Our story begins at a time when America was booming and Flint had established itself as the “Vehicle City.” It was the “Roaring Twenties”. The town’s population was rapidly growing and struggling to provide healthcare services to keep up with its growth.
At the request of Bishop Michael J. Gallagher from the Diocese of Detroit, four Sisters of St. Joseph came from Nazareth (Kalamazoo), Michigan to establish St. Joseph Hospital in Flint. The Sisters of St. Joseph brought with them a mission of caring for all people in need that began with the founding of their order in France during the 1600s.
The Sisters arrived in Flint on September 25, 1920, to open St. Joseph Hospital in the former Thomas Stockton residence at 720 Ann Arbor St. Renovations and other major improvements were made to transform the stately home into a 53-bed hospital. When St. Joseph Hospital officially opened on May 5, 1921, twelve beds were already occupied, and by the end of its first year, the hospital treated 448 patients.
The Sisters of St. Joseph eventually purchased the building from the Diocese, and after seven years of operation the old building was crowded beyond capacity. So the Sisters decided to build a larger hospital at another site.
In March 1929, they purchased about twenty-six acres “way out in the country” on the Dallas Dort estate on the east side of Flint. At the time, they were criticized for leaving the city and abandoning the people. (After all, it was about four miles away and very few people had transportation.) Nevertheless, the Sisters saw a need and pursued it.
A community campaign helped to raise $1,250,000 to build the new hospital. However, the nation was in the midst of the Great Depression, which prevented hundreds of subscribers from paying their pledges and stalled the construction progress for several years. But the Sisters persisted, and by New Year’s Day 1936, the new hospital opened.
During the same year, Dr. J.A. Still introduced the area’s first osteopathic hospital when he opened Still Osteopathic Hospital, a five-bed facility in a converted apartment house on Detroit Street in Flint. Ten years later, in 1946, the Still Osteopathic Hospital was renamed Flint Osteopathic Hospital. The hospital then had eighteen beds, and would experience several construction and renovation projects n the coming years.
Following World War II, the nation was facing community health risks, such as tuberculosis. In 1949, to help treat the area’s tuberculosis patients, the country opened the 143-bed Genesee County Tuberculosis Sanitarium at 702 Ballenger Road on the west side of Flint.
The decade of the 1950s in the Flint area was marked by big celebrations – the Flint Centennial, Buick and General Motors’ 50th Anniversary and the production of the 50 millionth GM car. This was also a time when the area’s healthcare was booming, with seven hospitals and 2,200 hospital beds.
St. Joseph Hospital continued to grow and expand. It opened the St. Joseph School of Nursing in 1951; built an east wing in 1956, with an x-ray department, emergency, operating and delivery rooms; and then in 1958, expanded to add 150 more patient beds, bringing St. Joseph’s Hospital’s capacity up to 408 beds and 80 bassinets.
By 1959, Flint Osteopathic Hospital had outgrown its location and began major construction on a new 242-bed facility on 18 acres at the corner of Ballenger and Beecher Roads, right next to the Genesee County Tuberculosis Sanitarium. Construction for the hospital was completed in 1960.
By 1963, tuberculosis cases had declined significantly, and the Genesee County Tuberculosis Sanitarium as incorporated as Genesee Memorial Hospital. Eventually, Genesee Memorial Hospital expanded its capacity to 193 beds.
While St. Joseph and Flint Osteopathic Hospitals continued to thrive, a hospital in the rural community of Goodrich in southeast Genesee County was not faring as well. In 1961, Goodrich General Hospital closed after serving the community since being founded by Amos Wheelock, MD, in 1916.
The Goodrich community quickly rallied around the cause. About 100 residents gathered at a public meeting and submitted pledges and received additional support from the Industrial Mutual Association, Mott Foundation and General Motors.
Three years and $650,000 later, the community built a full-service, 53-bed hospital on 8.7 acres on Michigan Route 15. The hospital was named Wheelock Memorial Hospital, in memory of the founder of Goodrich’s original hospital.
