Mission, values and history

Our mission and values

Our Mission – our core reason for being – has created and fostered a culture of innovation, compassion, and respect at St. Mary’s for more than 90 years.

We remain committed to our Mission – to continue the healing ministry of Christ, consistent with our Catholic traditions and values.

Our values:

We believe in the sacredness of life and the dignity of all people.

We are committed to:

  • Heal, comfort, teach and promote health for the whole person – body, mind and spirit;
  • Encouraging independence and self-responsibility;
  • Serving those in need especially the poor and vulnerable;
  • Being a responsible corporate citizen and neighbour;
  • Use our resources wisely;
  • Excellence, innovation and compassion in all we do;
  • Promoting an organizational spirit by encouraging participation, responsibility, continued learning and mutual respect

Patient Declaration of Values:

Ontario’s Excellent Care for All Act requires hospitals to have a Patient Declaration of Values.

The following values statement was developed by the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network’s Patient and Family Advisory Committee, in collaboration with 20 other patient and family groups from across the region, including representatives from all local hospitals.

The Waterloo Wellington Patient Declaration of Values states that patients can expect their health care to include:

  • Patient-centred care that understands you are a whole person; treats you with compassion and respect; and includes your family and support system in your care.
  • A partnership with your care provider that shares responsibility and accountability with you; provides care and support to achieve your health goals; and considers all your health needs, connecting you to health and community services.
  • Communication that allows you to be heard in a safe and caring environment; provides clear health information that you can understand; and shares open and transparent information with you and your care teams.
  • Equitable care that puts your needs first regardless of your situation; eliminates barriers to receiving timely and safe services; and is free of prejudice, stigma and judgment.
  • Continuous improvement in health care that provides you with access to the best quality of care; increases access to new innovative technology and treatments; and contributes to your confidence and trust in the health system.

Our history

Although our origins stretch back to 1916, St. Mary’s General Hospital opened its doors on October 21, 1924. Founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton, St. Mary’s Mission is rooted in the values demonstrated by the Sisters – to serve those in need with compassion, dignity, and respect.

Under the direction of the first St. Mary’s Superintendent, Sister M. Bonaventure Halloran, the first patients were welcomed and cared for by 12 volunteer Sisters, 14 student nurses and about 12 local physicians. Among St. Mary’s first doctors were Dr. H.M. Lackner (who performed the first surgery at St. Mary’s), Dr. C.R. McCarville, Dr. L.J. Crowley, Dr. Hartley Henderson, Dr. H.H. Huehnergard, and Dr. H.J. McNally. The most common conditions treated were fractures, appendicitis and tonsillitis.

During its first year, the staff cared for 380 patients, delivered 69 babies, performed 429 operations and treated 64 emergency cases. By 1929, salaries and wages totaled $11,268.16, and the daily cost per patient was $2.19. The Hospital now boasts a staff of about 1,200 full and part-time employees, and an annual budget of approximately $130 million.

St. Mary’s School of Nursing was founded in 1924, and its first class graduated in 1927. A new nurses’ residence and school building was opened in 1931 behind the Hospital. Throughout the history of the St. Mary’s School of Nursing, the training program was constantly revised to provide a balance between classroom education and bedside nursing, and to incorporate new discoveries in medicine and techniques in nursing.

St. Mary’s many successes could not have been accomplished without the support of many volunteers. William J. Motz was the first Chairman of the Advisory Board, which was established in 1927. Today, his grandchildren, former owners of the Kitchener-Waterloo Record, continue to carry out the same dedicated service which he began.

St. Mary’s underwent a major expansion and transformation between 1959 and 1962, with substantial community and government support. The addition of a 10-storey tower increased St. Mary’s ability to care for a rapidly growing and expanding community. During that time, the hospital’s name was changed from St. Mary’s Hospital to “St. Mary’s General Hospital” to reflect its ecumenical mission to serve everyone, regardless of religious affiliation.

In 1989, after a rationalization process with the Kitchener-Waterloo Hospital (now Grand River Hospital), St. Mary’s changed its role from being an “all purpose” hospital to a specialist in adult medicine and surgery.

St. Mary’s General Hospital is governed by a Board of Trustees of local citizens who have autonomy to operate the hospital in a manner that best serves the health care needs of the local population, while respecting the values and teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, as they relate to the sanctity of life and other ethical issues.

In 1999, St. Mary’s General Hospital was named as the site for the new Regional Cardiac Care Centre. Since that time, St. Mary’s Cardiac Program has developed a reputation of excellence, providing diagnostic, interventional and surgical programs.

St. Mary’s grew again in 2008, with the opening of 100,000 square feet of new clinical and support service space, including state-of-the-art operating suites and enhanced outpatient care areas.

In 2013, St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre celebrated its 10th anniversary, and in 2014, St. Mary’s also celebrated 10 years of Thoracic and Respiratory Excellence.

For 90 years, the Sisters of St. Joseph have maintained their tradition of ministering to the sick – an honor which dates back over two and a half centuries. The staff, physicians, and volunteers at St. Mary’s strive to carry forward the legacy of the Sisters by providing the finest possible health care. Their caring skills and insistence on excellence are a testament to the leadership and vision of the Sisters, and it is a privilege to continue their legacy by living the Mission and Values they held in such high regard.