, St. Joseph Hospital & Health Center became one of the first smoke-free facilities and laproscopic cholecystectomy was introduced.
Project '90-'92 Phase I was completed in 1991 with the opening of 66,000 square feet of new construction.
1992 saw Project '90-92' Phase II completed and the hospital's first sleep disorder laboratory opened. A four-story professional wing was also added during this phase and major renovations were made to the facility. St. Joseph Hospital was now accredited for 204 beds.
As a symbol of the growth and expansion of St. Joseph Hospital & Health Center the name was changed to St. Joseph Regional Health Center in 1994 and construction was begun on St. Joseph Professional Building next door on 29th Street.
In 1995, Brazos Valley Cancer Center adjacent to the hospital on Villa Maria was purchased and the name changed to St. Joseph Regional Cancer Center. A $5.3 million expansion of the Cancer Center was started to include a new linear accelerator and simulator. Not too far away, 21 acres was purchased on Villa Maria and 29th Street for future development and expansion. The Caldwell hospital was leased and the name changed to Burleson St. Joseph Health Center, Normangee St. Joseph Clinic was built in Normangee and Madison County Hospital was purchased and renamed St. Francis Health Center.
The Professional Office Building was completed in 1996 and dedicated. A time capsule was buried for posterity. Construction was begun to expand St. Joseph Regional Cancer Center, Burleson St. Joseph Health Center was dedicated, St. Francis Health Center was dedicated and Navisota Hospital was purchased and renamed Grimes St. Joseph Health Center.
The 1997 expansion of St. Joseph Regional Health Center included Imaging Services and Surgery as well as the introduction of Express Care in Emergency Services and the fifth Labor/Delivery Suite. St. Joseph Behavioral Health expanded its services, the Shots for Tots program was initiated, the Family Practice Residency program began, and the Sister's convent was demolished in order to increase parking options. The new open-sided MRI became available, St. Joseph Regional Rehabilitation Center construction was completed and opened, and the skilled nursing unit was moved to the new rehab center. Anniversaries included the 5th anniversary of the sleep lab and the 10th anniversaries of St. Joseph Services Corporation, Cardiac Services and Alliance Health Providers.
In 1998 St. Joseph Services Corporation became known as St. Joseph Health System. To be more easily recognized as part of the St. Joseph family, St. Francis Health Center in Madisonville changed its name to Madison St. Joseph Health Center. A six-story parking garage was constructed and opened adjacent to St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan and the bed licenses and site were purchased for a nursing home to be constructed in Caldwell. The ground breaking for Burleson St. Joseph Manor occurred at the new site on October 9, 1998. Construction was begun on St. Joseph Manor on the St. Joseph Oaks campus in Bryan. 1998 was the 10th anniversary of the Gold Medallion Club.
St. Joseph Health System expanded its ministry as it opens both St. Joseph Manor and Burleson St. Joseph Manor in June of 1999. St. Joseph Manor in Bryan offered Assisted Living, and intermediate nursing unit and an Alzheimer's unit. Burleson St. Joseph, located just east of Caldwell, was a 96-bed intermediate nursing care facility. Caldwell St. Joseph Health Center was designated as a Critical Access Hospital. St. Joseph Regional Health Center dedicated a third cardiac Catheterization lab, expanded cardiac services to meet growing community needs. SJRHC also opened a 10-bed behavioral health unit at Grimes St. Joseph Health Center in Navasota, offering the only inpatient behavioral health crisis stabilization services in the region.
Following on the success of the BSJHC's designation as a Critical Access Hospital, Madison St. Joseph Health Center and then Grimes St. Joseph Health Center applied and were designated as CAH facilities, greatly improving reimbursements.Grimes St. Joseph Health Center remodeled their emergency Room and dedicated a 9-bed skilled nursing unit to provide support for local residents. Madison St. Joseph Health Center was the first of the rural health facilities to have its Emergency services department certified as a Level IV Trauma Center. SJRHC added Two high-speed CT scanners at a cost of $1.2 million as part of an overall upgrading to imaging services. The hospital announces a renovation program to encompass every patient room and all public areas. St. Joseph Regional Rehabilitation Center receives CARF accreditation.
2001 marked a year in which a variety of SJHS program and facilities were recognized for their excellence. Early in the year Madison St. Joseph and Grimes St. Joseph Health Centers received their Critical Access Hospital designations. In February, St. Joseph Regional Health Center announced it was signing an agreement to offer the M.D. Anderson Cancer Manager program to a 17-county region of the Brazos Valley.
The Emergency Services Department of SJRHC received notification that they had been designated as a Level III Trauma Center, the first level III Center in the 7-county region. SJRHC also completed a new lobby renovation, which was the first phase of an overall facility renovation project, which would remodel every patient room. The Center dedicate a new 11-bed inpatient care unit design specifically for the care of cancer patients, and renovated the basement to accommodate EEG, EKG, Wound Care and Hyperbaric Services.
Burleson St. Joseph Health Center had its first-ever community fundraising event, raising more than $92,000 toward the renovation and expansion of the Emergency Services Department.
Following more than a year of planning, St. Joseph Regional Health Center broke ground on a 4-story tower addition that will add a new 36-bed critical care unit, a 36-bed med surg unit and a new outpatient services area on the first floor. The fourth floor of the facility is to be left as shell space for future growth. The tower is designed so that a 5th and 6th floor may be added at a later time. The design of the building incorporates concepts that help promote healing in patients, such as more natural light in every patient room, soft colors and natural textures, a water feature and artwork. The project will be completed in the Summer of 2004.
The SJRHC Center for Sleep Medicine moved into a new facility, expanding the number of sleep study beds to four. St. Joseph Regional Rehabilitation Center opened a Pulmonary Rehabilitation program to better meet the needs to residents with breathing problems/disorders.
St. Joseph Manor and Burleson St. Joseph Manor increased their resident capacity through renovations that provided semi-private suites in each facility. St. Joseph Manor added 6 resident beds in their intermediate care unit and 3 beds in the Alzheimer's unit to bring the total number of beds to 125. At Burleson St. Joseph Manor, renovation was completed to bring 16 additional semi-private beds into service.
The Emergency Rooms at Madison St. Joseph and Burleson St. Joseph Health Centers continued renovation projects to improve privacy and enhance the service available to patients requiring emergency services. Both facilities conducted golf tournaments to raise funds to help pay for the renovations.
St. Joseph Health System implemented a new Guest service program known as St. Joseph Traditions, aimed at improving satisfaction among patients and guests. The program is based on the core values of Reverence, Service and Stewardship and uses a service delivery model learned from the Disney Institute. In the Fall of the year, SJRHC was given the first-ever Leonard L. Berry Service Excellence Award, a community-wide award recognizing outstanding service to customers.