History of St. Mary’s Health

1870 to 1899


Bernard Schapker, an Evansville businessman, corresponds with Sister Euphemia, DC of the St. Joseph Provincial House in Emmitsburg, Maryland requesting the Daughters of Charity come to Evansville to open a hospital.


Sister Marie Voelker, DC and three other Daughters of Charity arrive to begin a healthcare ministry in a once vacant Marine hospital on the banks of the Ohio River.

On July 18, 1872, the Daughters of Charity receive their first patient. The man was a stranger who fell ill traveling upriver and stopped in Evansville. The Sisters happily prepared a bed for the grateful stranger in one of the renovated rooms and sent for a doctor. That stranger was the first patient at St. Mary's Hospital and the first to experience our Mission in action. The next day the Daughters of Charity officially open their first healthcare ministry in Evansville.


After undergoing rapid growth and industrial transformation, the need for a larger hospital to serve the expanding population becomes obvious. As a result, under Sister Mary Agnes Farrell, D.C., administrator, the Sisters purchase seven lots on the corner of First Avenue and Columbia to build a new hospital.    


The Daughters of Charity open a new St. Mary’s Hospital on First Avenue in July, heralded as one of the finest hospitals in the West. This new hospital offers many innovations never seen or even heard of by residents of the time. The main operating room's lighting was so effective doctors could operate as easily at night as in the daytime. Steam-powered elevators were installed and a chapel was built.

The first students are admitted to St. Mary’s School of Nursing. A total of 1,552 professional nurses graduate from the school in the 73 years it is in operation. 

1900 to 1959


A group of volunteer women form the St. Mary’s Hospital Auxiliary. The women soon become known as the “Pink Ladies” because of the pink smocks that they wear on duty. In later years, the Pink Ladies continue to serve St. Mary’s patients and guests with a true Servant’s Heart. 


On Sunday, May 17, 1953 - Ground is broken for the third St. Mary's at 3700 Washington Avenue in Evansville, Indiana.


February 1956 – St. Mary’s Chapel, Chapel of Mary Queen, is dedicated. This Chapel still serves as a welcome place for our patients, visitors and associates.

On March 4, 1956 – Dedication day for the new St. Mary’s on Washington Avenue. On hand were 40 Daughters of Charity from throughout the nation.  

On March 10, 1956 - Patients and equipment are moved from the old hospital on First Avenue to the new hospital on the east side of Evansville. This historic move, coined "Operation Good Neighbor," takes 100 minutes. In a testament of the dedication of St. Mary’s staff and the Evansville community, 97 patients were moved 6.8 miles by ambulances, taxies and 110 tractor-trailer trucks.  All equipment was delivered and every major department was functioning by nightfall. Nearly 800 volunteers assisted with the move to make it a success.


St. Mary’s becomes the first hospital in the country to provide family-centered maternity care, an innovation introduced by Dr. Edgar Engel, Sr., Dr. C. Curtis Young and Sister Mary Stella Simpson, DC. For the first time, fathers are allowed to be present during the delivery of their baby. 

1960 to 1969


The Regina Pacis Home is deeded to St. Mary’s by the Catholic Diocese of Evansville.  It serves as a long-term care facility for the community and closes in 2003 as St. Mary’s exits long-term care.

St. Mary’s Cancer Program is accredited for the first time by the American College of Surgeon’s Commission on Cancer. It is the first cancer program in the Tri-State to be accredited.                

St. Mary’s ICU opens early this year. Nurses, aides, and nursing care assistants were trained in the care of monitoring patients – how to apply electrodes and also how to recognize any problems or changes in the monitoring patterns.  

1970 to 1979


St. Mary’s Physician Residency program begins. Many graduates have served as physicians at St. Mary’s throughout the years.  


St. Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) opens, making it the first Level III Nursery in the Tri-State.


A new symbol for the Medical Center’s expanded and inclusive community role is unveiled. The circular symbol, divided into three segments, depicts St. Mary’s concern for the body, mind and spirit – the whole person. These three segments are also linked with the central figure of Christ/humankind reaching out to the larger community.

Warrick Hospital in Boonville, Indiana, joins St. Mary’s Medical Center. The name later changes to St. Mary’s Warrick Hospital in 1997 to better reflect their affiliation with St. Mary’s and standing as a faith-based ministry. In later years as an accredited critical access hospital, St. Mary’s Warrick Hospital offers acute care inpatient services, as well as outpatient services such as surgery, lab, radiology and rehabilitation.

1980 to 1989


Welborn’s LifeFlight, the Tri-State’s first emergency air ambulance service takes flight, logging 403 patients in its first 16 months. In 2002, the name changes to St. Mary’s LifeFlight.


St. Mary’s Convenient Care West opens for patients needing immediate or after-hours care when they could not see their primary physician. In later years, St. Mary’s expands its urgent care services with additional locations in Evansville, Newburgh and Boonville, Indiana.


