History of Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center

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The main number to Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center is:
(860) 714-4000 

Toll-free number,
for callers outside the local area:
1 (800) 993-4312 

Regular Mail Address:
114 Woodland St
Hartford, CT, 06105-1208 

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1897Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center has come a long way since 1897, when the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Chambéry overcame near-impossible odds to open a two-room hospital in Hartford’s Asylum Hill neighborhood.  The new hospital offered a refuge for immigrants who wanted to know that their faith and traditions would be understood and appreciated if they ever needed inpatient care.

From the beginning, Saint Francis served on the front lines against outbreaks of then-deadly infectious diseases, from typhoid fever to influenza and later polio. At the same time, Saint Francis doctors were quick to recognize that improving health required more than clinical work, and the first research laboratory opened in 1902, the same year that tuberculosis was reaching epic proportions in Hartford and across the United States.
Learn more about our history.

Typhoid to High-Tech

While better sanitation, vaccines and antibiotics have tamed many of the early killers, Saint Francis is even busier today, tackling the healthcare threats and ailments of the modern world with technology and medical interventions that the founding sisters could not even imagine. But the very tenets upon which the hospital was founded – clinical excellence coupled with compassionate caring – have never changed.

In 1990, Saint Francis affiliated with Mount Sinai Hospital, a Jewish-sponsored institution that opened in 1923. Mount Sinai was born of a vision similar to the one that led to the founding of Saint Francis decades earlier. The collaboration marked the first recorded instance of a Catholic and Jewish hospital affiliation in United States history. The arrangement was formalized as a corporate merger in 1995.

As the needs of Connecticut residents evolve, so does Saint Francis. In 2011, the John T. O’Connell Tower opened its doors. Ten stories high, the tower features a new emergency department with 70 treatment areas, 13 sheltered ambulance bays, and a rooftop helipad. The upper floors are home to 19 new operating rooms and 135 private patient rooms, including two floors dedicated to orthopedics.

From a fledgling hospital with 32 patients in a ward, Saint Francis has grown into New England’s largest Catholic hospital, with 617 licensed inpatient beds, 65 bassinets, and five centers of excellence that embrace patients at every stage of lifetime.

Centers of Excellence

A regional referral center and major teaching hospital, Saint Francis provides sophisticated, contemporary medicine with major clinical concentrations in women’s and children’s services, oncology, cardiology, orthopedics, and rehabilitation.

In Expert Hands

Women and Children:  Caring for women and children begins before conception and extends beyond retirement. Labor and delivery, gynecological care and comprehensive breast health are flagship programs of the Women’s and Children’s Health program.  The New Beginnings Family Birth Care model provides a unique birthing experience for each mother and her family. It offers enhanced privacy features, attractive and comfortable surroundings and the latest medical technology. Facilities include:

  • 14 labor/delivery/recovery rooms
  • 30 private postpartum suites
  • 26-bassinet well baby nursery
  • 28-bassinet Level III neonatal intensive care unit (NICU)
  • 2 cesarean section delivery rooms
  • A state-of-the-art antepartum diagnostic center

Delivery by a nurse midwife is among the options available. Saint Francis midwives approach pregnancy as a healthy, empowering experience.  Each prenatal visit is tailored to meet the physical, emotional, and informational needs of the woman and her family.

When gynecological problems arise, expert surgeons and minimally invasive technologies, including daVinci® robotic surgery, offer quicker recovery with better outcomes. At the Comprehensive Breast Health Center, women with routine, as well as complex, breast health concerns, benefit from our streamlined approach to breast cancer prevention, diagnosis, treatment and recovery. Although a mammogram is rarely pleasant, most women agree that waiting for the results is the hardest part. That’s why the breast center at Saint Francis never makes women wait. As soon as an exam is complete, the digital x-ray is transmitted to an on-site radiologist who reads it and reports the results immediately. Every woman who has a mammogram at Saint Francis leaves the center knowing whether she can breathe easy for another year or if she needs more follow-up.

