150 Years of Saint Agnes Hospital

Join us in celebration

The Saint Agnes Hospital mission inspires all who work within this organization ~ and it is this spirit which brings us together as a team of professionals, dedicated to creating excellent healthcare and providing that care to all who need it. The story of Saint Agnes Hospital is told here, in this Heritage Hallway exhibit dedicated in honor of our 150th Anniversary on May 22, 2012. We are honored to carry on in the tradition of our faithful founders and the gifted medical professionals who took up their cause, and we look with proud optimism toward a brilliant future.

Our Mission

At Saint Agnes Hospital, we commit ourselves to spiritually-centered health care that is rooted in the healing ministry of Jesus. In the spirit of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, and in collaboration with others, we continually reach out to all persons in our community with a special concern for those who are poor and vulnerable.

As a Catholic healthcare ministry and member of Ascension Health, we are dedicated to the art of healing to sustain and improve the lives of the individuals and communities we serve. We are also called to advocate for a just society. Through our words and deeds, our ministry is provided in an atmosphere of deep respect, love and compassion.

Creating Our Foundation

A Rich Spiritual Legacy

St. Vincent de Paul (left) and St. Louise de Marillac (right)

Our Founders & Religious Community

The spiritual legacy of Saint Agnes Hospital can be traced back to 1629, the year that Vincent de Paul, at that time a priest working with the poor in the French countryside, invited a widow, Louise de Marillac, to assist him in organizing other laywomen to minister to the sick poor in the parishes of France. The following year, 1633, Vincent and Louise co-founded the Daughters of Charity, a spiritual community dedicated to alleviating the suffering of the poor with charitable care. The spirit and charism of these two spiritual leaders, which has been bequeathed to us, is the foundation for our healing ministry. Saint Agnes continues to serveprevention all those who need our healing services, with special compassion and attention for the poor and underserved in the community.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton (1774 - 1821)

The Road to Emmitsburg: Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton

Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is often described as a “wife, mother, teacher and Saint” because of her many roles in a spiritual life. In the late 1790s, Elizabeth worked in New York City to organize a group of prominent ladies, the “Protestant Sisters of Charity”, who nursed the sick poor in their homes. Following the death of her husband, and her conversion to Catholicism which made her unwelcome by her family in New York, she came to Baltimore by invitation of the Bishop. She established the Saint Joseph’s Academy and Free School in Emmitsburg, Maryland – a school dedicated to the education of Catholic girls which was the first free Catholic school in America. In 1809, Elizabeth Ann founded a religious community, initially called the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph. From that point on, Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton became known as Mother Seton.

A Union of Charity: Sisters Join the Daughters

Although St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac died centuries before she was born, Mother Seton carried on their legacy and envisioned that the religious community she founded in Emmitsburg, the Sisters of Charity, would become part of the Daughters of Charity founded by St. Vincent and St. Louise. The embargo of France due to the Napoleonic Wars prevented this connection at the start of the 19th century, and it was only after her death that Mother Seton’s dream of union was realized. In 1850, the Emmitsburg community took the steps to merge with the Daughters of Charity, and become their American branch, as their foundress St. Elizabeth Ann Seton had envisioned during her life.

Is it not true that our greatest happiness lies in our being loved by God? -Saint Vincent de Paul
The Lanvale Street Hospital at the Kernan House, (1862-1876)

New Frontiers of Catholic Healthcare

Name and Establishment of Saint Agnes · Lanvale Site · Expansion of Mission

In 1823, Sisters from Emmitsburg joined the staff of Baltimore Infirmary at Lombard and Greene Streets, later to become University of Maryland Hospital, to provide nursing care to acutely ill patients. The Sisters of Charity at the Baltimore Infirmary were the first religious community in charge of a hospital in the United States.

