History of St. Vincent's
The Daughters of Charity
During the late 1890's, local Catholic physicians identified the need for a Catholic hospital to meet the holistic healthcare needs of the European immigrant populations who were flocking to Bridgeport, Connecticut. The doctors contacted Father Nihill, then Pastor of St. Patrick's Church on North Avenue in Bridgeport, and asked for his assistance in contacting the Daughters of Charity, a religious women's community known for their work in hospitals, orphanages and schools.
The Daughters of Charity came to Bridgeport, conducted a needs assessment and determined that a second hospital was indeed needed in Bridgeport. It was decided that the hospital would be built in the north end of the city on a tract of land known as Hawley Farm. The hospital was incorporated in accordance with State of Connecticut laws on May 19, 1903. Cost to construct the 75-bed building was recorded at approximately $250,000. The hospital's cupola on top of the building quickly became a city landmark, and a symbol of compassion and healing for more than 70 years.
A Community Icon in the Making
St. Vincent's Hospital opened its doors on June 28, 1905. By the end of the first day, more than 70 patients had been treated. Over the years, the hospital building was expanded and educational programs and patient services were added, including a School of Nursing and Allied Health and Medical Residency programs. Today, St. Vincent's continues its commitment to education in healthcare fields through programs offered at St. Vincent's Medical Center's Graduate Medical Education Program. As more doctors joined the staff, the hospital added a fourth floor and side buildings to meet patient care demands. Many people in the community donated their hard-earned money to St. Vincent's, to help the hospital grow.
The community's strong dedication to the hospital reinforced to the Daughters of Charity that the Vincentian charism was greatly needed by both the rich and poor of Bridgeport. Eventually the hospital outgrew its capacity. The building, although adequately maintained for its age, needed dramatic modernization. It soon became evident that the entire building would need to be replaced. During the mid-1970s a decision was made to move the hospital from the City of Bridgeport to a tranquil suburban setting in the adjacent town of Fairfield. Unexpected building and land development costs and concern over inner city patient access to the hospital, especially the elderly and families using services at the clinics, caused the Daughters of Charity and Board of Directors to rethink their decision to move the hospital out of Bridgeport. After much deliberation, the decision was made that St. Vincent's would remain in Bridgeport.
The Medical Center Takes Shape
The Daughters of Charity wanted to remain true to their 1903 commitment to serve the sick and the poor of Bridgeport. The Fairfield property was sold to General Electric Company and eventually became GE's worldwide headquarters. The property is now owned by Sacred Heart University. Building of the new hospital began behind the old building. On Easter Sunday, April 17, 1976, William J. Riordan, president and chief executive officer, directed the transfer of 209 patients from the old St. Vincent's Hospital to the new St. Vincent's Medical Center, a 440,000 square foot building almost twice the size of the old one. The name was changed from St. Vincent's Hospital to St. Vincent's Medical Center, to reflect the organization's expansion and offering of comprehensive services. In 2003 a $40 million, 70,000 square-foot expansion provided space for ambulatory services, large state-of-the-art operating suites, and a 30-bed intensive care unit.
Honoring History into the Future
Today, St. Vincent’s continues its mission of carrying on the work of the Daughters of Charity and their commitment to serve the sick and poor of Bridgeport. St. Vincent’s Medical Center is a licensed 473-bed community teaching and referral hospital with a Level II trauma center and a 76-bed inpatient psychiatric facility in Westport. The Medical Center offers a full range of inpatient and outpatient services with regional centers of excellence in cardiology, surgery, cancer care, orthopaedics, family birthing, behavioral health, and an array of specialized services.
A member of Ascension Health, St. Vincent’s Health Services includes the Medical Center, St. Vincent’s Behavioral Health Services, St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services, and St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation. In 2010, the Medical Center broke ground on the Elizabeth M. Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care, the renovated and expanded Michael J. Daly Emergency Department.
World Class Care Close to Home
The Elizabeth M. Pfriem SWIM Center for Cancer Care contains all oncology services under one roof. These services encompass the full spectrum of cancer care and include community outreach, screening and prevention, diagnostic services, surgical and medical oncology, radiation therapy, interventional oncology, clinical trials, dedicated inpatient and outpatient cancer units, palliative care, pain management, integrative oncology, support services, patient and provider education and survivorship. The Center offers integrative oncology services, including a boutique, spa services, nutrition counseling, social work, financial counseling, a meditation area, support services and a survivorship program.
The Michael J. Daly Center for Emergency and Trauma Care was renamed in December of 2009 as the first section of the expanded and refurbished emergency department which opened in the fall 2010. The completely renovated emergency department, tripled in size, holds 60 beds, includes specialized trauma and critical care suites, a “Fast Track” area for minor case needs, dedicated OB/GYN rooms, pediatric area, expanded Behavioral Health and Psychiatric area with focus on privacy and safety, improvements in diagnostic equipment, including its own CT scanner, ultrasound and X-ray equipment to expedite diagnosis and treatment of emergency room patients and a permanent decontamination facility for hazardous spills.