Early History of St. Joseph’s Hospital, Paterson, NJ

Extracted from Paterson and Its Environs, Vol. 11, 1920
by Willian Nelson and Charles Shriner

st_joe_hosp_1914_2

St. Joseph’s Hospital – ca. 1914

St. Joseph’s Hospital was founded by the Sisters of Charity in 1867.  The building first occupied by them was on Church street, between Market and Ellison streets.   The sisters were heartily welcomed to Paterson, as the city stood in sad need of a place where the indigent sick could be properly taken care of.  St. John’s Catholic congregation contributed $400 in cash and contributions of cash flowed in from a number of sources, prominent among the contributors being the societies attached to St. John’s Church.  The women also took an interest in the project and organized a society each of the members of which agreed to contribute $1.00 per month towards the support of the hospital.   The contributions amounted in all $2,566.15.  The quarters occupied by the Sisters soon proved too small and were also open to the objection of being in the centre of the city, with no grounds surrounding.  In 1869 the residence of Mr. A. A. Fonda on Main street, near the Newark railroad crossing, was purchased together with the nine acres of land surrounding.  Two years later the Sisters saw themselves compelled to add a wing, for the purpose of supplying the demands of the institution and providing for laundry, bakery and boiler house, the latter being deemed necessary in order to heat the building with steam.  The cost of the building and ground, together with the improvements made, amounted to $98,000, of which sum $52,000 remained a lien on the property.  With this load of indebtedness the Sisters entered in the era in the history of this country generally referred to as “the hard times.”  It was only by the exercise of the most rigid economy and the most strenuous endeavors that they succeeded not only in caring for the sick in their charge but also in looking after the alleviation of the distress consequent on the stringency of the times and the closing of most of the industrial establishments in the city.  For the purpose of affording employment to a few, the Sisters started an industrial school.

A visitation of smallpox in 1883 called attention to the fact that the city of Paterson had no isolated building for the treatment of contagious diseases.  On the grounds owned by the Sisters, far removed from any of the main hospital buildings, stood a frame structure, the gift of Rev. Dean McNulty, which had been used as a school.  This was turned into a ward for the treatment of contagious diseases.  In 1885 another wing was erected at a cost of $20,000 but the demands on the hospital soon exceeded the accommodations.  In 1907 the Sisters began making arrangements for the erection of what became the main building of the hospital.  The two buildings already occupied, with such additions as were made from time to time, were of wood.  It was now determined to erect a building of stone and brick.  Ground was broken in 1909 and the building was opened in 1912, the cost being $125,0-00.  A great deal of the success attained by the hospital was due to the ability and unremitting energy of a woman, who for many years directed the efforts of the Sisters, Sister Mary Clare.  She was born in Newark, December 18, 1844, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Reilley.  Her first application to be admitted to the educational institution of the Sister of Charity at Madison, was rejected on account of her youth.  She was admitted to the novitiate on June 29, 1865, and came to the Paterson hospital on August 11, 1869, and there, after a life devoted to the care of the sick, she died on April 26, 1919.

The record of patients treated in the hospital is as follows:

1868 – 102

1869 – 140

1870 – 227

1871 – 325

1871 – 417

1873 – 380

1874-no rec’d

1875 – 274

1876 – 264

1877 – 291

1878 – 369

1879 – 411

1880 – 603

1881 – 711

1882 – 727

1883 – 577

1884 – 541

1885 – 505

1886 – 594

1887 – 825

1888 – 608

1889 – 756

1890 – 746

1891 – 845

1892 – 875

1893 – 883

1894 – 990

1895 – 1203

1896 – 1395

1897 – 1587

1898 – 1594

1899 – 1657

1900 – 1980

1901 – 1923

1902 – 1975

1903 – 2306

1904 – 2356

1905 – 1468

1906 – 1631

1907 – 1677

1908 – 1502

1909 – 1577

1910 – 2003

1911 – 2137

1912 – 2313

1913 – 2508

1914 – 2618

1915 – 3092

1916 – 3535

1917 – 3619

1918 – 3824