The mission of these Sisters was expanded further on May 22nd, 1862, when our founders created the first Catholic Hospital in Baltimore – originally incorporated as “St. Joseph’s Hospital of then City of Baltimore.” The Hospital was established on Lanvale Street at the Kernan House, donated by Mr. Charles Dougherty with the request that the hospital be named for his wife, Agnes Dougherty – so in the fall of 1862, Saint Agnes Hospital became a beacon of hope for Baltimore in the midst of a raging Civil War.

Following a tradition established by St. Vincent de Paul, the Sisters of Saint Agnes Hospital wore “chaplets” or rosaries attached to their aprons. This was made of berries which were strung on braided cord. On one end was a cross, “death head” and miraculous medal; on the other a crucifix. St. Vincent had encouraged the Daughters of Charity to pray throughout the day using this rosary.

Caton and Lady Stafford

As Baltimore grew, so did the hospital and its surroundings on Lanvale Street. In 1876, Saint Agnes Hospital and the Daughters of Charity carried their mission to our present location – Caton Avenue, on a parcel of land which had been donated in 1861 by Lady Elizabeth Caton Stafford, granddaughter of Charles Carroll of Carrollton. Lady Stafford wrote to Archbishop Francis P. Kendrick of her wish to donate about thirty acres of land for a “hospital” for the “Catholic poor”.

Remember that the greatest pleasure you can give me is to see that your patients are well taken care of. - Saint Vincent de Paul
Baltimore Infirmary (1823-1862)

Charity & Medicine for the Common Good

In 1862, when Saint Agnes Hospital was established to provide healthcare for the poor, poverty and disease were rampant, and a Civil War raged on all sides of the city. Cholera was a particular scourge among the sick poor, but the Sisters, along with the medical staff, were moved by the spirit of charity and their mission to rise to all challenges, endure many hardships, and provide without compensation for their services.

Testimonial from an Unnamed Sister, 1864

“There are no less than eighty patients in the hospital. Although it was intended only as a temporary abode for the sick, and not for an asylum for the aged, still there are among the inmates several old people who, brought there sick, had no other place to go when they got well, and who have been permitted to wait quietly there for the day when they will be called to their last home.”

“Generosity is contagious. Dr. Boyle, who was the first physician appointed to the hospital, refuses to receive any remuneration for his services. Later, when the increased number of patients made additional medical attendance necessary, several eminent physicians (not all Catholics) offered their gratuitous services, so that the medical department of the hospital costs nothing.”

Saint Agnes Hospital Emergency Horse Carriage, served as the first carry-all in 1863.

On the Occasion of the Diamond Jubilee

“The proximity of Saint Agnes to the Washington Boulevard has made it a busy accident center. For the past year up until this month, 2,348 accident cases have been treated in the Accident Service Department. The nearness of the hospital to the boulevard has meant the difference between life and death for many unfortunate victims of automobile crashes. The skillful hands of the surgeons have repaired broken bones and bodies and the Sisters with gentle care have nursed them back to health.” from a letter from Mr. Kearns

Building a Tradition of Caring

Our Mission in Action

From 1895 until 1971, when the school program ended after 76 years, more than 1,500 nurses were trained at Saint Agnes Hospital School of Nursing.

A Legacy of Nursing Excellence

Nursing School Establishment – Professionalism and Standards

At the dawn of the 20th century, the Daughters of Charity at Saint Agnes Hospital stepped out in the forefront of clinical care with the establishment of one of the area's early Nursing Schools in 1895. The first class of nurses graduated in 1898, and these nurses helped lead the hospital to local and regional renown as a sanitarium offering innovative treatments for psychiatric and other ailments. The nursing professionals at Saint Agnes took up the legacy handed to them by Florence Nightingale, inspired by the healing compassion and mission which had been provided for so many years by the Sisters who still worked alongside them. From 1895 until 1971, when the school program ended after 76 years, more than 1,500 nurses were trained at Saint Agnes Hospital School of Nursing.

