St. Joseph of Kokomo, Ind., marks centennial

March 15, 2013


St. Joseph Hospital of Kokomo, Ind., marked its 100th anniversary Feb. 6 with a prayer service and a celebration to thank caregivers for their service.

The hospital's foundresses, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Tipton, Ind., were a congregation of 38 serving as teachers and nurses when in 1912 a physician asked them to open a hospital in Kokomo. The sisters canvassed Kokomo community members for three days to get money to build a hospital, but they only raised 10 cents, according to a 100th anniversary press release. Another doctor allowed them to convert a homestead he owned into a temporary, 12-bed hospital. The sisters welcomed their first patients Feb. 6, 1913.

Oral history holds that once the community saw how convenient it was to have a hospital, as opposed to having to be treated at home or to travel about 50 miles to an Indianapolis hospital, it got behind a second fund-raising campaign, according to Sandy Herman, system lead for facility marketing for St. Joseph. That effort raised tens of thousands of dollars that the sisters used to buy a new building. They opened a 60-bed hospital there in November 1914.

About nine years later, the Ku Klux Klan rallied in Kokomo and collected funds to build a competing hospital so patients would not have to "suffer the indignity of being born and dying in a Catholic hospital," according to historical records. The Klan-funded hospital opened in 1925 but failed financially and closed in 1930. The sisters bought the building and moved their hospital into it in 1936.

The Daughters of Charity assumed sponsorship of St. Joseph in 1994. The hospital was part of a 1998 merger that formed St. Vincent Health. Today, St. Joseph is a 167-bed acute care facility.


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