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St. Vincent Hospital: 135 years of serving Green Bay

St. Vincent Hospital
About seven years after the original facility’s opening, the current Webster Avenue hospital was built after the four sisters bought the plot of land for around $27,000 – about $950,000 today. St. Vincent Hospital photo

By Josephine Hinderman

Contributing Writer

GREEN BAY – This year, HSHS St. Vincent Hospital celebrates 135 years of serving the Green Bay community.

Those 135 years are rooted deeply in a history of community, compassion and dedication to providing holistic care.

This history starts back in 1888 when four sisters from the Third Order of St. Francis traveled north from Illinois, after receiving an invitation from Bishop Frederick Katzer, to open Green Bay’s first hospital — a 23-room facility equipped with a single chair, four beds and a cooking stove on Quincy Street.

“They came in response to a need to provide healthcare here, and it’s a thing that we’ve carried on throughout the generations,” said Mary Salm, vice president of Mission and Spiritual Care for HSHS hospitals in Wisconsin. “The connection to the mission has always been strong, and we are carrying that forward.”

About seven years after the facility’s opening, the current Webster Avenue hospital was built after the four sisters bought the plot of land for around $27,000 – about $950,000 today.

Salm said that the hospital continued to expand in order to fit the growing needs of the community.

The hospital added a surgical and laboratory department and an x-ray machine by 1915, and began providing physiotherapy by the 1930s.

It wasn’t until 1957 that the St. Vincent Hospital, as we know it today, opened to the public — now functioning with 437 beds.

By 1969, the building’s intensive care unit was opened, including the NICU, the first program of its kind in the area that was capable of providing care to critically-ill newborns.

It became the first, and only, children’s hospital in Green Bay.

In 1975, the perinatal center was instituted to care for those with high-risk pregnancies.

A respective rehabilitation and dialysis center were opened in 1980, which included a housing center for the latter.

The hospital later made new cardiovascular-related additions, including a cardiac catherization lab in 2004 and a heart center, which offered cardiothoratic surgery suites and a cardiovascular care unit that provided various health services, in 2006.

St. Vincent Hospital has maintained a designated Level II Trauma center for the past 25 years, providing a 24-hour trauma and neurosurgical care, which includes coverage for services such as emergency medicine, critical care, anesthesiology, orthopedic surgery and radiology.

The hospital provides both physical and spiritual care to its patients.

“I think that what sets us apart from other hospitals in the area is the dedication to spiritual care that we offer to our patients, and the holistic care we provide,” Salm said.

“You oftentimes see that some patients feel more satisfied with their care when they have that empathetic listening — that active listening — and that offering of spiritual care and prayers. Patients want physicians to understand how their beliefs affect how they’re feeling. Religion and spiritualism is a big part of who some of these patients are, so providing spiritual care is important to us.”

Almost 140 years later, the hospital remains a strong part of Green Bay, strengthening the bond between community and healthcare and providing the compassion first inspired by the Franciscan sisters when they came up to this area, bringing with them a determined commitment to help people.

Hospital Sisters Healthcare System (HSHS) is a multi-institutional healthcare system that now provides services to 14 communities throughout Illinois and Wisconsin, in an effort to fulfill their mission of providing holistic care to the communities that they serve.

“It truly takes an incredible amount of care, love, commitment and compassion and strength to work in health care,” Salm added.

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