Fonds F07 - St. Joseph's Hospital, Sarnia, Ont. fonds

St. Joseph's Hospital, Sarnia, Ont.

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Title proper

St. Joseph's Hospital, Sarnia, Ont. fonds

General material designation

  • Multiple media

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Title notes

  • Source of title proper: Title is based on the contents of the fonds.

Level of description

Fonds

Reference code

CA ON00279 F07

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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)

Dates of creation area

Date(s)

  • 1944-2004 (Creation)
    Creator
    St. Joseph's Hospital (Sarnia, Ont.)

Physical description area

Physical description

25 cm of textual records
3 bound volumes
14 scrapbooks ; 17 cm
newspaper clippings ; 8.5 cm
375 photographs : b&w
188 photographs : col.
1 audio cassette (2 hrs.)

Publisher's series area

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Archival description area

Name of creator

(1944-1990)

Administrative history

St. Joseph’s Hospital in Sarnia, Ontario, was born during the leadership term of Mother Constance Dunn. Sisters were invited by Mayor Hipple’s Sarnia City Council to set up a hospital in October 1942 but had to appeal to the federal government to release essential building materials so that the cornerstone was not laid until April 21, 1944. The new hospital was located at 290 North Russell Street.

The shortage of labour and materials meant that building progress was slow, but even though the hospital was not completed, one floor was opened on March 1, 1946, to meet the acute need for hospital beds. When the formal opening took place on October 18, 1946, The Honourable George A. Drew, Premier of Ontario cut the ribbon. Bishops J.T. Kidd and J.C. Cody (Coadjutor, Bishop), and priests from London and Detroit were present. Officials from other hospitals were also present. It was one of the first complete hospitals built after WW II. The million-dollar hospital with 150 beds and 30 bassinettes was funded completely by the Sisters along with a $10,000 grant from the City of Sarnia and the offer of freedom from municipal taxation. Unfortunately, the grant did not materialize due to technicalities of municipal law and council changes. Later, Mayor W. C. Nelson personally assumed and discharged that debt. Once the hospital opened, the units were filled with both Canadian and American patients from Port Huron and the state of Michigan.

There were 26 resident Sisters, who carried out active nursing roles and administrative duties, notably Sister Pascal Kenny who served as the first Administrator of the hospital. She had previous experience working in operating rooms and administration and was a member of the American College of Hospital Administrators and of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Hospital Association. In the early days, nursing, technical, and domestic staff were difficult to find. Many of the staff were mothers of families who could only work occasionally. Students from St. Joseph’s Training School of Nursing in London helped fill the nursing rota and were hired permanently after graduation. Because of the nursing shortage, innovations were made such as the central distribution of medicines and central surgical supply rooms.

By September 1948, St. Joseph’s Hospital was better able to provide for patients. A detoxification centre was opened, and many alcoholics were treated at the hospital. A clinic for cancer patients was also held regularly at the hospital, overseen by a team from the London Cancer Clinic, who did follow-up checks and therapy. The Auxiliary Radiotherapy and Follow-up Cancer Clinic, the first of its kind in Ontario, was opened in conjunction with the Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation.

On August 23, 1954, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima, donated by Dr. Carpeneto was installed in the grounds. In November 1954, a movie star, Pat O’Brien, was a patient, causing quite a stir among the staff. He liked the hospital very much. In the early days, there was a tennis court donated by staff and during the winter it was flooded for skating.

Due to the demands on hospital care with the burgeoning population of Sarnia, a seven-story, two-million-dollar addition was built in 1959, with the help of two government grants and a capital expense campaign by the people of Sarnia. The new wing added 150 beds and an expanded radiology department with the latest diagnostic equipment, and an enlarged laboratory. By this time, the number of Sisters on staff was 13.

In 1960, a 45-bed paediatric wing was added. The late 1960’s saw the establishment of an employee health program, the addition of a Social Service Department, and in 1969, a diagnostic radioisotope service. This time period also saw the establishment of District Health Councils. In 1966, 27,377 patients used the hospital, 857 babies were born, and there were 649 hospital employees, and 129 medical-dental staff. Over that year and the following year, the laboratory was renovated, and an intensive care unit opened.

In the 1970s, the hospital needed to update its facilities to meet accreditation standards, as well as to comply with the Sisters’ own standards of care. Because government funding was decreased, Sisters needed to do more independent fundraising. This decade also saw the Ministry of Health deciding to amalgamate hospitals and rationalize services in Lambton County. This became a political issue which meant many hours were spent on discussions with the District Health Council, the Mustard Report, and other tasks. St. Joseph’s Hospital also became embroiled in a confrontation with the Ministry of Health on contentious issues regarding health services, which conflicted with the Catholic faith.

Over this decade, renovations were conducted with an isotope department added, cafeteria improvements, and renovations to the nursery and obstetrics unit. When the pediatrics unit was transferred to Sarnia General Hospital in April 1976, the children’s wing closed and only obstetrics remained. From 1966-1986, 196,857 patients were treated.

Sister St. Elizabeth Wilkinson, Sister St. Paul Dietrich, Sister Georgina Ashwell, Sister Mary Elizabeth Campbell, and Sister Rita Heenan, also served as Administrators over these decades. From 1979 onwards, diminishing numbers of Sisters able to take on the responsibilities of hospital management led to the hiring of qualified laypersons, beginning with Frank Bagatto as the Executive Director in June 1979.

In the 1980s, quality assurance became a major focus, and new services such as the chiropody were added. There were further renovations and improvements, including to the intensive care unit, and the addition of the new Chronic Care Facility. The Sisters’ quarters were vacated, and social service and respiratory technology relocated in this area. An outpatient surgery unit was added, and improvements were made to the heating system, cafeteria, elevators, and nurse-call system. Some of these renovations were fully or partially funded by the Ministry of Health.

By 1982, there were only seven Sisters left on staff, with four in pastoral care. The last Sisters’ quarters were converted to use as an auditorium and health science library in 1983, with Sisters moving to a house at 430 London Road. During this year, palliative care was added. In November 1983, with the assistance of the Lambton District Health Council, a memorandum of understanding was signed by Sarnia General and St. Joseph’s Hospitals. Under this agreement, St. Joseph’s Hospital took over the family oriented acute care field with responsibility for chronically ill patients.

Further changes took place throughout the 1980s including the opening of an ambulatory care unit. Monies from community fundraising efforts as well as the Ministry of Health were secured for the building of a $21 million free standing hospital connected to the old hospital on two levels. This took place in three stages beginning with parking lots, demolition of apartment buildings on Norman Street, and construction of the main buildings. A sod turning ceremony was held on August 24, 1987. However, the hospital faced problems such as budgetary restraints placed on Ontario hospitals and a $1 million deficit, and without provincial help, cuts had to be made to services, particularly to part-time staff.

St. Joseph’s Hospital was officially re-opened as St. Joseph’s Health Centre on October 12, 1990, with facilities for rehabilitation, and continuing and palliative care. This was the amalgamation of St. Joseph’s Hospital, the Continuing Care Centre (formerly the Chronic Care Facility), Sarnia-Lambton Workers’ Treatment Centre, and a Day Hospital. The name change reflects a concomitant change in service provision and governance. St. Joseph’s Health Centre no longer served exclusively as an in-patient treatment centre for the critically ill. It also provided long-term care beds and outpatient treatment. Chief Maness of the local Anishinaabe community spoke at the opening. Patients were transferred to continuing care, mostly from Sarnia General Hospital, but also from acute care beds, homes, and outside agencies for a total of 142 patients by the end of 1990. The hospital that opened its main doors on Russell Street now opened its doors on Norman Street.

In August 1991, the entire hospital site was acquired from the Sisters by St. Joseph’s Health Services Association of Sarnia, Inc. In January 1995, the Sisters donated their residence at 430 London Road to St. Joseph Health Centre to be used as a hospice. Funding for its operation came from daily fees, donations, and St. Joseph’s Health Centre.

There was pressure from the Ministry of Health to rationalize services, which led to changes in service delivery such as moving neurology to Sarnia General Hospital and urology to St. Joseph’s Hospital. In 1995, a study, “Lambton’s Healthy Future” was undertaken by the Lambton District Health Council, the two Sarnia hospitals, and the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital in Petrolia which set the stage for changes in hospital care. In 1997, St. Joseph’s Hospital acute care services began being transferred to Sarnia General Hospital, and St. Joseph’s Hospital became the provider of support services such as Food Services, Housekeeping, Human Resources, and Materials Management. The emergency department at St. Joseph’s Hospital closed in June 1997.

On January 29, 1998, St. Joseph’s Health Centre joined in partnership with the Charlotte Eleanor Englehart Hospital and the Sarnia General Hospital by signing the Strategic Alliance Agreement. In April 2003, ownership of St. Joseph’s Health Centre was given to the Lambton County Hospital Group.

Custodial history

Scope and content

This fonds contains records pertaining to the activities of the hospital and its associated administrators, staff, and organizations, including histories, annals, financial documents, governance records, photographs of people, the buildings and events, and news clippings.

Notes area

Physical condition

Immediate source of acquisition

The records were transferred from St. Joseph's Hospital to the Congregation of the Sister of St. Joseph in Canada - London site archives.

Arrangement

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

    Location of originals

    The records are located at The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives.

    Availability of other formats

    Restrictions on access

    The Archives reserves the right to restrict access to the collection depending on the condition of the archival material, the amount of material requested, and the purpose of the research. The use of certain materials may also be restricted for reasons of privacy or sensitivity, or under a donor agreement. Access restrictions will be applied equally to all researchers and reviewed periodically. No researcher will be given access to any materials that contain a personal information bank such as donor agreements or personnel records, or to other proprietary information such as appraisals, insurance valuations, or condition reports.

    Terms governing use, reproduction, and publication

    Permission to study archival records does not extend to publication or display rights. The researcher must request this permission in writing from the Archives.

    Finding aids

    File and series list available.

    Associated materials

    Related materials

    Accruals

    No further accruals are expected.

    Alternative identifier(s)

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    Standard number

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    Description record identifier

    Institution identifier

    Rules or conventions

    Status

    Revised

    Level of detail

    Partial

    Dates of creation, revision and deletion

    July 2, 2020
    March 19, 2024

    Language of description

    • English

    Script of description

      Sources

      Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives. St. Joseph’s Hospital – Sarnia, Ontario.

      Sister Mary Loyola Drouillard. Memories of St. Joseph’s Hospital – Sarnia. April, 1988. Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Canada Archives.

      G. J. Humbert, A Compendium of the Catholic Health Association of Canada, Ottawa: Catholic Health Alliance of Canada.

      Unknown. St. Joseph’s Hospital now St. Joseph’s Health Centre. Sarnia Gazette, June 29, 1991.

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