1914 - A Hospital Is Born
On February 17, 1914 Saint Francis Hospital accepted its first official patient, Theodore Bromley, of 106 1/2 North Clinton Street, Poughkeepsie. The new hospital contained 40 beds and treated 751 patients in its first year.
The physicians enlisted the help of Msgr. Joseph Sheahan, pastor of St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church to approach John Cardinal Farley of New York to secure nursing sisters to establish the hospital. The Sisters of Saint Francis of Hastings of the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin from Hastings on Hudson responded to the request and sent Mother Sebastian and Sister M. Michael to Poughkeepsie for that purpose. The original hospital was the large home of Mayor Daniel Webster Wilbur. With only five dollars and the assistance of Catholic women’s organizations (which made the linens), the Sisters of Saint Francis began a 97 year legacy of commitment to the health needs of the community. Over 100 Sisters have ministered at the hospital, 35 of whom were administrators. In 1914, a school of nursing was opened and trained hundreds. The school remained open until 1970.
1916 - Progress Continues
The first few years were a time of both growth and struggle for the new hospital. In 1916 and again in 1919, fires heavily damaged buildings. An influenza epidemic in 1918 brought hundreds of patients to Saint Francis, and as many as 300 people were treated without charge that year. "There were many days...when affairs looked very black indeed, and when by only the most stringent economy were we able to keep our institution open," wrote a hospital historian in 1922. It was in 1919 that a committee of local citizens launched a major funding drive for Saint Francis Hospital, which after only five years in operation, was in need of larger, more modern facilities. Despite the national war debt, nearly $100,000 was gathered. Even as fundraising proceeded, the hospital was growing, with ten beds added in 1920 thanks to an $18,000 gift from local banker Oakleigh T. Thorne.
1920s-1980s - Expansion Through The Decades
In 1921, the hospital board approved construction of a new main building, a four-story brick structure that would include, among other things, three large operating rooms, one dedicated to eye, ear, nose, and throat surgery; private and semiprivate rooms; a 12-bed men's ward; and a 12-bed women's ward. When the unit opened the following year, there was one more grand touch: a subway connecting the hospital's buildings, thanks to a $20,000 donation provided by Archbishop Patrick Hayes.
In 1924, the new Roosevelt main building was opened, replacing the original mansion and providing 60 beds for patients. In 1951, the Oakleigh T. Thorne and Joseph T. Tower wings were dedicated, more than doubling the size of the hospital at a cost of $2.3 million. In 1959, the Spellman Pavilion was added, and Mass was celebrated in the new chapel for the first time. With the 1977 dedication of the Neumann Wing, followed by the 1982 construction of the Cooke Pavilion, rapid expansion continued at the hospital.
1980s - More Community Additions
In 1985, Saint Francis Hospital acquired the former Highland Hospital in Beacon to serve as The Turning Point, a 100-bed inpatient and outpatient alcohol and chemical dependency treatment center (which is now located in Poughkeepsie at 241 North Road). The Beacon campus still currently serves as a home to the Panichi Family Center for Communication and Learning which houses the only hospital-based special needs preschool program in Dutchess County.
In 1987, the hospital expanded to include home care services, and the following year, Saint Francis established a day care program in the Convent that eventually expanded to a second, larger site in Spackenkill.
1990s - Major Momentum
In 1990, what was then a state-of-the-art three-dimensional, high-speed helical CAT Scan system was acquired, and the hospital became the first in the area to own and operate its own MRI unit. In 1991, Saint Francis opened the Sleep Disorders Lab, which in 2003 received a five year accreditation and designation as a Sleep Center.
In 1992, Saint Francis Hospital adopted a "CREST of Values" to serve as the guiding principles for each individual who shares in our mission. Each member of the Saint Francis team works individually and collaboratively to make our values of Creativity, Respect, Excellence, Service and Teamwork present in dealings with each other and those we are privileged to serve. It is important to note here, that Crest of values originally noted C was for creativity. However it was soon changed to compassion, in keeping with the Catholic/Franciscan heritage.
To recognize its work as a leader in orthopedics, the hospital established the Orthopedic Center of Excellence in 1993, and today offers the only fully-dedicated joint replacement center in the region. Also in 1993, Saint Francis Hospital was designated as the 'Area Trauma Center' by the New York State Department of Health. It was recognized as the busiest Level II trauma center in New York State in 2004.
In 1995, a $5 million capital drive began to expand trauma and emergency facilities and create the George T. Whalen Family Trauma Center, as well as to upgrade patient monitoring systems in the emergency and pperating rooms. Additionally, the endoscopy suite and same day surgery center were added, the latter of which would be named for legendary philanthropist James J. McCann. Mair Way -- the hospital's central passageway connecting The Atrium to the main hospital building – was named for benefactors Peg and Bill Mair, who left the Saint Francis a major bequest of $1 million that was included in this campaign.
Responding to requests from physicians who wanted to locate their offices close to the hospital, the Medical Office Building at 243 North Road opened in 1998. Two years later The Atrium at Saint Francis Hospital – a 150,000 sq. ft. facility – opened featuring a new state-of-the-art ambulatory surgery center, diagnostic imaging center, community conference center, cafeteria, and private physician offices.
2000s-2014 - Keeping The Promise
On March 17, 2002, Saint Francis Hospital suffered the loss of its President Emeritus, Sister Ann Elizabeth, at age 91. She was an integral part of the hospital and its guiding light for almost 70 years, holding leadership positions in the School of Nursing and the hospital. Sister Ann served as Administrator and President of Saint Francis Hospital from 1962 until her retirement in 2001. In recognition of her extraordinary service, the Atrium Surgery Center was dedicated to Sister Ann in 2001.
The Saint Francis Hospital Cancer Center opened in 2002, followed by the dedication of the Father Brinn Center for Psychiatric Care in the Emergency Care Center in 2003.
Despite economic turbulence in the mid-2000s, the Sisters of Saint Francis continued to be present and look forward with the entire Saint Francis Hospital team to upholding a noble legacy, and fulfilling one complete century of service to the Hudson Valley in 2014.
Present Day - Advancing Care. Here.
In May 2014, Saint Francis Hospital and Health Center officially became MidHudson Regional Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. This relationship has led to millions of dollars in technological and facilities investments, the recruitment of world-class physicians to practice right here in Poughkeepsie, expanded services and collaboration with other Hudson Valley centers of excellence, the rejuvenation of one of Dutchess County's main economic engines, and the foundation to advance care for the former Saint Francis' next 100 years.