High-tech, Comforting Touch

Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center is one of New England’s leading outpatient cancer treatment centers, providing  the latest technology and the most comprehensive range of treatment options in the region. More than 1,500 cancer patients and their families depend on the Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center every year. A team approach distinguishes the Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center.  Specialists – medical, surgical, radiation, rehabilitation and others – can see each patient in a single visit. This innovative, one-stop approach streamlines the diagnosis and consultation process, allowing patients to move forward with a timely and comprehensive treatment plan. Individualized care plans can include a combination of conventional and investigational therapies through our access to more than 100 NCI-funded clinical trials. In addition, state-of-the-art radiation therapy techniques offer patients a wide variety of non-surgical options for cancer treatment. With CyberKnife® and the most up-to-date linear accelerators, Saint Francis/Mount Sinai Regional Cancer Center is equipped with gold-standard technology to treat a wide variety of cancers.

Leading-edge, Leading the Way

Hoffman Heart and Vascular Institute of Connecticut is the largest open-heart surgery center in Connecticut. In emergencies, Saint Francis delivers the fastest response to heart attack in the area. The institute also routinely performs more cardiac catheterizations than any other heart center in the state – numbers that directly correlate with saving lives. With state-of-the-art technology, Saint Francis cardiologists can also correct heart rhythm disorders and manage patients with advanced congestive heart failure. Of note, the institute’s electrophysiology laboratories are equipped with StereotaxisR magnet-guided catheter technology, which allows treatment of atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias with pinpoint accuracy and increased safety. Because heart disease is also the leading cause of death in women, and frequently overlooked, the Women's Heart Program at Saint Francis is a risk reduction and education program for women designed to prevent heart attack and stroke. It is free to women over the age of 18, and includes an individualized risk assessment and a two-hour education session provided by a registered nurse, a registered dietician, and an exercise physiologist.

Experience: The Difference

Connecticut Joint Replacement Institute (CJRI)is the newest of Saint Francis’ Centers of Excellence. Led by fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons and located in the new John T. O’Connell Tower,  CJRI is a “hospital within a hospital,’’ with dedicated operating rooms and staff for hip and knee replacement. CJRI is recognized as one of the major arthritis and joint replacement centers on the East Coast. CJRI offers:

  • Board-certified, orthopedic-trained surgeons
  • Multidisciplinary teams working together to provide expert care for patients needing joint replacement procedures
  • A pre-assessment surgical screening center to ensure that medical issues have been identified and addressed prior to surgery
  • Weekly multidisciplinary patient education preoperative classes

In addition to direct patient care, the staff of CJRI is involved in research in materials used in joint replacement surgery and in post-operative pain control. Given the aging baby boomer generation, the need for joint replacement procedures is expected to grow substantially nationwide by 2030. CJRI is well positioned to meet that need.  Since it opened in 2007, CJRI has been the largest joint replacement center in Connecticut.

A Tradition of Innovation 

Mount Sinai Rehabilitation Hospital is located on the campus of the former Mount Sinai Hospital in Hartford’s North End. The 60-bed facility is Connecticut’s only freestanding acute care rehabilitation hospital. Its focus is to restore the lives of people following serious illness or injury through programs for traumatic brain injury, stroke/neurological rehabilitation, sports medicine, spinal cord injuries and orthopedics. In addition, it offers rehabilitation services for patients who have become debilitated following a serious illness or a long hospital stay. The rehabilitation team also works closely with the staff of the Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research. The center provides MS patients with services that were not previously available in the region, including a unique robotic walking system, known as the Lokomat®, now being applied in specialized MS research.

In addition to its centers of excellence, Saint Francis offers a full range of expert medical and dental care with respected programs in:

  • Stroke care
  • Surgery
  • Surgical weight loss
  • Diabetes management
  • Orthopedic and sports medicine
  • Pain management
  • Integrative medicine

Moving Forward

In the same way that Saint Francis honors the legacy of the Sisters of Saint Joseph through its mission of compassionate care, the Hospital is always looking ahead to anticipate better ways to deliver that care in a rapidly changing healthcare environment. Responding to the dynamics of the changing marketplace, the Hospital adopted a strategy to meet the healthcare challenges and opportunities confronting us today - and tomorrow. The plan sets forth a road map for delivering on its promise of BestCare for a Lifetime. The result is a patient-centered model of care designed to produce a patient experience of the highest measurable quality for the communities we serve.

From its humble beginnings, Saint Francis has continuously responded to the community’s evolving healthcare needs through a combination of the best clinical care, the best training of healthcare professionals, top-level research, and community support. Together, these principles have allowed us to build a 119-year tradition of providing the best care for a lifetime.