By KATHY SCHMUGGE
COLUMBIA — Two great moments in history collided on May 15: The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine (CSA) celebrated their 150th anniversary and Providence Hospital, founded by the sisters, began with a ground blessing an estimated $29.7 million expansion of the Providence Heart Institute.
It was a day when Columbia officials praised the past, present and future accomplishments of the sisters. Columbia Mayor Bob Coble with the Columbia City Council proclaimed the day, “Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Day” to express the city’s appreciation of the work done by the religious community. In the proclamation he thanked the sisters for responding to “the invitation to come to Columbia in 1938 to begin a Catholic hospital” making the “tremendous sacrifice” of mortgaging their motherhouse in Ohio to begin the project, demonstrating their true commitment to health services for the state.
Congregational leader, Sister of Charity of St. Augustine Sister Nancy Hendershot, who said the invocation and received the mayor’s plaque, thanked Columbia for their continued invitation and support. “It is a privilege to serve with you in God’s name. People have been touched and their health restored as together we share with faith, hope, and confidence because God is with all of us,” said Sister Hendershot,who explained how there is a sacred covenant between Providence Hospital and anyone who walks through their doors.
Gratitude also came from Bishop Robert J. Baker, who performed the ground blessing. “Many souls and spirits have been healed and inspired by the work of the sisters,” said the bishop, who spoke of their commitment to the Lord Jesus to bring his healing presence to Providence. “God bless you sisters as you serve to spread the kingdom of God making this building reflect the heart of the Lord our God.
“This new addition to Providence Hospital brings the professional core that will not only keep hearts beating but will bring the healing presence of Christ as well. We thank the CSA for their continued presence among us which reflects the heart of Christ reaching out with his healing and help,” Bishop Baker said.
Sister of Charity of St. Augustine Sister Judith Ann Karam, who sees the expansion as an essential part to their Catholic mission, said, “We have found the need for additional capacity so we can take care of the increasing number of people who come to Providence Hospital because of its reputation as the premier cardiovascular center in the state of South Carolina.”
Sister Karam, president and CEO, CSA Health System; Stephen Purves, president and CEO, Providence Hospitals; John Folsom, chairman of Providence Board of Governors; and Charles Evans, president and CEO of the Southeast Division of HCA, were some organization leaders directly involved with the hospital who were present at the ground breaking and spoke of the exciting future of the Providence Hospital, thanking those who have made such an endeavor possible.
The major construction of two additional floors to include 48 new beds and a new cardiac catheterization prep and recovery unit will begin in July. The downtown hospital also plans to relocate the intensive care unit and add six new beds for the unit.
Sister of Charity of St. Augustine Sister Mary Patricia Barrett, vice president of Mission and Ministry, who attended the ceremony, sees the implementation of the expansion program as a way for Providence Hospital and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine to continue to respond to the health care needs of the people of South Carolina. Sister Barrett works with staff as a resource person to ensure that the mission and values of CSA are being implemented, values such as charity care, just treatment of employees and ministering to the spiritual needs of the patient, their family and the staff. Through their fully funded pastoral care program, a competent staff and numerous volunteers, Sister Barrett has been satisfied with the results and response to the annual mission audit she has conducted at the hospital.
As the Sisters of St. Charity of St. Augustine celebrate 150 years, South Carolina has benefited from their commitment to their charism of charity in their lives and in their service. With the Providence expansion, the sisters in partnerships with HCA continue to fulfill their mission to “seek to meet the needs of our times by an expression of Christian concern for the sick, suffering and dying … by manifesting love, truth, and justice for the persons we serve and with whom we work, and by promoting the advancement of new knowledge which will promote health.”