BUCKHANNON — St. Joseph’s Hospital held a special reception Thursday evening at the Event Center at Brushy Fork to honor their 2020 Campaign Donors and to announce the Foundation’s 2021 Campaign for Women’s Health.
St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation Board of Directors President John Haskins, St. Joseph’s Hospital President Skip Gjolberg and Women’s Health Campaign Co-Chair Traci Ellis presented the history of St. Joseph’s, its successes throughout the years, and what to anticipate with their 2021 campaign, focusing on women’s health.
President Gjolberg began the presentation by noting how St. Joseph’s came to be in 1920. Over the span of 100 years, St. Joseph’s Hospital has evolved from a multistory home, to a multistory hospital that serves the needs of many residents in central West Virginia.
The history of the hospital begins in 1838 when the Pallottine Sisters were founded. This group was reportedly formed to assist Roman Priest Vincent Pallotti with his life’s mission to “revive, strengthen, spread faith and enkindle charity throughout the world.”
In 1912, the first of the Pallottine Sisters made their way to the United States. The Sisters were set to sail the Titanic; however, one of the sisters did not have her travel documentation, so they decided to wait and sail on the “Bremen.” The Sisters passed through the wreckage of the Titanic and their own ship navigated its way safely through the icebergs.
Once arriving in the United States, the Sisters received a telegram from the Mother Superior of the Franciscans, asking them to wait until she could join them. The train that they missed to wait on her wrecked on the way to New York, killing several of the passengers. These events strengthened the Sisters’ faith and Gjolberg explained that the Sisters felt God was watching over them in their mission.
A short eight years later, the Sisters were invited to open a hospital in Buckhannon, West Virginia. By 1921, four Sisters purchased the four-story wooden and yellow bricked Barlow estate on the hilltop overlooking the town. With the help of friends and benefactors, the beautiful Barlow estate was converted into an eight-bed hospital. Gjolberg noted that the Sisters were and continue to be hard workers, as they did most of the work themselves, “even shoveling coal and running a farm.”
Since 1921, Gjolberg noted St. Joseph’s hospital has continued to expand in order to provide the best care possible through their healing mission of Jesus Christ. “We are inspired by the love of Christ to provide our community with quality healthcare in ways which respect the God-given dignity of each person and the sacredness of human life,” says their mission statement. “The Sisters wanted to carry on that mission, and we are now carrying it on for them at St. Joseph’s,” Gjolberg stated.
In 2014, St. Joseph’s Hospital converted to a Critical Access facility, as they no longer operated under the prospective payment system. Ultimately, this Critical Access status financially saved St. Joseph’s Hospital, according to Gjolberg. In 2015, the Pallottine Missionary Sisters transferred sponsorship of the hospital to United Hospital Center and WVU Medicine. That money was put back into the Pallottine Foundation to help support Upshur and surrounding communities through health-related activities.
This year, St. Joseph’s Hospital is celebrating 100 years of service to the community. “It’s just a testament to the hard work of all the people that have worked at St. Joe’s from the very beginning in 1921 to today—that we are still here and doing well… It’s just a blessing. I am blessed to be here. I’m blessed to have such a great team and I am blessed to have such a great foundation,” Gjolberg emphasized.
St. Joseph’s Hospital currently boasts 42 primary care and specialty care providers, a PromptCare walk-in clinic, level IV trauma emergency department and surgical suites, inpatient acute and critical care, and obstetrics. People used to have travel outside of Upshur County to receive specialized care, but now 80 to 90% of what people need, they can get right here, Gjolberg articulated. St. Joseph’s also currently offers an imaging suite and laboratory services, cardiology and cardiac rehab, chemotherapy and infusion center, and long-term nursing care facility.
In 2020, St. Joseph’s reportedly had 12,916 emergency room visits, 7,991 PromptCare walk-in clinic visits and 306 babies born. They were also named one of the top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in the country and the only one in the state of West Virginia by the Chartis Center for Rural Health. They were ranked in the top 20 Critical Access Hospitals for quality in the U.S. by the National Rural Health Association; awarded Gold Honors for its commitment to excellence by the West Virginia Hospital Association; ranked one of the Top Performers for Antibiotic Stewardship in the state; and ranked one of the Overall Top Performers in the state for its nursing home by U.S. News and World Report.
In 2020, St. Joseph’s Hospital Foundation campaign was “Every Heartbeat Matters.” From this campaign, the Foundation purchased new cardiology and cardiac rehab equipment including nustep machines, cardiac rehab treadmill, defibrillator, stress test equipment and trans-esophageal probe, according to Haskins.
This year, St. Joseph’s Foundation’s focus is to raise $225,000 for equipment specific to women’s health, in addition to new furnishings for their obstetrics unit. They have doubled their goal this year compared to last year, but Gjolberg noted that they’re already off to a great start.
These furnishings will include the beds that women are in when they’re delivering and comfortable seating/sleeping combos for their partners. They will be adding four postpartum beds, two couches that convert into beds, six sleep chairs for family members, eight cushioned gliding chairs and two corner pull-up tables. Additionally, there will be a portable ultrasound unit for the Center for Women’s Health added. This will enable physicians to immediately meet patients’ needs while they’re being seen in the clinic. The ultrasound can be used to check fetal heart tones, biopsy assessments, and other monitoring. With this campaign, St. Joseph’s is also hoping to replace six fetal monitoring systems, which check an unborn baby’s heart rate and help physicians detect if the baby is in distress and in need of a C-section.
If you are interested in supporting The Center for Women’s Health and OB Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital, there are there are six levels of giving: Benefactor at $10,000; Partner at $5,000; Supporter at $2,500; Contributor for $1,000; Patron for $500; and Friend at $100. Other ways to give include cash gifts, bequests in your will, non-cash gifts such as stocks and IRAs, annuity or trusts and heritage society. Donations can also be made through PayPal, by going to the Foundation page at www.stj.net. Co-chairing this campaign are Traci Ellis and Steve Holmes. Ellis explained that any donations towards the Women’s Health Campaign is appreciated.
Donors will be recognized in newsletters, on the St. Joseph’s website and on social media. Names of donors will be engraved on a plaque to be placed in the Obstetrics Department at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Additionally, donors will be honored and recognized at a special end-of-the-year reception.
St. Joseph’s Hospital captures the transformation of healthcare perfectly, as they continue to upgrade their facilities and fulfill the Pallottine Sisters’ mission to provide the community with quality healthcare in ways which respect the God-given dignity of each person and the sacredness of human life. This year, they will do so through women’s health.