This hospital was originally named St. Mary and underwent a name change to Saint Mary’s in 2001. No matter how you spell it, this Trinity Health ministry has been the leader in delivering comprehensive medical services with special attention to marginalized and underserved people in Grand Rapids. Here is how it all began:
Our Catholic hospitals trace their roots to1831, when Catherine McAuley founded the Sisters of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland, to follow Christ in his compassion for suffering people. She and the Sisters of Mercy established foundations to serve the poor, the sick, and the uneducated throughout Ireland and England.
In 1843, the Sisters of Mercy took their mission to the United States where they opened schools, orphanages, homes for women and girls at risk, and hospitals.
Sisters of Mercy Founded St. Mary Hospital
In 1893, Mrs. Mary McNamara, a charitable widow in Grand Rapids, presented her home on South Lafayette Avenue to Bishop Henry J. Richter of Grand Rapids to be used as the beginning of a future hospital. Richter invited the Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit to lead the project. Sisters Mary Ignatius McCord, Mary Aloysius Maher, Mary Baptist Feldner, and Anthony McMillen were appointed to begin the new work.
The sisters named the hospital St. Mary, in memory of the benefactress. A second house was moved and attached to the rear of the McNamara home to create a workable hospital with 15 beds.
Five years later, hospital officials opened the St. Mary Hospital Training School for Nurses and built a three-story addition, doubling the number of beds. The training school continued until 1962, when a consolidated nurse training program brought together the nursing schools from Mercy hospitals in Bay City, Muskegon, and Grand Rapids. Training needs for nurses evolved over time and eventually the Mercy Central School of Nursing closed in 1974.
In 1911, St. Mary constructed a new 75-bed hospital at the corner of Cherry Street and Lafayette Avenue where Trinity Health Lacks Cancer Center now stands. During the next 60 years, St. Mary Hospital underwent myriad expansions, dramatically increasing the total number of beds by the late 1970s.
In 2011, the hospital joined Mercy Health, thus becoming Mercy Health Saint Mary’s.
The hospital has celebrated many achievements throughout its history:
- 1936 – Robert Claytor, MD, received his privileges at St. Mary Hospital in 1936, making him the first hospital-employed African American physician in Grand Rapids.
- 1973 – The first and only Kidney Transplant program in Grand Rapids for adult patients — a historic program that is still one of the largest and most successful community hospital-based kidney transplant programs in the country.
- 1988-2000 – Six Community Health Centers open to bring superior health care to underserved members of the community — including Heartside Health Center (1988), Clinica Santa Maria Health Center (1990) and Browning Claytor Health Center (2000).
- 1990 – McAuley Infectious Disease Program for HIV/AIDS is the first program in West Michigan at a time when other facilities disavowed them.
- 1997, 2005 – Exclusive joint partnerships with Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation services and Van Andel Research Institute for Parkinson’s Center research, respectively.
- 1999 – Mercy Health Wege Institute for Mind, Body and Spirit, one of the largest and most experienced integrative health programs in the United States, partners progressive complementary therapies with mainstream medical services and practitioners.
- 2005 – Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center opens. West Michigan’s only comprehensive cancer hospital earns LEED certification a year later, becoming the second U.S. hospital ever to receive the award.
- 2009 – Hauenstein Neuroscience Center, the region’s first multidisciplinary, comprehensive clinic, provides unparalleled treatment for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Muscular Dystrophy, Muscular Sclerosis, Palliative Care, Stroke, and other neurological disorders.
- 2013 – Southwest Urgent Care transitioned to a full-service Emergency Department
Recent Collaborations with the Future in Mind
In 2019, Mercy Health and Metro Health – University of Michigan Health launched a joint venture, the Cancer Network of West Michigan, which leverages the combined resources and capabilities of the two West Michigan health systems and Michigan Medicine, the academic medical center of the University of Michigan. This innovative relationship will allow the institutions to collaborate to advance cancer treatment for patients in West Michigan.
In 2021, the Cardiovascular Network of West Michigan brought together University of Michigan Health-West, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, and Mercy Health Muskegon. This joint agreement leverages the expertise of University of Michigan Health’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center, with plans to expand open-heart surgery availability in Grand Rapids. At that time, there was only one open-heart program in Michigan.
A Commitment to Compassion, Transformation, and Healing Continues
In April 2022, Mercy Health announced that its facilities across West Michigan were rebranding under the name Trinity Health. Mercy Health has been a member of Trinity Health, a nationwide Catholic health system since 2000. With locations in 25 states, the new brand brings together the national recognition of Trinity Health with more than a century of local community-based patient care, teaching, research, and services.
Today, Trinity Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids is located at 200 Jefferson Ave. SE. Additional Trinity Health services are located throughout the greater Grand Rapids area, and from Holland to Ludington. These services include multiple providers’ offices, labs, pharmacies, outpatient health centers, and Urgent Care facilities.
Eventually, the hospital will become Trinity Health Grand Rapids to make it easier for patients and communities to connect with our full network across Michigan and the country. The new hospital names in West Michigan will be Trinity Health Saint Mary’s, Grand Rapids; Trinity Health Muskegon; and Trinity Heath Shelby. Physician offices will be named Trinity Health Medical Group (formerly Mercy Health Physician Partners).
For the Grand Rapids community, this historic brand change means more access to doctors, research, clinical trials, leading technology, and care options for every stage of life. What remains is our dedication to serve our communities through our mission:
We, Trinity Health, serve together in the spirit of the Gospel
to be a compassionate and transforming, healing presence in our communities.