Asiatic Cholera Epidemic of 1832

The foundation of Saint Agnes nursing excellence can be found in the courage and compassion of our earliest founders, the Sisters of Charity who pioneered Catholic healthcare at the Baltimore Infirmary. During an 1832 Asiatic Cholera epidemic, Sisters were called upon to care for hundreds of cholera victims in cramped and crowded conditions. Thirty to 40 patients died each day, and that tragedy was compounded by the deaths of 19-year-old Sister Mary George and Sister Mary Frances, who died of cholera after nursing patients in August and September of 1832.

Early Clinical Recognition

The Saint Agnes Hospital School of Nursing received full accreditation from the National League of Nursing in 1957 – and in 1960, Saint Agnes became the first hospital in Maryland to offer an academic year nursing program. The program was expanded to two years in 1968.

. . . being weak and worn out, nothing but love and good nursing keeps me going. - Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
Joseph Colt Bloodgood, MD – Chief of the Medical Staff

From Sanitarium to General Hospital

At the suggestion of Cardinal Gibbons, Archbishop of Baltimore, Saint Agnes Hospital in 1898 became a sanitarium for patients suffering from mental illness and drug addiction. The treatments offered by Saint Agnes for these illnesses were innovative, and cutting edge in their day – including hydrotherapy, massage, organic and vegetarian menus, and exercise programs created to inspire individual healing.

The Saint Agnes Sanitarium was reorganized in 1906 as a General Hospital with the arrival of Joseph Colt Bloodgood, MD, as Chief of the Medical Staff, a position he occupied until his death in 1935. A pioneering physician, surgeon, and medical researcher, Dr. Bloodgood established the Intern Education Program – the second oldest surgical residency in the United States, predated only by the Halstead Program at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where he was trained. Over the next 30 years, Dr. Bloodgood led Saint Agnes into a new era of clinical expertise as he made great advances in diagnosing and treating cancer and other illnesses.

A Miracle on Caton Avenue

In 1952, little Ann Theresa O’Neill, age 3, was admitted to Saint Agnes Hospitals’ Children’s Ward with Acute Lymphatic Leukemia. Milton Sachs, M.D., of the University Hospital, one of the foremost authorities on this disease, was consulted. Despite multiple treatments over the next few weeks, the child continued to grow worse. The doctors there sent Ann home to die. She continued to worsen and eventually became extremely ill with chicken pox, so her mother brought her to Saint Agnes, believing they were facing Ann’s final days of life. Sister Mary Alice Fowler asked Ann’s mother and as many people as she knew to join the Sisters to pray to Mother Seton for divine intervention. Throughout the prayer time, Ann began to eat and eventually was able to be up and walking. Ann continued to improve, the leukemia disappeared, and she was discharged home. Today, Ann is a loving wife and mother.

As a pre-condition for canonization, the Catholic Church requires a saint who has not been martyred to have performed at least two miracles. It was determined that Elizabeth Ann Seton met this pre-condition, with three miracles attributed to her, one being the cure of Ann Theresa O’Neill at Saint Agnes Hospital.

Encourage one another, and may your mutual good example speak louder than any words can. - Saint Louise de Marillac
Many of the doctors, nurses and sisters fell ill as a result of overwork during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

Healing Through Hard Times

Spanish Influenza Pandemic of 1918 – Service to the Community

During the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918, Saint Agnes Hospital was a beacon of health and hope in the midst of unimaginable suffering and death. An account in the Baltimore Sun papers describes the scene:

Out in southwest Baltimore, where Saint Agnes Hospital is, people stood in the streets and stopped physicians in their automobiles, offering their last pennies, it is said, for them to visit their homes where persons lay ill . . . the Red Cross reached these suffering persons and took them to Saint Agnes. So that the hospital, which is considered crowded if it has many more than 200 patients, took care of some 700 victims of influenza, giving refuge to as many as 400 or 500 at a time. Not a single sufferer who was taken to the hospital was turned away.

WWII nurses (left), Saint Agnes Women's Auxiliary (right)

US Army Corps of Nurses

During World War II, the Saint Agnes Hospital School of Nursing participated in the US Cadet Nurse Corps program introduced in 1943. To compensate for the shortage of instructors during the war, three Catholic Hospitals with nursing schools in Baltimore pooled their facilities to train nursing professionals for work on the battlefield, in the noble tradition of Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War.

