St. Bernardine Medical Center

St. Bernardine Medical Center first opened in 1931 and is now celebrating its 90th anniversary.

Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.

Founded as a faith-based hospital in 1931 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, Dignity Health – St. Bernardine Medical Center (SBMC) is today a 342-bed nonprofit acute care hospital that has been nationally recognized for excellent care in treatments for stroke, heart, neurosurgery, orthopedics, maternity care, and weight loss surgery, the hospital said in a news release.

“I am proud of the St. Bernardine team of staff, physicians, and volunteers who have carried out the mission of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word for the past 90 years,” said Doug Kleam, the president of St. Bernadine Medical Center. “Every day I witness their amazing dedication to our patients and the community.”

Back in 1920, San Bernardino experienced a rapid population growth of 18,700 residents that grew to nearly 40,000 by 1930.

Concerned about the lack of hospital facilities for this booming population, a local surgeon, Dr. Philip Savage Sr. (1880-1955) shared his dream of building a faith-based hospital with Father Patrick Dunn, pastor of St. Bernardine Catholic Church, and Mother Mary Placidus Mulcahy, superior general of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word in Houston, Texas.

Guided by the mission of the Sisters of Charity to advocate for those who are poor and vulnerable, they established a formal trust agreement with members of the non-medical community. The group’s fundraising efforts led to the purchase of a vacant lot near the corner of Waterman and Highland avenue, which was a dirt road flanked by farms and fields.

California Governor James J. Rolph laid the cornerstone of the new St. Bernardine Medical Center and convent, which was named for Bernardo Albizzeschi, a priest born in Siena, Italy, in 1380 and canonized by the Roman Catholic Church as “Saint Bernardine.” The 125-bed hospital officially opened its doors on Oct. 10, 1931 with Dr. Savage as the first chief of staff. The first patient, Louise Landry, honored her daughter’s birthplace by naming her Bernardine Landry, who was delivered by Dr. Eugene H. Hull and baptized in the convent chapel by Father Dunn.

During the past nine decades, the hospital has grown to serve the specific needs of the community by adding a $3 million South Wing in 1960, a $14 million nursing tower in 1970, and a $6.1 million Critical Care in 2002.

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