A History of Compassionate Care Since 1931
Faith Hospital, 1920
When the Great Depression of 1929 took its toll on businesses throughout the country, health care was not spared. Financial woes forced Faith Hospital of St. Petersburg to close its doors in 1930. Dr. LeRoy Wylie, who had operated the hospital since 1920, and the Most Rev. Patrick Barry, bishop of the St. Augustine Diocese, sought out the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany (NY) for help. The Sisters were already operating St. Francis Hospital in Miami.
In June 1931, the Sisters bought Faith Hospital for $40,000. They renamed the hospital after the Franciscan saint, St. Anthony of Padua, because of his selfless dedication to God. St. Anthony's name is often invoked to help find lost articles or grant miracles because he was known as the helper of those in trouble and anxiety.
Four months later, Mother Mary Magdalena, St. Anthony's first administrator, arrived in St. Petersburg with Sister M. Assunta. Others soon followed. In all, nine Franciscan sisters and two postulants arrived. With $50 among them, their mission was to establish the first Catholic hospital on Florida's West Coast.
"St. Anthony's has a long heritage of working to provide high-quality compassionate care guided by the mission and values of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany," said Sr. Mary McNally, vice president of mission integration.
The hospital's goal was "to treat all who came under their care with the utmost in kindness and consideration and complete attention to their needs," according to an early hospital brochure. Hospital advertisements in 1931 stated that the cost per room was $2 to $3 per day.
The health care mission is a major commitment of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. Education, research, and scientific advancement characterize each Franciscan health care institution. The values of respect, hospitality and quality compassionate care epitomize the Franciscan spirit at St. Anthony's.
In 1951, the hospital grew into a six-building complex with 225 beds. Five years later when the hospital celebrated its' 25th anniversary, there were 300 beds and about 7,500 patients were being treated each year by a medical staff that included an estimated 130 physicians.
From the 1950s through the 1970s, St. Anthony's expanded further and began providing services to the community that were unavailable in Pinellas County. In 1960, St. Anthony's opened the first Cardiac Catheterization Lab in the county. In 1972 the hospital had the first computerized pharmacy in the southeastern United States.
The 1980s and 1990s also had their share of firsts. In July 1980, St. Anthony's opened its CareUnit, a facility to treat patients with drug and alcohol-related dependencies. The 1990s saw the computerization of the hospital's Health Information System.
St. Anthony's future continues to grow as the hospital opened the new Emergency Center and Patient Care Tower in early 2012. But the growth is marked by the same mission the Sisters of Allegany built the hospital on. "The construction of the new emergency center and patient tower will help us to continue to build that legacy of community service far into the future," Sr. Mary said.