A Heritage of Loving Service: The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Tucson
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Heritage: The Story of St. Mary's Hospital, 1880-1980
By Leo G. Bryne and Sister Alberta Cammack, C.S.J

Chapter I Frontier Hospital
Hospital Development

Hospital development during the decade was internal and organizational rather than physical. As early as 1921, three members of the Medical Staff had been certified as Fellows of the American College of Surgeons: Drs. Mead Clyne, Joel Butler, and George Dodge. Within a few years, they were joined in that circle by Drs. Monte Comer, Victor Gore, Charles Patterson, and Charles Thomas. The Nursing School gained accreditation in 1922, paralleling the increasing recognition of the Medical Staff.

The number of annual patient admissions, too, grew apace with all the other indices of expansion. The archives of St. Mary's are evidence that good patient records were kept in the old bound ledgers, But as diagnostic services increased and therapeutic systems mushroomed, the amount of information necessary to record quickly outgrew the limitations of hand-written ledgers. In the mid-twenties, a formal Medical Records Department was organized to ensure consistency of entries, adequate cross-referencing and indexing vital to the medical history of an individual patient. The advent of this procedural change was a contributing factor in the accreditation of St. Mary's by the American College of Surgeons in 1928. Sister Victoria, who was at the helm of the hospital from 1923 through 1929, had, of course, the experience of the fire, the new convent, the chapel, an infirmary for sick and elderly nuns, remodeling of the old convent building, which was joined to the hospital proper for additional patient services -- all of these added to the duties of administration. Retrospectively, it is amazing that she was also able to guide the complex through the maze of internal reorganization and restructuring. Events proved that her course of action left the hospital in much better shape to face the ravages of the Great Depression of the thirties. Her aim had been to keep the capital debt of the hospital within manageable limits -- and this in a decade of easy credit that was the undoing of a multitude of enterprises during the ensuing upheaval of the national economy. This prudence allowed her successor, Sister Mary Charles McIver, to pursue a similar course of moderation. There was no backtracking; there was steady forward progress without dramatic innovations.

Continue with Chapter I Frontier Hospital Organization and Growth

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