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Bold Vision: Catholic Sisters and the Creation of American Hospitals


American hospitals were started by religious, ethnic and community groups to serve local health care needs. Immigration into the eastern cities and the constant movement west of the frontier required the creation of educational and service facilities to serve these populations and localities. In the nineteenth century, Catholic sisters went all across the country establishing schools and hospitals. They were motivated to care for the sick, establish charitable institutions and spread their religious beliefs. Their impact on the development of the American health system was enormous. They also supported the importance of nursing for the provision of scientifically based medical care and created schools of nursing. Their historical record as founders, builders, financiers and managers of hospitals is unmatched by any other group between 1850 and 1950. And, this was accomplished at a time when women played no similar leadership and institutional ownership role elsewhere in society.

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Correspondence to Peter J. Levin.

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Levin, P.J. Bold Vision: Catholic Sisters and the Creation of American Hospitals. J Community Health 36, 343–347 (2011).

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  • Catholic hospitals USA
  • Hospital history
  • Community hospitals