First Women’s Auxiliary Formed

In 1907 Saint Agnes Hospital became home to the first Women’s Hospital Auxiliary in the United States, when Sister Gonzaga, then Superintendent of Saint Agnes, invited a number of women to meet and discuss organizing a co-operative with the Sisters. The Saint Agnes Auxiliary continues today with volunteering and fundraising activities to support the hospital in its work.

Thriving on Clinical Excellence

Prepared for a Brilliant Future

Cutting Edge Care

At The Saint Agnes Cancer Institute, technology and teamwork go hand-in-hand. Saint Agnes Hospital was the first in Maryland to offer patients Tomotherapy, a state-of-the art radiation oncology treatment now standard in the industry (above). Since the early 1980s in fact, the Saint Agnes Cancer Institute has led the way in multidisciplinary treatment of cancer and wraparound services combined with the very latest in medical, radiation, and surgical oncology treatments available.

These doctors could go anywhere in the country to work. The fact that they are at Saint Agnes says a lot about us – and about them.
-Dr. Stephen Plantholt

Treating Vascular Disease

Patients will receive comprehensive care in the Saint Agnes Cardiovascular Institute, where the multidisciplinary setting allows all cardiac and vascular specialists to work closely together for collaborative care. In 2009, Saint Agnes opened a new $2 million Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory as well as a $3 million Peripheral Angiography Laboratory. In addition, the South Tower includes five new Operating Rooms made possible by a nearly $10 million grant from Ascension Health, one of them specialized for cardiovascular procedures.

Go then courageously, advancing moment by moment on the path on which God Has placed you in order to reach Him. - Saint Louis de Marillac

Teamwork Built on Skill & Compassion

Saint Agnes is proud of its newly renovated Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), named for the Associated Italian American Charities of Maryland, one of the major funders for this effort. The new NICU, made possible by a $500,000 grant from the state and a matching commitment from AIAC, is an important component of our ongoing campus expansion and positions Saint Agnes as a regional leader in neonatal and pediatric medicine.

The Saint Agnes NICU is rated by the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services (MIEMS) as a Level IIIB NICU facility, one of only seven in the state. The renovation has been designed to further enhance our excellence, with input from associates and patients both.

Primary Care

Long before you may ever need the services of Saint Agnes Hospital, you could be taken care of by Saint Agnes physicians – there are primary care physicians throughout the region on the Saint Agnes Hospital staff, working to provide services to keep you healthy and vibrant before you ever need hospital services. At Saint Agnes, we will be there for you in sickness and in health, and our extensive network of primary care physicians will provide you and your family with a medical home for life.

Stroke Central

The Neurology department at Saint Agnes Hospital offers the most advanced methods for treating stroke, sleep disorders, and other neurological issues – with a multidisciplinary team of neurologists working together to lead the way in this discipline with innovative treatments. The department features our Primary Stroke Center which has received numerous awards including the prestigious Gold Plus Recognition Award for excellence in stroke care, given by the American Heart/ American Stroke Association. The Neurology Department also offers a unique acupuncture service to help patients who have suffered a stroke achieve greater cognitive and physical rehabilitation, using non-invasive methods to help get stroke victims and those suffering from chronic pain back to normal life as quickly as possible.

G. Tom Grace, MD, and other plastic surgeons at Saint Agnes Hospital work closely with all departments to provide reconstructive and cosmetic treatments

Clinical Expertise in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Saint Agnes Hospital offers patients cutting edge surgical and non-surgical treatments using the very latest medical technologies in the Institute of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. A plastic surgeon is part of the multi-disciplinary team in our Cancer Institute, planning follow-up care so that patients who need reconstructive surgery after cancer treatment are taken care of in a safe, hospital-based setting. The Institute also supports our Bariatric Center of Excellence, with reconstructive surgery options for bariatric patients who have undergone dramatic weight loss. In addition to these medical options, the Institute of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Saint Agnes also offers a full range of cosmetic and corrective surgery, and non-surgical treatments such as injectables and other innovative plastic surgery services.

