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95th Anniversary

Dignity Health - St. Mary Medical Center in Long Beach has been serving the people of Long Beach since August 26, 1923 – 95 years. Originally founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word as St. Mary’s Hospital, the hospital’s goal was to expand the call of Bishop Dubuis to minister to "Our Lord Jesus Christ suffering in the persons of a multitude of sick and infirm of every kind who seek relief at your hands."

This historical picture illustrates the community’s show of support for the hospital. Look closely and you can see the Sisters in the open window above the crowd. Over the course of time, nearly 150 Sisters from our founding congregation have served their mission at St. Mary, many providing direct patient care as nurses. In fact, from 1923 until 1991 the position of Hospital President was held by Sisters.

The first hospital was erected at a cost of approximately $300,000, and was able to accommodate 100 patients, with an emergency room, laboratory, pharmacy and operating room.In 1933, an earthquake shook Long Beach and destroyed St. Mary’s Hospital. The Sisters rebuilt the hospital and expanded to include many of the services that exist today. In 1949, the North Wing was opened, more than doubling hospital capacity. Then in 1974, the Bauer Tower opened and St. Mary Hospital became St. Mary Medical Center, with all private patient rooms, a larger emergency department, new intensive care unit and heart care unit, as well as maternal child health services.

St. Mary provides a full continuum of care that meets the preventive, curative, supportive and rehabilitative needs of the city’s diverse population. In 1986, the Sisters responded to a drastic need for specialty services by opening the C.A.R.E. Program, a comprehensive center for persons living with HIV and AIDS. In 1996, St. Mary Medical Center became a part of Catholic Healthcare West (renamed Dignity Health in 2012) continuing the Sisters’ ministry of service. Today, the Sisters continue to be an integral part of both Dignity Health and St. Mary serving on our Boards, in Spiritual Care Services, Administration, and as Patient Representatives.