St. Mary’s Occupational Medicine Clinic is established, providing treatment for work related injuries, pre-placement screenings and a full range of other offerings to meet regulatory requirements.

1990 to 1999


St. Mary’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit opens. It is the first unit of its kind in the Tri-State, offering family-centered environment to care for critically ill children.

St. Mary’s establishes St. Mary’s At Home, a state-accredited, comprehensive and multidisciplinary in-home healthcare service which promotes, maintains and restores health. 


St. Mary’s Breast Center is established, offering a team approach to total breast care and leading-edge breast screening and diagnostic services.

St. Mary’s Surgicare on Professional Boulevard, is added as an outpatient surgery center for patients in need of medical procedures not requiring an overnight stay. Later, in 2004, St. Mary’s Surgicare Cross Pointe, is added to service more patients.


St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Hospital, a 25-bed long-term acute care facility, is opened at St. Mary’s Warrick in Boonville. The hospital is eventually relocated to the second floor of St. Mary’s Medical Center in 2001 and eventually closes in 2005.


St. Mary’s celebrates its 125th anniversary!

St. Mary's Community Health opens and St. Mary’s Mobile Outreach Clinic is dedicated, bringing much needed clinic services to low-income neighborhoods.


St. Mary’s purchases Welborn Baptist Hospital and two new Welborn community foundations are formed with $80 million in start-up funds.

The Daughters of Charity National Health System and the Sisters of St. Joseph Health System form Ascension Health. Ascension Health grows to become the largest not-for-profit Catholic healthcare system in the United States.

2000 to 2009


St. Mary’s establishes St. Mary’s Mobile Dental Clinic through funding from St. Mary’s Foundation. The Clinic continues to bring dental care to low-income children and adolescents in area schools.

St. Mary’s Hospital for Women & Children opens.  The facility provides exceptional, high-quality care in a beautiful and gentle environment for every stage of a woman’s life - from childhood, to maternity, to motherhood to maturity.


St. Mary’s Weight Management Center opens, offering surgical options for the treatment of obesity.

St. Mary’s Joslin Diabetes Center opens to treat diabetes and diabetic related conditions.


A devastating tornado hits the Evansville and Newburgh area.  St. Mary’s serves our community by caring for victims of the tornado on-site, in our Emergency Room and throughout the health system.


St. Mary’s is verified by the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma as the first Level II Adult Trauma Center in the Tri-State and as the first Level II Pediatric Trauma Center in the region in 2009. This makes St. Mary’s the most comprehensive trauma center south of Indianapolis.


St. Mary’s Center for Children opens.  Designed with children in mind, the Center is a multidisciplinary collection of services for children with chronic illnesses and developmental disorders.

St. Mary’s Center for Advanced Medicine opens. This four-story, 125,000 square foot outpatient facility houses St. Mary’s cardiovascular services, outpatient imaging, an outpatient laboratory and physician offices.


St. Mary's opens its Surgical/Trauma ICU.

2010 to Present


The Ronald McDonald House, located adjacent to St. Mary’s Medical Center, opens its doors as a "home-away-from-home" for the families of critically ill children in the Tri-State area.


St. Mary's Medical Center receives Magnet® Designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center.  The Magnet® Recognition Program honors healthcare organizations that provide nursing excellence. St. Mary’s Medical Center is the first hospital in Evansville to achieve this high honor.


St. Mary’s becomes a member of St. Vincent. This partnership continues to further strengthen faith-based, holistic care in our local communities and across the state of Indiana.

St. Mary’s Northbrook opens on the North Side of Evansville. This facility provides a comfortable and convenient location for primary care physician and other outpatient services, such as lab, X-ray, CT scan and mobile digital mammography.


St. Mary’s Epworth Crossing, a state-of-the-art outpatient center focused on promoting wellness, opens to the public.  Services center on convenience and personalized care, and include St. Mary’s Breast Center, St. Mary’s Urgent Care Epworth, St. Mary’s Wellness Center, primary care physician services, lab, imaging and medical equipment.

St. Mary’s Medical Group is formed - a physician-led, patient-centered organization that combines all four St. Mary’s physician groups into one collaborative team.  With practice sites located throughout the region, St. Mary’s Medical Group offers the Tri-State convenient access to primary care and specialty physician services. 


With community support, the Daughters of Charity Prayer Garden opens next to St. Mary’s Center for Advanced Medicine and St. Mary’s Chapel. This space, along with others throughout the health system, offer quiet places of peace and tranquility for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. Chapel.

March 2016

St. Mary’s Medical Center receives Magnet® Redesignation. As a Magnet® Redesignated facility, St. Mary’s is among a very elite group.  It is a clear testament to our community that St. Mary’s places the care of our patients at the center of what we do by creating an environment where our staff are empowered to provide the highest quality care.


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