Our good God has his time and moments for everything.  Do not believe that things will always be as they are now.  - Saint Louise de Marillac
After years of debilitating pain, I was finally able to hold my little girl in my arms for the first time!

Success Stories

When Christian Dembeck thinks about his debilitating back pain before he was treated at Saint Agnes, he remembers the precious interactions with family he was missing every day.

Just a few short years ago, chronic back pain and multiple unsuccessful surgeries had turned Christian Dembeck into a man who, at age 39, had to endure daily pain with large doses of morphine and Percocet.

Not anymore. In November 2009, Raymond Haroun, MD, performed an 8-hour spinal fusion on Mr. Dembeck. When the patient woke up, he noticed that his pain was gone – and he has been gloriously pain-free, and enjoying life with his family, ever since.

For Dawn Cockerham, losing 157 pounds with bariatric surgery at Saint Agnes was literally a matter of life and death. “When I lay down on my back, I couldn’t draw a breath. I was smothering,” Dawn says. “Then I had an abnormal stress test, and they found a 90-95 percent blockage in the main artery of my heart. That was a wake-up call.”

It took her three years to prepare for bariatric surgery because of her poor health, but Dawn never gave up the fight to get help. She received gastric bypass surgery from Andrew Averbach, MD, Director of Bariatric and Minimally Invasive Surgery at Saint Agnes Hospital, and has worked hard ever since, with the support of the Bariatric Center, to lose nearly half her body weight and regain her health.

“It’s unbelievable – I feel fantastic! Getting the surgery was the best thing I ever did, and I am so grateful to Saint Agnes and Dr. Averbach. I just wish I had done it sooner.”

Red Dress Sunday

The medical care and preventive services that Saint Agnes Hospital delivers not only touches individuals, but entire communities as well. Saint Agnes continues to forge new paths in medical technology and clinical achievement, even as we create new ways of partnering with the organizations and community around us to bring the benefits of excellent healthcare to the patients and families we serve. Our successful Red Dress Sunday initiative is one of the hallmarks of our success in reaching out and touching our community members to make a difference. In 2005 Saint Agnes began Red Dress Sunday with three African American churches in Baltimore. By 2011, more than 130 churches across Maryland and beyond had joined the Red Dress Sunday movement, which aims to educate African American women and their families about their risk of cardiovascular disease, and how to best prevent it.

Leading the World

Pioneering Physicians

John Tuohy, MD (top), Emidio Bianco, MD (left), JJ Gunning (right)

Breakthroughs in Patient Care

Establishing Departments & Specialties – Highlighting Physicians & Programs

Care of patients has evolved greatly in the medical profession over the past 150 years, and Saint Agnes was at the forefront of that change – first in surgery with Dr. Bloodgood’s innovations, and following that in the development of a well-trained nursing staff and Nursing School, a highly qualified resident staff, and the establishment of full-time faculty, physicians, and department chiefs. Sister Alberta Beckwith became the Administrator of Saint Agnes Hospital in 1962 and would stay for the next 16 years overseeing many of the changes that were taking place, starting with hiring the best available physicians. It was Sister Alberta and her administrative staff along with Saint Agnes’ first three Medical Directors, Drs. John Touhy, Emideo Bianco, and J.J. Gunning who led the change of Saint Agnes into a major community teaching hospital with high quality patient care. All of these changes did not come easily, but the Hospital’s commitment was unwavering. Sister Alberta led with a gutsy approach overseeing the development of the Intensive Care Units, Hospitalists and later Emergency Medicine to keep pace with the changing urgent needs of patients.

Physician Leadership Flourishes & Clinical Innovation Results

  • Building a National Teaching Program: Emile Mohler, MD

    Emile Mohler, MD became the first full-time Department Chief of Medicine in 1969. Dr. Mohler and his medical staff built the Department of Medicine to a nationally recognized teaching program with excellent training in a variety of specialty services. He pioneered the establishment of the Hemophilia Center in 1974 as an innovative treatment protocol, and helped develop the pharmaceutical and medical lab capabilities during his tenure.

