Saint Joseph marks 150 years providing health care in Denver

October 2023

Denver's Saint Joseph Hospital is the city's largest teaching hospital. It was founded in 1873 by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.


Saint Joseph Hospital is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a series of events, including a gala, blessing of caregivers' hands and a "Mega Cookie Monday," carrying on a tradition of the hospital's foundresses, the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, to deliver freshly baked cookies to caregivers throughout the facility.

Three Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth look over blueprints for a $7.5 million building and expansion for Saint Joseph Hospital. From left are Sr. Mary Pierre, SCL, head of the pediatrics department; Sr. Mary Asella, SCL; and Sr. Mary Kieran, SCL, head of the surgical department. This image appeared in the Denver Catholic Register on May 28, 1959.

Saint Joseph traces its roots to 1873, when Mother Xavier Ross of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, sent four sisters west with $9 to start a hospital. In Denver, they solicited funds from miners, cowboys and others to begin providing health care services out of a cottage.

Soon after, the sisters moved the hospital into a brick building in an area that some community members called out as questionable since it was known to have prostitutes. "We'll take the question out of the neighborhood," one of the sisters said.

In 1876, the sisters began construction of a new facility on land donated by the territorial governor. A flour baron led a fund-raising campaign for that campus' construction. According to information from the hospital, through a citywide bazaar and a monster euchre party organized by "the unsinkable" Molly Brown, the campaign raised $10,000. The site was the first private teaching hospital in Denver and remains the city's largest such facility.

The hospital relocated to a replacement facility in 1961 and then to another replacement facility — at its current location — in 2014.

Today Saint Joseph is a 400-bed hospital with more than 2,600 staff and nearly 1,600 physicians. It provides emergency care, heart and vascular care, labor and delivery services, oncology services, orthopedics, respiratory therapy, surgery and other services. It has clinical partnerships with Kaiser Permanente and National Jewish Health.

Saint Joseph became part of Intermountain Health when Saint Joseph's parent company SCL Health merged with Intermountain in April 2022.


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