OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group Celebrates 135 Years

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ESCANABA – OSF HealthCare St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group celebrated 135 years of serving the Delta County Community on Tuesday, February 12. The local hospital has a rich history in the Upper Peninsula, with The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, and OSF HealthCare system.

In 1883, the then Delta County Hospital, located at 1018 South 13th Street, was in need of nursing staff to care for the people of Delta County. The mayor and county physician contacted the Reverend Eugene Buttermann, Pastor of St. Joseph’s Church in Escanaba at the time. He was acquainted with the Sisters of The Third Order of St. Francis through a friend, Sister Barbara Markford. A formal request was made and two Sisters traveled from Peoria, Illinois to Escanaba, Michigan and signed an agreement on February 12, 1884, to provide care for patients at the Delta County Hospital. This was the Sister’s third Mission, but first Mission in the Upper Peninsula, hundreds of miles from Peoria.

“A Mission in a small town in the middle of pine and birch forests among hardy men and women who survived the cold of the long winter months by remembering the magnificence of summer in the North,” as documented by The Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis.

The Sisters continued to care for the community at the Delta County Hospital and in 1889, a fire destroyed a large portion of the hospital and renovations had to be made. In 1915, at the suggestion of the mayor, the Sisters purchased the Delta County Hospital, renaming it St. Francis Hospital. By 1926, another fire partially destroyed the hospital. While the Sisters were discouraged, the people of Escanaba came to their aid immediately, to help rebuild a new facility.

The new hospital included two wings, with an addition of needed patient rooms and a convent for the sisters. Three thousand people gathered for the Dedication Mass in 1927, acclaiming the new building one of the finest in the Upper Peninsula. Renovations and expansions took place over the years and in 1986, the current hospital was built on Ludington Street.

“Although health care was much different 135 years ago, the Mission to provide care to all persons of our community and to serve them with the greatest care and love has remained unchanged. The support from our community has also remained a very important role in allowing us to provide the best care possible,” said Dave Lord, President at OSF St. Francis. “We are so grateful for the Sisters’ dedication to serving the people of the Upper Peninsula and remain in awe of their perseverance during their travels to the U.P., in February, of all months.”

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