Mercy Health was formed in 2011 when Mercy Health Partners in Muskegon and Saint Mary's Health Care in Grand Rapids entered into a partnership with other West Michigan health care providers to bring greater access to services and personalized care to the region.
Mercy Health Partners is the result of Hackley Health System and Mercy General Health Partners joining forces to better serve the lakeshore communities. The organization was formed on April 2, 2008, in Muskegon, MI. Mercy Health Partners is the largest employer in Muskegon County with over 3,700 associates and the largest health system along the lakeshore. Mercy Health Partners is a teaching hospital with more than 20,000 inpatient discharges, 2,200 births and 145,000 emergency/urgent care visits annually. The system has four hospitals, 375 physicians and offers a number of exclusive specialty physician care services for the region.
The system continues to have strong ties to its original founders –– the Sisters of Mercy.
The Sisters of Mercy
Catherine McAuley was born to a wealthy family in Ireland in 1778. However, with the death of her father, the family lost its fortune. To support herself, Catherine lived with and cared for an elderly couple, the Callahans, on the outskirts of Dublin.
Before he died, Catherine's father, James, was an example of Christ's love, sharing his home and money with the destitute. His actions influenced Catherine and her mercy, in turn, inspired William Callahan to leave his fortune to her. This inheritance allowed Catherine to build the House of Mercy, a home for poor and uneducated people in Dublin. On December 12, 1831, Catherine officially formed a new religious community, professing her vows and becoming the first Sister of Mercy.
Over the next 10 years, Catherine personally established 12 of the 14 original foundations in Ireland and England. In 1841 she became sick and weakened by tuberculosis; she returned to her beloved House of Mercy where she died on November 11. The story of her death continues to inspire people today.
The works of Mercy spread around the world and, by the 1970s, the Sisters of Mercy of Detroit were sponsoring 25 hospitals in Michigan, Iowa, and Indiana. The establishment of Mercy Health Services in 1983 refocused energy on information services, home health, services for the aging and the beginnings of managed care.
The Sisters of Mercy Regional Community of Detroit and the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross consolidated their health ministries — Mercy Health Services and Holy Cross Health System — to form a new system called Trinity Health in 2000. Mercy Health Partners is a member of Trinity Health.
What remains from Catherine McAuley is the commitment to serve those in need, and the values, now expressed in the organizational values of Trinity Health — Respect, Social Justice, Compassion, Care of the Poor and Underserved, and Excellence.
Muskegon's First Hospital — A Brief History
On April 16, 1903, under the leadership of Sister Mary Joseph Miller and three Sisters of Mercy from the Big Rapids area, Sister Mary Catherine O'Connor, Sister Mary Patrick Connor and Sister Mary Phillip Fitzgerald founded Mercy Hospital in Muskegon. The hospital opened its doors that day in the former home of L.G. Mason on Jefferson Street in downtown Muskegon. The first patient, a woman suffering from appendicitis was admitted on opening day, surgery was performed and 14 days later she was released and the new 25 bed hospital was on its way to becoming established in the community.
Sister Mary Joseph served as the first president of Muskegon's new Mercy Hospital. Wasting no time, the Mercy Training School for nurses was opened in May 1903. By 1907 the first graduating class of three students entered the profession and began working at the hospital. The school continued to train Muskegon area nurses until the 1970s.
The hospital underwent a doubling of size in July of 1904. The expansion was funded through community donations. Growth continued, and by 1916, it was apparent that a new building was needed to meet health care needs of a growing Muskegon community. The new building replaced the original in 1921 and provided 125 beds. The building was four stories tall, and would be the home of Mercy Muskegon until it's relocation to Sherman and U.S. 31 in 1973. Before the move a number of expansions and additions were made, including a 67-bed addition on Fifth Street, which gave Mercy capacity of 85 beds.
Mercy led the community in providing new and first-time services to Muskegon that included coronary care (1965), ambulatory care (1965), an alcoholism care unit (1971) and hemodialysis (1972).
The physical move to the new 235 bed facility on Sherman Boulevard from downtown took the efforts of 180 men from the 394th Army Reserve Unit, Station Hospital from Grand Rapids; the employees and medical staff of Mercy hospital and Professional Ambulance service.
The new structure was revolutionary at the time — it was built of Cor-Ten steel and was the first hospital in the nation to be built with this metal.
