Caring for the sick and the needy since 1875
In 1844, a Franciscan priest named Fr. Christopher Bernsmeyer, OFM, founded an order of religious women, the Sisters of Charity. The sisters had a simple mission: to help the needy and provide care for the sick in their homes. By 1880, the name for this order of sisters had changed to The Hospital Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.
In 1875, three of these sisters traveled from their Motherhouse in Muenster, Germany to begin a healthcare mission in Belleville. An old school house of St. Peter’s parish was quickly renovated into a hospital and convent.
With its primitive equipment, the small hospital had barely enough room for the sisters and, in case of emergency, six patients. For the next five years, the sisters’ lived in their hospital, focusing on nursing the sick in their homes.
By 1880, their mission was growing and the little schoolhouse could no longer accommodate the growing number of patients. So the sisters built a larger hospital — one that would house 58 patients — on the grounds where St. Elizabeth’s stands today. Many additions and renovations followed until the 1950s, when most of the original structure was razed and replaced with beautiful, new state-of-the-art facilities.
Belleville and the surrounding area, meanwhile, continued to grow. Serious epidemics, from scarlet fever to polio, were brought to St. Elizabeth’s for care. The hospital kept pace with changes in healthcare and new technologies, building a reputation as a leader in healthcare for Southern Illinois.
Since its completion in 1954, St. Elizabeth’s Hospital has more than quadrupled in size, with the addition of medical office buildings and other facilities. With outpatient facilities in communities like O’Fallon, Columbia, and Mascoutah, the hospital continues to look for ways to make healthcare more accessible and convenient.
With all the changes and growth over the past 130 years, the mission of the founding sisters remains unchanged: to provide care for the sick and needy with a spirit of respect, care, competence and joy.
St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is an affiliate of Hospital Sisters Health System.
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