In 1860, Mother Theresia Bonzel established the Sisters of Saint Francis in Olpe Germany. They took as their patron saint, Saint Francis of Assisi, who rejected wealth and prosperity to serve the poor. Six of these sisters journeyed to the United States in 1875 and established several houses, including one in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In 1883, the sisters were called by a local citizens committee and Bishop James O’Connor of Omaha to establish a hospital in Grand Island, Nebraska, a town that had grown to 1,900 with the arrival of the Union Pacific Railroad and the Pike’s Peak Gold Rush. Working with the local citizens committee, they raised funding which lead to the 1887 opening of Saint Francis Hospital on Adams Street.
Throughout its history, Saint Francis has expanded to meet the community need. Four years after opening a new wing was added. Three more additions were completed and the front entrance was moved to Charles Street by 1920. The Saint Francis Nursing School opened in 1920 and trained nurses until 1980. A large expansion in 1924 included six operating rooms and an obstetrics department. In 1937, on its fiftieth anniversary, Saint Francis Hospital was one of the best-equipped institutions in Nebraska.
In 1975, 26.6 acres of land was purchased for a new hospital on Faidley Avenue. Saint Francis Medical Center was dedicated on December 3, 1978, and remains on the site today.
Saint Francis purchased Grand Island Memorial Hospital on April 1, 1987 and renamed it Saint Francis Memorial Health Center. Expanding specialty services and its regional presence, the Saint Francis Cancer Treatment Center opened in 1992. A new Birthing Center opened in 1996 with comfortable birthing suites and ground-breaking mother/baby nursing care.
In 1987 the Sisters of Saint Francis transferred sponsorship to with the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. The Sisters of Charity Healthcare Operations became a founding member of Catholic Health Initiatives in 1996.
In 1999, as the medical community grew to nearly 100 physicians, an Ambulatory Surgery Center and Imaging Center were built as joint ventures with local physicians.
In 2005, Saint Francis broke ground on a nine-story addition. The new 159-bed patient tower, was dedicated on September 14, 2007 by The Most Reverend William Dendinger, Bishop of the Diocese of Grand Island, Michael Rowan, Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Health Initiatives, and community leaders from Central Nebraska.
In the same year, for our commitment to quality medical care and performance excellence, Saint Francis became the first and only hospital in Nebraska to receive the Edgerton Quality Award’s highest honor, the Award of Excellence.
Saint Francis has embraced programs outside hospital walls in efforts to create healthier communities. In 1994 Saint Francis began training parish nurses to provide holistic healthcare to local faith communities. The Student Wellness Center opened in 1997 at Grand Island Senior High offering healthcare services to students. In 2004, Saint Francis was named a finalist for the American Hospital Association's Foster McGaw Prize for community service.
While Saint Francis Medical Center has grown into a regional healthcare facility, at its core it has changed very little. We remain a dedicated servant of the Catholic healing ministry led by representatives of our local community, and -- as in our very first hospital --compassionate care, a dedication to healing and a commitment to our community serve as our foundation.