Standing on the Shoulders of Those Who Came Before
In 1878, shortly after silver was first discovered in Leadville, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas came to Leadville to address the medical needs of the bustling mining community. Sister Bernard Mary Pendergast, Sister Mary Crescentia Fischer and Sister Francis Xavier Davey came to build a hospital at the enthusiastic request of local miners and with the help of the young Catholic priest, Father Henry Robinson.
On February 1, 1879, the Leadville Daily Chronicle reported, “Toward the end of December 1878, there came to Leadville over the rough roads and through the storm, [three] noble women. They had heard that up here on the wild mountain top was sickness, sorrow and despair, and they came to comfort.”
Leadville’s mayor at the time, Horace A.W. Tabor began the fundraising for their cause by donating $500, and the Sisters had enough to build a hospital within a month. The building wasn’t nearly finished when the Sisters carried in the first patient.
On March 13, 1879, despite the lack of doors and windows, they opened St. Vincent’s Hospital in Leadville. That first year the Sisters treated about a thousand patients.
In 1972 the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth sold St. Vincent’s Hospital in Leadville to a new community hospital district and the Sisters turned the hospital over to a citizens’ board; the name became St. Vincent Hospital.
In 2020, the organization’s moniker changed slightly again to St. Vincent Health, to reflect a new health campus and the construction of a new, state-of-the-art hospital inspired by the bootstrapping determination of the Sisters of Charity and their work 141 years prior.
Historical information summarized from: The Origin of St. Vincent’s Hospital, Leadville by Tom Sherlock. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or @ColoradoHealth on Twitter with additions, corrections, suggestions, or for more information. Thank you!