UH St. John Medical Center Celebrates 43rd Anniversary

Executive Asst. Denise Davis, Jonathan Sague, COO, Shelly Loop, CNO, Kelsey Conn, Nurse Manager, and Angie Priede, Nurse Manager CCU, study UH SJMC archive materials.

UH St. John Medical Center in Westlake celebrated a very special anniversary with a luncheon last Thursday at the hospital.

Special guest was Sr. Judith Ann Karam, former president and CEO of The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and a founder of the hospital 43 years ago.

Warmly welcomed by current UH SJMC COO Jonathan Sague, Sr. Judith Ann presented a 30-minute overview of the founding of the hospital, originally named St. John West Shore Hospital.

The cornerstone for St. John West Shore Hospital was set in 1979 and the hospital opened in 1981. Sr. Judith Ann recalled the many challenges faced by the new facility as it came into being. SJWS Hospital represented a merger of the old Bay View Hospital (now Cashelmara Mansion in Bay Village, and St, John Hospital (now Augustine Manor) at 7801 Detroit Ave. in Cleveland.

Chaplain Ben Walther, CSA Archivist Marissa Ortosky-Dorante, Chaplain Dennis Kristof, UH Parma Medical Center President Brian Monter. CSA Senior Vice President Miguel Chavez, Sisters of Charity CEO Sr.Judith Ann Karam, UH SJMC COO Jonathan Sague. UH SJMC Chaplain Kendra Bottoms (ret.) and UH SJMC Chief Nursing Officer Shelly Loop.

St. John West Shore Hospital was revolutionary at the time. It combined two separate approaches to health care as Bay View was an osteopathic hospital and St. John was an allopathic hospital. SJWS also had to address matters of spiritual care and its impact on patient care as St. John came to the project as a Catholic hospital and Bay View as a non-Catholic hospital.

These challenges meant merging the MDs with the DOs, and It also meant accommodating the Catholic moral code. The solution, another revolutionary concept for the time – a condominium hospital with two separate towers to satisfy a wide range of needs. Sr. Judith Ann played the principal role in integration of the medical staff.

Sr. Judith Ann also recalled the opening of the hospital in 1981 and the sight of patients being transported to the new Westlake facility by bus from Bay View.

The opening of the hospital enjoyed much fanfare. “We had cars lining up bumper to bumper the whole length of Center Ridge Road at Columbia to the hospital,” she recalled of the ribbon-cutting open house.

Now, 43 years later, Sr. Judith Ann looks back fondly on the challenges and treasures the advocacy and support of all involved – Bay View, St. John, the Sisters of Charity and University Hospital – for making UH St. John Medical Center what it is today.

And she knew back in 1981 that it would be special because a baby was born there the day it opened and his parents named him John.

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