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The Sisters of Mercy came to Phoenix in 1892 to open a parish school. They were successful in that endeavor, but what affected them most deeply was the suffering of tuberculosis victims. Realizing the most pressing need of the community, the Sisters expanded their original mission and began fund-raising to be able to establish a sanitarium.
Their efforts paid off. They collected enough money to rent a six-bedroom brick cottage at Fourth and Polk Streets in January of 1895. They equipped each room with two beds for tuberculosis patients and created quarters for themselves in the living room. St. Joseph's Sanitarium was born.
Two months later, the Sisters had raised sufficient funds to build a "real hospital." On March 19, 1895, a stake was driven into the ground to mark the site of what would become a hospital housing 24 private rooms that opened onto porches.
Through the years, there were additions to that building, of course, and a devastating fire in 1917, after which the building was reconstructed in just 90 days. The rebuilt facility was adequate for the community for the next 30 years, but the local population was continuing to grow significantly. In 1930, the population of Phoenix was 48,118. By 1945, it had reached nearly 100,000. St. Joseph's Hospital needed a larger facility.
In the mid-1940s, the Sisters purchased 10 acres of land at Third Avenue and Thomas Road which was then part of an old dairy farm. They were criticized for choosing land so far north of the city, literally out in the country. But the Sisters had foresight and a keen understanding of a good business deal. Those 10 acres cost just $25,000.
In November 1947, a fundraising campaign began to raise money to build the new hospital. The modern, spacious facility opened in July of 1953.
St. Joseph's Hospital has thrived at this same location for going on half a century. But there has still been plenty of change in healthcare -- in the services provided, in the way business is managed, in the programs that help our community and in the technological advances offered.