Catholic Health was formed in 1998, when, at the urging of Bishop Henry J. Mansell, several hospitals, nursing homes and clinics operated by religious orders, Catholic Charities and the Diocese of Buffalo came together under one organization.
Kenmore Mercy Hospital
Kenmore Mercy Hospital opened on October 7, 1951 on a parcel of land bequeathed to the Sisters of Mercy by James Sullivan, a former student of Sr. Mary Bernadine at St. Brigid’s School in Buffalo.
The opening marked the culmination of a vision that began in 1944 when Rev. Timothy Ring, Pastor of St. Paul’s Parish in Kenmore, and Dr. Daniel Stedem, a local physician, met with the Sisters, who sponsored Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo, and asked them to consider building a hospital in Kenmore.
Soon after, Sr. Mary Mechtilde O’Connor, the hospital’s first administrator, moved to Kenmore to begin “friendraising” and fundraising for the proposed hospital.
It was not long after the 100-bed hospital opened that Kenmore Mercy outgrew its six stories and another fundraising effort was launched to build the North and South “Wings of Mercy.” Ground was broken in 1956 and the additions were completed in 1959.
Mercy Hospital of Buffalo
The Sisters of Mercy were founded in Ireland in 1831 by Catherine McAuley, a beautiful heiress who gave herself to the church and the care of the poor at the age of 52. Her selfless spirit of comfort infused the young order.
Bishop Timon brought the first four Sisters of Mercy from nearby Rochester to assist with schooling and support at the new St. Brigid’s parish, but they soon saw a clear need for a hospital in the burgeoning community. They opened a 30-bed hospital in a home on Tifft Street in 1904, launching Mercy Hospital of Buffalo, a South Buffalo commitment to community and care now more than a century in the making.
The beginnings of suburbia in Western New York brought the vision and commitment of the Sisters of Mercy to the northtowns with the founding of Kenmore Mercy Hospital in 1951.
Sisters of Charity Hospital
The 1840s was a decade of firsts. Buffalo was a booming transportation hub. Canal and lake shipping were about to be overshadowed by the first railroad route connecting through to the east. The first grain elevator, first university, first elected mayor and first Roman Catholic bishop claimed their roles in the growing town.
Newly appointed Bishop John Timon wasted little time in traveling to Baltimore to request the services of the Sisters of Charity – a religious community of women established in America by Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton – to create the city’s first hospital. Six Sisters returned to Buffalo with him – three for the hospital and three for an asylum and school.
In a house at the corner of Pearl and Virginia Streets, Sister Ursula Mattingly (who tackled 22 assignments in 44 years as “one of God’s trouble shooters”) took matters in hand as the first President of the Board of Sisters of Charity Hospital. Chartered as the first regional hospital in October 1848, it was sorely tested by a devastating cholera outbreak in 1849. Sister Ursula’s willingness to take a chance on new therapies resulted in an astounding recovery of 80 of the 134 cholera patients admitted to the small center.
No task, medical or political was beyond her challenge. When the No Nothing Party insisted there be no public payment to religious institutions for public services, she fought alongside her friend Bishop Bernard O’Reilly to win a $9,000 reimbursement from the state legislature.
And thus began the local tradition of medical, spiritual and fiscal stewardship still celebrated daily throughout Catholic Health.
Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus (formerly St. Joseph Hospital)
Mother Colette Hilbert of Poland founded the Franciscan Sisters of St. Joseph in 1897 and was missioned to Pittsburgh. When the others were recalled to Poland, Mother Colette chose to stay and minister to the growing Polish immigrant population in the United States, eventually settling in Buffalo, primarily to teach in the schools. The ministry grew to include healthcare and social service ministries throughout the U.S. and overseas.
Following the release of New York State’s "Healthcare Facilities in the 21st Century" Report, also known as the Berger Commission, in 2006, St. Joseph Hospital was slated for closure. The decision was later overturned after the State agreed to keep the Cheektowaga hospital open as part of Sisters Hospital.
Sisters of Charity Hospital successfully merged with St. Joseph Hospital in April 2009, forming a two-campus acute facility. The hospital site is now known as Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus.
Father Baker Manor
Subacute Rehabilitation Facility & Nursing Home
Father Baker Manor is a 160-bed, residential nursing facility located below Chestnut Ridge Park just south of the village of Orchard Park. The facility opened in 1994 and is dedicated to the memory of Monsignor Nelson Baker.
It originally began as a joint venture between St. Joseph Hospital (now Sisters of Charity Hospital, St. Joseph Campus) of Cheektowaga, Our Lady of Victory Hospital of Lackawanna and Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.
The ground breaking of this facility coincided with the anniversary of Monsignor Baker’s ordination to the priesthood on March 19, 1876.
St. Catherine Labouré Health Care Center
In 1973, Sister Rosa Daley presented the need for a long-term care facility at Sisters Hospital of Buffalo. Following Sister Daley’s proposal, it was decided by a joint meeting of the Lay Advisory Board, Medical Staff and Board of Directors that Sisters Hospital would construct an 80-bed long-term care facility.
