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The Sisters of Mercy, originally founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland in 1831, vowed to serve people who suffer from poverty, sickness, and lack of education.
In 1854, eight Sisters of Mercy made their way from Ireland to San Francisco, and immediately began caring for residents of a city struck by cholera, typhoid, and influenza. Among them was Sister Mary Baptist Russell, a well-educated daughter of a middle-class Irish family, who is recognized as the California foundress of the Sisters of Mercy. Sister Mary Baptist and the other seven sisters founded St. Mary’s Hospital in San Francisco, now the oldest continuously operating hospital in the city.
The sisters made their way on to Yreka in 1871 to assess the situation there. Because the gold rush boom had dwindled, they moved on to Red Bluff, where they opened the Academy of Our Lady of Mercy on March 3, 1882. Twenty-five years later, they accepted a donation from Elizabeth Kraft to operate what became known as St. Elizabeth Community Hospital. In the late 1940s, the Sisters of Mercy assumed responsibility for St. Caroline’s Hospital – now known as Mercy Medical Center Redding. Finally, in 1985, Eskaton Hospital in Mt. Shasta needed new sponsorship, and the sisters began to serve there. We now call this hospital Mercy Mt. Shasta Medical Center. Sr. Mary Baptist’s dream of service in the farthest north of the state was completed.
Mercy Medical Center Redding, St. Elizabeth Community Hospital, and Mercy Mt. Shasta Medical Center merged in 1995 to create Mercy Healthcare North. We are a division of Dignity Health.
Today, Dignity Health is the fifth largest health system in the nation with more than 40 hospitals across three states – 22 of which are Catholic-based facilities. The mission and values we were founded upon remain the same. Through teamwork and innovation, faith and compassion, advocacy and action, we endeavor every day to keep our patients happy, healthy, and whole.