In a tucked away corner of the 13th District, one of the top ten largest employers in the district quietly toils away saving lives. St. Vincent's Medical Center, located on the northwest corner of 3rd & Alvarado, opened in here at its 5th location in 1927, with the new building opening on the site in 1975 (a year after the name was changed from St. Vincent's Hospital to Medical Center). It is the oldest medical institution in Los Angeles, having been in operation for 151 years (that means since 1856 for those non-math nerds!). The hospital was started by the Daughters of Charity as "The Los Angeles Infirmary," and that affiliation with the Daughters still exists today. They were the first group of women to open a medical institution in the City, and their first facility was an adobe homes near the Plaza.
"How can I learn more?" you ask. Well, in 1995, St. Vincent's began to officially collect their (and Los Angeles) history. Though their website is under development (with no date of completion estimated at this time), the St. Vincent Medical Center Historical Conservancy, according to their "LA as a Subject" page, "was established in 1995 to preserve the long and storied history of St. Vincent Medical Center and of its founders, the Daughters of Charity…. Consisting of more than one hundred thousand documents and artifacts housed in a three-thousand-square-foot facility, the archive was opened to the public in November 1996." Its reference library is home to the papers of "one of Los Angeles's most influential and innovative physicians, Travis Winsor, M.D." It is open to the public, but by appointment only. According to Ken McGuire, their archivist, "it is preferred that an advanced appointment be made before coming to the Conservancy at this time. This is due to staffing and exhibit changes." Their hours of operation are Monday to Friday, 8:00am to 3:30pm. Ken can be reached at (213)484-7940.
Some of St. Vincent's "firsts":
- Los Angeles Infirmary is the first hospital in California to be
accredited by the American College of Surgeons (1913)
- First successful open-heart surgery on the West Coast performed at St. Vincent's (1957)
- St. Vincent's Hospital doctors the first to use the surgical microscope to operate on the inner ear. (1960)
- St. Vincent's the first hospital to offer hemodialysis to kidney
failure patients. (1962)