The Sisters of St. Joseph have a long history of caring for the sick and injured members of their society. The story of health care provided by The Sisters of St. Joseph around Northern Ontario began in 1881 when the first sisters came from Toronto as missionaries to Port Arthur’s Landing (Thunder Bay). Their intent was to start a school and convent which they did. However, the need for health care soon became apparent when the sisters received a message asking them to go and pick up a man who had been in an accident while working on the construction of the CPR track line. They found the man lying in a box car with both legs severed. His legs, feet and boots were standing up in the corner. This man was brought to the convent where the sisters ministered to him. Two rooms in the convent were turned into hospital rooms as many more accidents spoke of an unmet need of the region. The first hospital was opened in 1884.
The logging camps across the region also had many men who required health care. At this time a pioneer sister, Mother Monica, began the first hospital insurance plan in the region when she traveled by CPR hand car to each of the logging camps. There she promised each worker that if they donated a day’s wage to the hospital, they would always have a bed there, without cost should they need it.
Over the years St. Joseph’s Hospital in Port Arthur/Thunder Bay responded to the unmet needs by continuing to modernize the care for the ill. Most recently, the focus of care has targeted the elderly population, palliative care, services for persons with addictions, rehabilitation and mental health programs.
The pioneer spirit meeting the unmet needs continued as hospitals were opened in North Bay, Sudbury, Blind River, Little Current and Elliot Lake where the sisters were invited to open a hospital when the mines began to develop. The first sister to arrive in Elliot Lake preceded the hospital building and before the building was completed continued the pioneer spirit by living in a trailer.
Today, the sisters no longer are the owners of the hospitals. Some hospitals have closed. However, those in Sudbury, Thunder Bay and Elliot Lake have been transferred to the sponsorship of the Catholic Health Corporation of Ontario (CHCO) which ensures the continuation of the ministry and legacy of our sisters. These institutions are Sudbury – St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Thunder Bay – St. Joseph’s Care Group and Elliot Lake – St. Joseph’s General Hospital.
Our goal in healthcare has always been to continue the healing mission of Jesus.
One of the important parts of healthcare is care for persons at the end of life. To this end St. Joseph’s Centre of Sudbury joined with other organizations to present an End of Life Forum.
St. Joseph's Villa Sudbury, ON
St. Joseph's Elliot Lake, ON St. Joseph's North Bay, ON
Sudbury Gerneral Hospital, Sudbury, ON