The story of St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center is the story of more than a century of caring by the Sisters of Charity, who have rendered medical and spiritual services through hospitals functioning under four different names: St. Mary's, Corwin, Minnequa and now St. Mary-Corwin.
The Sisters of Charity established St. Mary's Hospital in an old, two-story boarding house in 1882. The hospital continued to grow, first in increments of add-ons, then in the form of new construction of a 90-bed, four-story building. St. Mary Hospital was in operation until the mid 1950s.
In the early 1880s, the Colorado Coal and Iron Company (forerunner of the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, CF&I) hired Dr. R.W. Corwin to come to Pueblo and set up a medical department. The first CF&I hospital was built on the grounds of the company's Minnequa plant and acquired that name. A typhoid epidemic among steelworkers in 1882 overwhelmed the small facility and led to construction of a new, 30-bed hospital. In 1902, Minnequa Hospital was reborn in the form of a new, 200-bed facility located near Lake Minnequa. Upon the death of its founding physician in 1929, the hospital changed its name to Corwin.
By the late 1940s, CF&I was ready to get out of the hospital business while St. Mary Hospital was desperately trying to raise funds to expand. Convinced of the Sister's good work, CF&I's board of directors voted to transfer ownership of Corwin Hospital to them for $1.
In 1950, Corwin Hospital was comprised of three wings with two floors each and a total of 200 beds. By 1953, the Sisters of Charity decided to consolidate the two hospitals. St. Mary would be razed, and Corwin Hospital would expand with construction of a new hospital around and over the existing institution, a first in American construction history. In 1957, the new St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, with nearly 500 beds, was dedicated. It offered state-of-the-art equipment and resources, full internal communications systems, and other features new to the hospital world. These advancements, in turn, drew new specialists to the beautiful southern Colorado area.
A Medical Arts building, pharmacy annex, new EEG lab, cafeteria and dining room further complemented the larger, modernized hospital. A contemporary chapel, Catholic in concept, was dedicated in May 1958. A psychiatric unit opened in January 1960 and later that year, medical staff voted in favor of making the hospital library a memorial to Dr. Royal H. Finney, who had died following more than 50 years of medical service, most of it devoted to Corwin and St. Mary-Corwin hospitals. An on-site blood bank opened in 1961, and the following year saw the establishment of the hospital's first Intensive Care Unit. In 1962, St. Mary-Corwin admitted 15,884 patients and orchestrated the birth of nearly 2,000 babies.
The 1970s brought more changes to St. Mary-Corwin. A heliport was constructed and Flight For Life service implemented; the Southern Colorado Family Medicine residency clinic was established; Lab, ER, Admitting and Radiology all expanded; and a new circular-designed ICU was built. In the mid 1980s, an $8.4 million addition to St. Mary-Corwin was complete.
The 1990s continued St. Mary-Corwin's legacy of excellent care. The hospital opened an outpatient rehabilitation center, created One-Stop outpatient services and built an off-site clinic, the St. Mary-Corwin Health Center, in north Pueblo. In 1995, the Sisters of Charity joined with others to form Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI). St. Mary-Corwin and other mountain region CHI hospitals then signed a joint operating agreement with Porter Hospitals (Portercare Adventist Health System) to form the management company known as Centura Health.
Today, in the 21st century, St. Mary-Corwin is a modern community resource with its own Flight For Life helicopter base, a three-year residency program, a state-of-the-art, comprehensive cancer center, one of the first stroke centers in Colorado and more.