  • A Legacy of Education: Stanley Minken, MD

    Stanley Minken, MD, was known for his emphasis on new ancillary services such as Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU). Along with Michael Ellis, MD, Dr. Minken established and grew the Physical Therapy Services at Saint Agnes. Dr. Minken also is credited with establishing and nurturing a relationship with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland, allowing Saint Agnes residents to rotate to these prestigious institutions, and for their students to practice at Saint Agnes. Because of this, some of America’s most eminent physicians have worked at Saint Agnes Hospital.

  • Vascular & Thoracic Pioneer: Karl Mech Sr., MD

    Karl Mech, Sr., MD, Department of Surgery Chair from 1964 until 1969, kept Saint Agnes on the forefront of surgical trends during his tenure by establishing formal subspecialty sections in his department, including vascular surgery and thoracic surgery. He added to the prominence of Saint Agnes in the community by being among the founders of the Maryland Board of Physicians. He also formed a committee of senior attendings to recruit a full-time chairman and faculty, establishing the modern template for leadership transition in surgery.

  • A Champion for Nephrology: James Carey, MD

    James Carey, MD, joined Saint Agnes in 1972 as part of the newly- founded Nephrology Department, delivering groundbreaking dialysis treatments to our patients. Assuming leadership as Chief of Nephrology in 1974, Dr. Carey pioneered dialysis for patients with renal disease has taken that public health issue to the halls of the United States Congress, when he actually dialyzed a patient in the Capital Building during a House of Representatives’ session. Dr. Carey also served as the Director of the Saint Agnes Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU) in the early 1970s, and served in 1986 as the President of the Medical Staff.

We must strive to soften our hearts and make them sensitive to the suffering and worries of our neighbor...      - Saint Vincent de Paul
Dr. Bloodgood taught surgical residents what he knew, and imparted his experience and wisdom that would encourage many more residents to train at Saint Agnes Hospital.

Joseph Colt Bloodgood, M.D.

Early Affiliation with Johns Hopkins – The Surgeon With a Microscope

Joseph Colt Bloodgood, MD, started his medical career as a Surgical Resident under William Halsted, MD, Chief of Surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Halsted was one of the four medical giants of that Institution (others being Sir William Osler MD– Medicine, Howard Kelly MD – Gynecology, and William Welch MD – Pathology). The Surgical Program at Johns Hopkins was the first surgical residency in the United States. Dr. Bloodgood was always at the right side of Dr. Halsted in photos taken in surgical operations.

Dr. Bloodgood came to Saint Agnes Hospital in 1906 as Chief of Surgery and Pathology, and Chief of the Medical Staff. He was the “franchise physician” for the next 29 years. He established the first Surgical Residency Program in a community hospital. He changed Saint Agnes, previously known for hydrotherapy and as a psychiatric hospital, into a full operating hospital.

The Surgeon with the Microscope

Dr. Bloodgood was known as “The Surgeon with the Microscope,” and Histopathology became a Saint Agnes specialty. He often took a microscope into the Operating Room to examine tissue. It was here where the technique of “frozen section” biopsy was created, which resulted in immediate diagnoses and improved surgical treatment of patients.

Dr. Bloodgood published his message of cancer prevention in many medical and surgical journals, as well as the lay press of his time. Hostile criticism of his theories and actions did not prevent him from educating the medical field and the public.

Cancer Seen and Treated Early is Curable Cancer/Acute Prevention

Dr. Bloodgood discovered that cancer did not always begin as cancer, but as a focus of abnormal tissue, and that early treatment could prevent the cancer from developing. He tried in many ways to get his message out to the medical profession and to the public, and was criticized severely for doing so, because the thinking at that time was that he was advertising and trying to get patients away from other physicians.

