Essentia Health - St. Marys Celebrates 125 Years of Northland Service

By KBJR News 1

August 5, 2013 Updated Aug 5, 2013 at 12:17 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - For Sister Kathleen Hofer, who has worn many hats at St. Mary's Hospital since she came as the CEO in 1982, describes her call to the medical field much like her call to Christ.

"It's just a call, a feel, that this is what God wants one to do—at least that was my experience," said Hofer.

It was a similar call, says Hofer, for the Benedictine Sisters that founded St. Mary's in 1888, then located on 20th Avenue West, in Duluth, "to really provide holistic care for everyone, and that includes physical, emotional, and spiritual care."

Back then, a milestone for St. Mary's, and Northlanders, came in the form of a "lumberjack ticket," which provided thousands of men working in the timber and mining industries with insurance and medical care.

But as times changed, so did the hospital—the chronology of which is now displayed in a 53–foot–long history mural near the hospital's Heart and Vascular Center.

For 50–year employee and Registered Nurse Margaret Rogers, watching the advancements the hospital has seen in medical procedures and equipment unfold throughout the decades has been, at times, hard to believe.

"I would never have guessed that they would be doing laparoscopic procedures that they're doing nowadays that they never did before—Cyberknife—just all kinds of wonderful, wonderful things," said Rogers.

But Rogers added that the hospital still stands on the spiritual foundation on which it was founded 125 years later.

"Taking care of the total person is... very important," said Rogers. "That's what's kept me here."

While that will never change, Essentia Health–St. Mary's Medical Center staff says an equally important goal lies within looking to the future of medicine—both in, and outside, of hospital walls.

"How much of it is going to be in a big brick building, or how much of it is going to be served in other ways, rather than being in a hospital bed," asked Hofer.

Sister Hofer says much of the weight of those decisions will fall on the shoulders of the future fresh faces of medicine.

To light up the hype of this 125–year celebration, Essentia Health – Saint Mary's will be illuminating the front of the hospital, along East Third Street, starting at 9 PM, Monday.

The lighting will continue for one week.

- Posted to the web by Billy Wagness