St. Mary’s General Hospital Marks 95th Anniversary

October 21st, 2019

Monday, October 21, 2019 marks 95 years since St. Mary’s General Hospital first opened its doors, beginning a legacy of compassionate and innovative patient-centered care in the spirit of its founders, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Hamilton.

Staff, physicians and volunteers will celebrate with a birthday cake on October 22 and a display of St. Mary’s artifacts from its archives.

St. Mary’s opened in 1924 with 122 beds, 20 bassinets, 12 volunteer sisters, 14 nursing students and about 12 local doctors. In its first year, the hospital cared for 380 patients, delivered 69 babies, performed 429 operations and treated 64 emergency cases.

Today, St. Mary’s has 147 beds and nearly 2,000 staff, physicians and volunteers. Annually, there are about 8,400 admissions, about 55,000 emergency department visits, 78,000 outpatient visits and more than 29,800 surgical procedures.

St. Mary’s is among national leaders for patient safety and quality in keeping with its vision to be the safest and most effective hospital in Canada, characterized by innovation, compassion and respect.  Its patient outcomes for cardiac care rank within the top three of Canadian cardiac care centres.

“Compassionate care is what makes St. Mary’s special. Patients say they feel it from the time they walk in the door until the time they leave,” says Susan Dusick, St. Mary’s General Hospital Foundation President. “At this milestone of 95 years, it is important to acknowledge and thank our community for its loyal support and to our staff for their unwavering commitment to our patients.”

St. Mary’s serves a population of nearly one million people in Waterloo Wellington, Grey, Bruce, Perth, Huron and beyond.

Arianna Ongaro, Communications Specialist


What is now 911 Queen’s Boulevard was purchased by the Sisters of St. Joseph for $8,500. It was at the end of a dirt road on the outskirts of Kitchener.

Construction starts on St. Mary’s with the help of $150,000 raised by the community.

October 21, St. Mary’s opens a three-storey building under the direction of Sister Mary Bonaventure Halloran. Also in 1924 St. Mary’s School of Nursing opens with 12 students. By 1974 when the last class graduated, St. Mary’s had trained about 1,200 nurses.

Construction began on a $5.5 million 10-storey tower, tripling the size of the hospital to 354 beds, expanding services and adding a new emergency department.

Obstetrics was transferred to Grand River Hospital, ending an era at St. Mary’s which saw 130,000 babies born.

Fears that St. Mary’s might close due to hospital provincial hospital restructuring sparked a grass roots campaign. More than 100,000 people signed a Save St. Mary’s petition and business leaders successfully lobbied the government for badly needed services.

Full cardiac services begin at St. Mary’s Regional Cardiac Care Centre, including heart surgery and angioplasty.

New 100,000 square foot addition opens with $10 million in community support. Included is new clinical and support service space, state of the art operating rooms and enhanced outpatient areas.

St.  Mary’s becomes the first hospital in Ontario and second in Canada to introduce a real-time emergency department wait time clock on its website.

St. Mary’s celebrates 10 years of Thoracic and Respiratory Excellence, as well as the 90th anniversary of the hospital.

St. Mary’s introduced Enhanced Recovery After Surgery for lung cancer patients that allows them to go home the same or next day after having part of a lung removed. St. Mary’s is believed to be the first hospital in Canada to fully implement the approach for lung cancer surgery.

St. Mary’s Cardiac Program introduces a minimally invasive heart procedure for high risk patients with severe aortic stenosis. The Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) procedure is performed by a team of interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons.

The Ross procedure is introduced at St. Mary’s with the first procedure performed in November. This is a procedure involves both aortic and pulmonary heart valves are replaced with human valves, leaving patients less likely to experience complications that can arise from mechanical valves.

St. Mary’s achieves results of Accredited with Exemplary Standing from our on-site Accreditation survey in June. This is the highest rating for a Canadian hospital.