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Sacred Heart Health System Celebrates 100th

Photo via Flickr// Jessica Whittle Photography & Sacred Heart Health Systems

Sacred Heart Health System marked a century of service earlier this month. On Sunday, its 100th birthday party was thrown at Bayfront Stadium.

The home of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos was transformed into a party venue, with jump houses, air slides a bungee trampoline and other attractions for the kids, and reduced price food and drink for all.

Among those enjoying the late summer sunshine was Karen Porter, a 37-year associate at Sacred Heart. She talked about seeing the technological evolution in healthcare.

“We were doing all paper [patient] charting, now we’re doing computer charting,” said Porter. “And we’re going to electronic records and no paper trail. The other changes are what technology has brought us in the medical field, and how much more we can now do.”

Credit Dave Dunwoody
Sacred Heart held a "birthday party" at the Community Maritime Park Sunday.

  Community leaders went to Emmetsburg, Maryland – where the Daughters of Charity are headquartered – and requested that they open a hospital in Pensacola. They acceded, and Pensacola Hospital – the original name -- was built at a cost of $400,000. That’s the equivalent of $9.3 million in today’s dollars.

“Today is about celebrating 100 years of caring and compassion that Sacred Heart has provided to this community” said President and CEO Susan Davis.

The first hospital was opened on 12th Avenue, outgrew the locale over a half-century, and then moved to its current site on 9th Avenue in 1965. Today, the system stretches from Mobile to Port St. Joe.

“Our mission is to provide care to the poor and vulnerable in our surrounding communities,” Davis said. “And it’s so much better to bring the care out to the community, than expect people to come in.”

When Sacred Heart Hospital first opened its doors in 1915, World War I was raging in Europe; Woodrow Wilson was in the White House, a first-class postage stamp was two cents, and women’s hemlines crept up to a scandalous mid-calf height.

As for the future, Davis says Sacred Heart’s campus in Pensacola is building services which are tertiary in nature.

“One of the programs that we’re going to bring to this community is kidney transplants,” Davis said. “There’s a tremendous need in our community. People have to travel a great distance to get access to transplants. They’ll be able to have it within the next six months, close to home.”

Credit Dave Dunwoody.
Sacred Heart Hospital was celebrated at the Blue Wahoos stadium.

  Also on hand were Mayor Ashton Hayward and his family. The Mayor and his son were born at Sacred Heart. First Lady An Hayward serves on a number of Sacred Heart boards, and says she got interested after the birth of their son, who spent some time in the hospital’s NICU – the Neonatal Intensive-Care Unit.

“For me, it’s really important for me to be involved in that aspect of it,” said Mrs. Hayward. “The children for me, that really is dearest to my heart. And I think we have a lot of children in this community with a lot of needs.”

As the celebration of its 100th anniversary wraps up, Sacred Heart Health Center will kick off its second centennial on Monday, by announcing a major project involving Children’s Hospital, which opened in 1969.