The history of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie and their involvement in health care in Northern Ontario dates back to 1881 when four Sisters of St. Joseph of Toronto travelled to the City of Thunder Bay and began ministry in Northern Ontario, planning to teach and work with the poor. In 1884, the Sisters opened a hospital in Thunder Bay. This founding hospital was first housed in the convent and then later in a building of its own, and was created in response to the needs of the times – to care for those injured in the building of the railway. This began a tradition of caring and excellence.
While the first hospitals were staffed by Sisters and a few lay nurses, today’s healthcare centres are staffed by lay people. The Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie responded to the call for health care in Northern Ontario towns and cities by building and sponsoring hospitals. The Sisters established a Board of Trustees for the Sudbury General Hospital with a core representation of people of all faiths and traditions. Many people joined the Sisters in this healing ministry.
In 1950, the Sudbury General Hospital of the Immaculate Heart of Mary on Paris Street, most recently known as St. Joseph’s Health Centre (SJHC), opened as the first English speaking hospital and in 1972 the facility grew from 200 to 360 beds providing the majority of acute care beds in the area. It gradually expanded to provide a full range of health care services to the community.
The Marymount School of Nursing opened in 1953, and operated until 1969, providing excellent training to countless numbers of young women until schools of Nursing were transferred to the Universities and Colleges of Ontario in 1970.
The Government of Ontario’s Savings and Restructuring Act (1996) resulted in the Sudbury General Hospital being ordered to transfer all programs to the new one-site hospital, in what is now considered Health Sciences North.
On August 14, 1997, a new lay corporation, St. Joseph’s Health Centre (SJHC), was created to carry on the healthcare legacy of the Sisters, and took on responsibility to transition the programs at the Sudbury General Hospital to the one-site regional hospital. As a result of the outcome of Health Services Restructuring, a new sponsor organization, the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario, was created in 1998 to ensure Catholic healthcare in Ontario continued to flourish.
Although losing a long-standing role in acute care was very disappointing, the Board of Trustees, under the sponsorship of the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario (CHCO), was guided by the organization’s mission of continuing the healing ministry of Jesus by meeting the unmet needs of the community. An immediate need for post-acute care, specifically long-term care, was identified. The Board of Trustees quickly focused their energy on making this a reality, and opened St. Joseph’s Villa in 2003. This was followed by the opening of Northeastern Ontario’s first rehabilitation hospital, St. Joseph’s Continuing Care Centre, in 2009, and a second long-term care home, Villa St. Gabriel’s Villa, in 2011.
- The Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Marie founded the Sudbury General Hospital, which provided the majority of acute care in the city. Additions and improvements were made during this time.
- Participated in voluntary planning for consolidation from 3 to 2 hospitals; Memorial to close, SGH as hot site, Laurentian as warm site
- Hospital restructuring announcement, SGH ordered to close by the government of Ontario.
- SJHC given role of service provider within HRSRH structure for CCC/Rehab/Palliative Care
- SJHC provided an ethics consultant to serve the Sudbury health care institutions and small hospitals, as requested, from 1997-2014.
- St. Joseph’s Health Centre presented Vision-Mission re: meeting the unmet needs/aging population.
As a result of the Health System Restructuring direction, in order to continue Catholic Healthcare in Ontario, a new sponsor CHCO was created in 1998. In addition, a new lay corporation, St. Joseph’s Health Centre, was created to carry on the healthcare legacy of the Sisters.
SJHC received its letter patent as a not for profit corporation under the Canada Corporations Act on August 14, 1997.
SJHC had two objectives:
- To operate a hospital, other health care, educational and related facilities in accordance with the philosophy and mission of the members of the corporation.
- For the aforesaid purposes, to acquire and take over the property and assets of the Sudbury General Hospital of the Immaculate Heart of Mary situate at 700 Paris Street, in the City of Sudbury, in the Province of Ontario and assume all liabilities associated therewith including any indebtedness to The Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie and to indemnify The Sisters of St. Joseph of Sault Ste. Marie for any and all claims arising from the operation of the Sudbury General Hospital of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Called to be a Mission Leader
We are very proud to be an organization driven by our mission and we encourage anyone who wants to learn more about us to watch our “Called to be a Mission Leader” video.