In 1974, the Sisters of Mercy Province of Detroit, faced with the complexity of operating 17 hospitals in 3 states, formed a new corporation to better govern and manage the hospitals. It was known as the Sisters of Mercy Health Corporation, later Mercy Health Services and now, after a merger with Holy Cross of South Bend, Indiana: Trinity Health.
In 1982, Dr. Steven Demos performed the first open-heart surgery at Mercy, thus establishing Mercy as Muskegon's heart hospital. Mercy Health Partners continues to perform open-heart surgeries today — nearly 400 each year. In 1988, a major fund campaign to establish a Critical Care Unit was conducted and $2 million was pledged. The unit was named in honor of Dan and Mavis Thill. In 1989, three living centers were opened — McAuley Place, University Park and Shorehaven. The most significant change since its founding was in 1995, with Muskegon General Hospital and Mercy entering into a Joint Operating Agreement, which in 1998 became a full merger with both hospitals operating under the name of Mercy Health Partners.
A new state-of-the-art Emergency Center was dedicated in February 2003.
The former Mercy Hospital is now referred to as the Mercy Campus. The former Muskegon General Hospital is now the Mercy Health Partners General Campus in Muskegon.
Muskegon's Osteopathic Hospital
In 1942, a group of 21 Muskegon-area osteopathic physicians founded the Muskegon Osteopathic Hospital with the purchase of the Torrent house. Built in the early 1890s, this 32-room granite mansion was once owned by lumber baron John Torrent and was located on the corner of Third and West Webster Avenues. Twenty hospital beds and various other pieces of equipment were purchased and on April 19, 1942, the hospital opened its doors. The operating room was located in the kitchen of the home — the tiles walls and floors made it easy to clean. Patients recovered in various rooms throughout the house.
Staffing the hospital with nurses was a challenge, as a decree was issued that "any nurses working at the osteopathic hospital were immediately barred from working at Mercy and Hackley hospitals." The founding physicians also attempted to secure a "Quiet Hospital Zone" sign, but city officials refused to provide one, as the institution was not recognized as a hospital.
It was this anti-osteopathic sentiment that was the impetus for the creation of the hospital – the physicians found resistance from Muskegon's established hospitals in regard to practice privileges. The new hospital provided a place for them to treat patients in an osteopathic environment.
The hospital was popular with Muskegon area residents and it was at capacity most of the time. In 1954 plans were created to build an addition to the Torrent House. This addition was completed in 1957. This new addition doubled the capacity of the hospital, bringing the bed total to 67, which included adult, pediatric, and newborn beds. The new three-floor facility contained an Emergency Room, an OB Unit, two surgery suites, and other clinical and support services. Continued growth of the Muskegon population and a growing medical staff created a greater demand for hospital services, thus leading the physicians to consider a new building in a new location.
The site for the new hospital, on a 20 acre parcel of land located at U.S. 31 and Apple Avenue was selected and a $3 million, 137-bed facility was built and dedicated on May 29, 1967. The new hospital was called Muskegon General Hospital. Muksegon General Hospital employed 300 employees and was described as "one of the most modern new hospitals in the state."
Further expansion was completed in 1982 — this 3-story addition expanded the Emergency Department, housed occupational and physical therapy, an ICU and Coronary Care Unit as well as classrooms, a laboratory, radiology and nuclear medicine. In 1995, the Special Delivery Birth Center was added to the east side of the building. This state-of-the-art Labor-Delivery-Recovery-Postpartum unit had eight rooms and was set for expansion in 2001.
Two significant activities took place in the mid-1990s. The first, when Muskegon General Hospital and Mercy Hospital entered into a Joint Operating Agreement, and the second in 1998, when the JOA became a full merger with both hospitals operating under the name of Mercy Health Partners. As part of the merger agreement, the Muskegon General Foundation received 7.5 million dollars from Mercy Health Services, and changed its name to Muskegon General Osteopathic Foundation.
The Muskegon General Osteopathic Foundation is a public charitable foundation that supports programs designed to produce advances on problems and issues of importance to osteopathic medicine and the community's health and welfare.
The former Muskegon General property is now referred to as the Mercy Health Partners General Campus.
In 2008, a subsequent merger added Hackley Health to the Mercy Health Partners system.