In 1928, San Bernardino was a rapidly expanding community, with little access to quality medical facilities. It was then that Dr. Philip Savage, a well-respected and highly-credentialed local surgeon, approached Father Patrick Dunn, pastor of St. Bernardine Catholic Church, with his dream for a first-class hospital. He had personally experienced the level of care and compassion provided by the Franciscan Sisters who operated the Catholic St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. That level of care - for body, mind and spirit - was Dr. Savage's vision for San Bernardino.
With the support of Father Dunn, Dr. Savage approached Mother Mary Placidus, Superior General of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Houston, Texas with a dream: to build a hospital that would care for a community in need.
On October 10, 1931, California Governor James J. Rolph laid the cornerstone of the new hospital and convent. It was named to honor Bernardino Albizeschi, an Italian who exhibited exceptional courage and compassion during the plague of 1400 which killed thousands and later earned him the title "Saint Bernardine."
St. Bernardine, Then and Now
The original hospital was 125 beds. It included five surgery rooms, an operating theater for observation and teaching, six solariums, well-equipped clinical laboratories, special treatment and X-ray rooms, and modern kitchens.
These original facilities served San Bernardino's needs until the early 1950s. In 1956, another collaborative community fund-raising campaign was launched to add space for more than 120 additional beds. The $3 million South Wing opened in 1960, inaugurating the now-renowned Inland Empire Heart Institute.
More major construction took place in 1970 when a $14 million nursing tower and health care center was completed. Twenty years later, in 1990, a six-story patient tower was built, adding the Matich Conference Center and a new cafeteria, as well as Outpatient Services. In 2002, changes included the addition of a $6.1 million Critical Care Unit - Ballard Center for Advanced Care - and an expanded Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and OB Services.
Today, St. Bernardine Medical Center is a 342-bed non-profit acute care hospital with the latest technology and advanced services, from family care to cardiac surgery. Dr. Savage's dream of a first-class hospital, with care and compassion, has become a reality. Guided by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, ours is a culture based on a strong set of core values, driven by a mission of service, and expressed through our compassion and care of body, mind and spirit.