On a rainy, windy evening in November 1898, two members of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, along with their spiritual director, arrived in Birmingham from St. Louis. As described by author Tom Wofford in The St. Vincent’s Story: A Century of Caring, the world they stepped into was a frightful place.
“The city…drew its life’s blood from iron and steel and coal, and these industries created a hard-living, grimy atmosphere. City sewers emptied into Valley and Village Creeks. Much of the city’s water supply was unfiltered and polluted. There were frequent mining and furnace accidents, many more serious than the company infirmaries could treat. Tuberculosis and typhoid were common. There had been a smallpox epidemic for the second year in a row. Birmingham was a city in need. Even though there were more than 100,000 people in the immediate vicinity, the city had no hospital.”
The travelers, however, had come south to start a hospital, so they did. Almost immediately, they rented an old mansion on 15th Street South and opened the doors to patients.
Flash forward 125 years from that bleak evening in 1898. Birmingham gradually moved away from its dependence on industries of the earth to an economy based on healthcare, finance, technology, and education. In the meantime, St. Vincent’s Hospital grew, not only in terms of bricks and mortar, but in its capacity to offer more services to more people over a wider geographic area.
In 2007, St. Vincent’s Hospital merged with Eastern Health System to form St. Vincent’s Health System, now Ascension St. Vincent’s, which operates five hospitals and more than 25 healthcare facilities.
Harking back to its roots, Ascension St. Vincent’s maintains its strong faith-based approach to patient care and offers a continuing commitment to excellence in term of facilities, staffing, and technology.
“Over the years, St. Vincent’s has continued to improve and adapt to meet the increasing needs of the Birmingham area,” said Jim Gorrie, CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie, who is serving as co-chair of the Ascension St. Vincent’s 125th Anniversary Gala. “Several new facilities and services have been added and key strategic partnerships have been incorporated. The strategic partnership with UAB is a very important alliance as the system looks to meet the growing needs of our community for the next 125 years.”
On January 12, 2024, community leaders, medical professionals, and philanthropic-minded individuals will gather at The Club in Birmingham for Ascension St. Vincent’s 125th Anniversary Gala. Proceeds from the event will support nursing education scholarships and the Care of the Poor Fund.
“I am grateful to serve as co-chair of the 125th Anniversary Gala with my good friend, Jim Gorrie, and the countless others who helped exceed our fundraising goal,” said John Sherman, who retired in 2022 as president and CEO of Coca-Cola Bottling Company UNITED. “Many have experienced the community impact of Ascension St. Vincent’s health ministry, including my wife, Terry, and me. We have been blessed by the opportunity to be a part of it and to witness the ‘miracles.’”
Call 205-558-3850 or visit the events page to purchase tickets to the Gala.