Dr. Bloodgood trained as a resident under Dr. Halsted at Johns Hopkins and was always at his side in procedures. With great respect, Dr. Halsted used to tease that Dr. Bloodgood would never be as good as he because he wouldn’t have his own “Bloodgood” at his side.

A Legacy of Medical Leadership

Thanks to the pioneering work of Dr. Bloodgood in preventive medicine, Saint Agnes now offers “EHAC Education” (Early Heart Attack Care) to prevent heart attacks and early treatment to also prevent strokes. In addition, cancer – Dr. Bloodgood’s area of expertise – is now detected earlier than ever and cured in many cases. Dr. Bloodgood broke new medical ground in cancer diagnosis and treatment, and his work promoting this idea in the medical community and to the public has transformed the way medicine is practiced today not only at Saint Agnes Hospital, but all over the world.


Acute Prevention of Heart Attack – Saint Agnes Coronary Care System

Paul Dudley White, M.D., known as the father of Cardiology in the United States, stressed the prevention of heart attacks by reducing risk factors–elevated cholesterol, hypertension and cigarette smoking. He promoted exercise and brisk walking to reduce heart attacks. His approach helped with prevention, but fell short in terms of treatment when a heart attack was actually occurring.

The concept of acute heart attack prevention developed at Saint Agnes Hospital represented a new level of heart attack care that complemented Dr. White’s prevention approach. From bedside observations and the history taken from patients having a heart attack, it was discovered that many heart attacks had beginnings which, if interrupted, could prevent death to the individual and lesson the amount of damage to the heart.

(Top) Dr. Paul Dudley White dedicating the new Paul Dudley White Coronary Care System at Saint Agnes Hospital in 1973. Left to right: Kyle Swisher, Jr., MD, Ralph Marin MD, Raymond D. Bahr, MD, Paul Dudley White, MD, Emideo Bianco, MD.

(Bottom) The First Chest Pain Center in the World being dedicated in 1981 with the cutting of the EKG tape. Left to right: Sister Clare Lindner, Raymond Bahr MD, Administrator Sister Margaret James, and Jim Klink.
Observe, you may do all the good things you like, but if you do not do them well, it will profit you nothing...   - Saint Vincent de Paul

Spreading the Message

To support this new approach of Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC) it was necessary for the Emergency Department to create and implement protocol driven algorithms that would be user friendly for patients presenting with milder forms of chest pain. The concept of a Chest Pain Center in the Emergency Department was introduced and established at Saint Agnes Hospital in 1981 – the first such unit in the world. From there, it was a matter of getting the word out, all over the world, about EHAC , an acronym which originated at Saint Agnes and became an internationally renowned protocol.

The Society of Chest Pain Centers is a recognized leader in assisting medical facilities to improve and streamline their clinical processes, adopt best practices, and implement new ideas to ensure the highest quality of care for patients suffering with coronary diseases.

Global Impact through Education & Results

The strategy to inform hospitals throughout the United States and the world was set into motion in 1991 by Saint Agnes and Dr. Bahr – and in 2002 the Society of Chest Pain Centers took over the further development of promoting Chest Pain Centers and educating the public about Early Heart Attack Care (EHAC). SCPC is an international nonprofit health care organization committed to leading the fight to eliminate heart disease as the number one cause of death worldwide and has also initiated an accreditation program to recognize leaders in this area. Saint Agnes Hospital, home to the world’s first Chest Pain Center, was the first institution in Maryland to obtain certification.

The GUSTO study team at Saint Agnes consisted of the physician and nursing members of the Emergency Department, medical and surgical residents, Coronary Care Unit nurses and the Coronary administrative staff.

Saint Agnes Leads the Way in Research

In 1993, Saint Agnes enrolled more patients than any other hospital (206) in the large GUSTO I trial: Global Utilization of Streptokinase & tPA for Occluded coronary arteries. Since then, Saint Agnes has been recognized as a major research institution in national clinical trials. In the Cardiovascular Institute, Saint Agnes also played a significant role in the national C-Port Studies – Cardiovascular Patient Outcomes Research Team.

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