In the 1960s and early 70s, St. Joseph Hospital continued to expand, introducing an outpatient clinic, intensive care unit, cardiac diagnostic lab, radiation therapy, nuclear medicine, and a 26-bed medical isolation ward, which raised the hospital’s total number of beds to 423.
Flint Osteopathic Hospital also complete expansion and remodeling projects in the 1970s, including a four story patient wing, and ancillary wing with administrative offices, an emergency room, physical therapy department, education wing, and a six-bed intensive care unit.
St. Joseph Hospital continued to modernize its facility and provided additional space for physicians, staff and patients in 1976. However, the Hospital had been added to many times, and its original 1930s design was becoming outdated and inflexible. So St. Joseph started considering a major new hospital building project.
By 1980, healthcare was changing daily. Like many communities across the country, Flint and Genesee County were facing growing healthcare dilemmas, such as too many hospital beds, skyrocketing costs and declining reimbursements. In addition, the state had issued a bed reduction plan requiring Genesee County to delicense 387 beds.
Following some deep soul searching and strategic planning, the Sisters of St. Joseph and the Board of Trustees for St. Joseph Hospital formed a holding company named Kensington Health Systems in 1980. The System changed its mission from one of caring for people when they are sick, to keeping people healthy. The management believed prevention is the most cost-efficient from of healthcare and would ultimately help businesses like General Motors to survive in our community.
From its start, the System’s goal has been to carry out its health mission and build a full range of healthcare services to continue meeting the community’s needs for many generations to come.
Over the next year, the System quickly started affiliating with and establishing a variety of community healthcare organizations, including a 95-bed skilled nursing home in Grand Blanc; a certified non-profit home health agency; an adult day care center; and an ambulatory health services and professional care management company.
Then, in 1982, Kensington Health Systems was renamed to St. Joseph Health Systems.
However, the issue of hospital bed reduction continued to affect the community. St. Joseph Health Systems was committed to addressing this issue, and eventually affiliated with Flint General Hospital in October 1981, and Wheelock Memorial Hospital in July 1982.
Flint General Hospital was a 115-bed hospital, which later was named Family Hospital. The area it served actually needed more primary care. Because of this, low occupancy and financial problems eventually prompted the System’s Board of Trustees to close and sell Family Hospital in 1983. It became known as Hamilton Family Health Center, and St. Joseph Health Systems applied the money from the sale toward a $1 million, decade of commitment to create the Healthy Students 2000 initiative.
In 1984, St. Joseph Health Systems created a for-profit affiliate to provide home respiratory therapy, durable medical equipment and other services. That same year, St. Joseph Family Medical Group was incorporated as a for-profit joint venture with primary care physicians.
By 1987, still determined to address the issue of too many hospitals, as well as growing demands for managed care and healthcare reform, St. Joseph Health Systems began affiliation discussions with the HealthSource Group, the parent holding company of Flint Osteopathic Hospital. On March 25, 1988, HealthSource Group and its related organizations affiliated with St. Joseph Health Systems. One year later, Genesee Memorial Hospital affiliated with St. Joseph Health Systems.
St. Joseph Health Systems had successfully affiliated with four of the remaining six hospitals. The long-range plans were to eventually merge the four hospitals.
In the meantime, there was still the problem of outdated and under-occupied facilities. It would cost too much to update and expand any of the existing hospitals. If the System was ever going to merge all employees and physicians into a single facility, it would need a new location with a new name to be accepted by all four hospitals.
With a great deal of consideration and extensive studies, the System decided to build one new hospital. And in February 1992, St. Joseph Health System filed for a Certificate of need to consolidate its 908 beds into one new 379-bed hospital in Grand Blanc Township.
A Certificate of Need was approved in July, and by November 1992, there was a new beginning for healthcare in the Flint area: St. Joseph Health Systems changed its name to Genesys Health System and the names of its four hospitals to Genesys Regional Medical Center. Under the new name, the four hospitals were identified as; Flint Osteopathic Campus, Genesee Memorial Campus, St. Joseph Campus and Wheelock Memorial Campus.
In the years leading up to the opening of the new hospital, Genesys continued to make strides in developing a truly integrated healthcare system. