SAINT VINCENT CHARITY HOSPITAL AND HEALTH CENTER, a 492-bed not-for-profit general acute-care hospital (located at 2351 E. 22nd St.), opened on 10 Oct. 1865 as Cleveland's first permanent general hospital. Bp. AMADEUS RAPPE of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland (see CATHOLICS, ROMAN) secured land at the corner of Perry, Gordon, and Marion streets. The SISTERS OF CHARITY OF ST. AUGUSTINE staffed and managed the hospital, which served both poor and private paying patients. Cleveland's first surgical pavilion and amphitheater was constructed at St. Vincent in 1872, and a free medical dispensary for the poor opened there in 1894. The School of NURSING, Cleveland's first Catholic diploma school of nursing, was established in 1898. Rosary Hall, one of the first hospitals in the U.S. to offer special services and a program for alcoholics, was dedicated in 1952. The first open-heart surgical procedure in the Midwest was performed at St. Vincent Charity Hospital in 1956, in the world's first intensive-care unit devoted exclusively to heart surgery, in conjunction with ST. LUKE'S HOSPITAL's Claud Foster Research Lab. St. Vincent's developed the world's first heart-lung machine. In 1985 St. Vincent Charity Hospital & Health Center formally affiliated with RICHMOND HTS. GENERAL HOSPITAL. When WOODRUFF HOSPITAL closed in 1986, it transferred its beds and programs to St. Vincent Charity as the Woodruff Pavilion. Major hospital subsidiaries included the Chagrin Valley Medical Center in South Russell and the Cleveland Research Institute, located at the hospital. Along with CLEVELAND STATE UNIV. and CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, St. Vincent Charity Hospital & Health Center is a member of the St. Vincent Quadrangle, an organization working to improve the physical surroundings and safety around the member institutions.

In May 1995 the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Health Network, which also owned and operated ST. JOHN WEST SHORE, as well as Timken Mercy Medical Center in Canton and Providence Hospital in Columbia, SC, announced plans to enter into an equal partnership with the Nashville, TN, for-profit health care giant Columbia/HCA Healthcare Corp. The deal offered Columbia/HCA a foothold in the competitive northeast Ohio market and a stronger position to bid for national managed-care contracts, while providing the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine with cash and a stronger competitive position from which to continue their mission of serving the poor. The agreement would not affect the 4 hospitals' non-profit status, and contained written guarantees designed to ensure that they would be run consistent with the mission and moral teachings of the Church. The planned deal was the first time in the nation that Catholic and for-profit providers entered into an equal partnership.

In 2011, Dr. David Perse was named president of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center. The hospital also renovated and expanded its emergency department in order to decrease waiting room time and increase patient privacy. In 2016, Saint Vincent received a $1.9 million gift  from the Robert S. and Germaine Lahiff Hines Endowment to support and enhance its nursing education program. 

Updated by Gretchen Norton

Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

View image in Digital Cleveland Starts Here®



Cleveland Historical Logo

View more on Cleveland Historical


Archives, Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Richfield, OH.

Gavin, Donald P. In All Things Charity: History of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, Cleveland, Ohio 1851-1954 (1955).


Article Categories