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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
On October 30, 1906, while operating the boarding school, the sisters and Bishop Thomas Grace were gifted a generous donation of money and land from Elizabeth Kraft, widow of Herbert Kraft, one of the largest landowners in the area. She requested that the donated property – the Old Duncan Robertson Residence – be used as a hospital and operated by the Sisters of Mercy. The hospital was to be named St. Elizabeth.
Between October 1906 and September 1907, the building was renovated and suitably converted. The Red Bluff Daily News described the new hospital as “… one of the best hospitals north of Sacramento.” The first patient was registered in 1906.
A fire destroyed the hospital on September 9, 1913, but the sisters worked tirelessly to raise the money needed to rebuild. With the help of Red Bluff citizens, a new brick and cement hospital was dedicated at the same site on May 28, 1916.
Many years later, in 1978, a larger hospital was built two miles south of the original downtown site to meet the needs of the growing Red Bluff population. It has become the central location of health care for Tehama County.
St. Elizabeth Community Hospital merged with Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Mt. Shasta Medical Center to create Mercy Healthcare North in 1995. 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.