The nursing home was one of the first in the area erected as part of an existing hospital. In 1976, guided by trends in healthcare, the long-term care facility transitioned to a Medicare-certified skilled nursing facility.
On May 10, 1990, under the administration of Sister Angela Bontempo, the facility invoked the name of St. Catherine Labouré Health Care Center. St. Catherine Labouré, Daughter of Charity, devoted her life to providing care for the elderly.
In 2011, Catholic Health's adult day health care program, previously part of St. Francis of Buffalo (closed in 2009), was moved to St. Catherine Labouré’s campus.
Subacute Rehabilitation Facility & Nursing Home
McAuley Residence opened in February of 1993 and is named after the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley.
It opened with 160 beds, combining two existing facilities, Catherine McAuley Manor (the former Abbey Nursing Home) on Elmwood Avenue, and Kenmore Mercy Hospital Skilled Nursing Facility, located on the third and fourth floor of Kenmore Mercy Hospital.
OLV Senior Neighborhood
Father Baker was a Civil War veteran and well-established businessman before entering the priesthood. His ever-growing ministry of social and human services was fueled by his faith, courage and business acumen. When his advisors suggested it was necessary to expand the new hospital to the general community, Our Lady of Victory Hospital was born in 1920.
After the hospital became a part of Catholic Health, Our Lady of Victory (OLV) was combined into Mercy Hospital.
Faced with closure in 1999, Catholic Health promised the Lackawanna Community that we would develop a viable re-use of the campus. Research showed the needs of the frail and elderly in the Southtowns were not being met. A comprehensive plan was developed, and the renaissance of the former OLV Hospital began.
The plan included low-to-moderate income apartments, a nursing home, a program of all-inclusive care for the elderly, and community spaces inside and the surrounding outside areas.
In 2008, the facility became the Our Lady of Victory (OLV) senior neighborhood, a comprehensive, state-of-the-art living facility for senior citizens.
Mercy Nursing Facility at OLV
Originally established in 1970, Mercy Nursing Facility (MNF) responded to a need within the hospital for patients who had nowhere else to go. These patients had conditions that made them difficult to place in community nursing homes. The initial capacity of the facility was 30 residents.
The facility was expanded twice since 1970, adding 30 additional beds and then another 14 beds. As a hospital-based nursing facility, MNF became part of Catholic Health in 1998.
LIFE – Living Independently for Elders
LIFE is an innovative model of care for elders who require skilled care, but choose to remain in their homes in the community. The LIFE Center was opened in November of 2009 and is housed on the main level of the Neighborhood. Developed by Catholic Health's Continuing Care ministry, the supervisory role of LIFE was transferred to Catholic Health Home Care in 2009.
St. Francis of Williamsville
Subacute Rehabilitation Facility & Nursing Home
In 1861, Rev. John Timon, Bishop of Buffalo, invited The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis from Philadelphia to extend their ministry to Buffalo.
The sisters began their work by visiting the sick and elderly in their homes, but it soon became apparent that they needed a residence in which to care for the homeless and elderly people in Buffalo. The sisters were eventually able to purchase a lot on Pine Street in the city for $800.
During the years at the Pine Street location, the only funds available for the financing of construction and additions came from what the sisters could solicit themselves. However, in 1924, with the organization of Catholic Charities, a much-needed supplemental funding source was provided.
In 1954, ground was broken in Williamsville for a new St. Francis Home, which expanded to 142 beds.
St. Francis of Williamsville has been serving the elderly in the Buffalo area for over 150 years, and since 1998 has continued to serve as part of Catholic Health's Continuing Care ministry.
St. Elizabeth’s of Lancaster
On September 15, 1959, St. Elizabeth’s of Lancaster was incorporated under the laws of the State Board of Social Welfare. Its purpose was to engage in religious and charitable works by establishing and operating a home for the aged under the auspices of the Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
The Sisters of St. Francis of the Third Order Regular who had cared for the aged in St. Francis Home of Gardenville for 70 years came to staff the Lancaster Home. The Franciscan Sisters resided in the residence that once belonged to Dr. J. Novak, who donated the Lancaster property to Catholic Charities of Buffalo.
On October 5, 1959, 78 residents were transferred from St. Francis Home, Gardenville to St. Elizabeth’s Home, Lancaster and increased their capacity to 102 residents. In 1994, St. Ann’s wing was officially opened, bringing St. Elizabeth’s to its present number of 117 beds.
St. Vincent’s of Dunkirk
St. Vincent’s Home for the Aged was established in 1913 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Diocese of Buffalo, which grew out of the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society of St. Mary’s Church, located directly across the street from St. Vincent’s of Dunkirk.
The first building of St. Vincent’s Home was a small wooden cottage that accommodated up to eight women. The cottage was replaced with a two-story building in 1926 that served as a residence for 23 women.
In 1955, it was decided by the Buffalo Diocese that a new home for well-aging men and women would be constructed. The cornerstone of the new St. Vincent’s Home was laid on October 2, 1956.