By Kathy Schmugge
COLUMBIA — On Oct. 1, Bishop Robert J. Baker blessed and dedicated a milestone in the history of Providence Heart Institute, the opening of its new addition. It features a ground-level entrance, two additional patient floors, 48 private rooms, catheterization lab, and prep/recovery catheterization area.
Almost 66 years ago to the day, the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine held a special chapter meeting to discuss the feasibility of opening a hospital in Columbia. After mortgaging their motherhouse in Ohio to finance the venture, Providence Hospital was built. But the founding sisters never imagined how the hospital, named after Our Lady of Providence, has grown and the vast number of people it has served in that time.
“May our Lady of Providence protect all who enter here,” said Sister Miriam Erb, the congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, during the invocation. She asked all to pray with hearts of gratitude, joy, and appreciation for the addition and hearts of concern, compassion and love for patients and their families.
Erb believes the new addition is part of a continued effort to fulfill the hospital’s mission and the mission of the sisters by meeting “the needs of the time by an expression of Christian concern for the sick, suffering and dying; to manifest love, truth and justice in health care; to promote the advancement and application of new knowledge about health care.” One of those needs is care for the growing and aging population across the state according to Steve Purves, president and CEO of Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals.
Sister Judith Ann Karam, president and CEO of CSA Health Systems, praised the combined effort of the entire staff, volunteers and community for making Providence the preferred hospital for heart care.
John W. Folsom, chairman of the board of trustees, thanked Sister of Charity Sister Mary Jacob, who was unable to attend. “She embraced a vision that resulted in Providence becoming the premier cardiovascular hospital in South Carolina,” he said.
Bishop Baker explained the importance of the blessing he extended on the building and the hand-carved statue of Our Lady of Providence given by the Sisters of Charity Providence Hospitals Auxiliary.
“A blessing is an act of faith and an entrustment of our efforts to God’s providential care. It is an expression of our need for the Lord’s support, wisdom, guidance, devotion, affection, compassion, and affirmation of our human efforts,” he said.
Ann Humphries, who attended the ceremony, said, “The service was grounding for me. We are all so busy, but the mission of the sisters and the hospital is what we all want and why we were created. The depth of caring of these sisters is something so genuine and pure.”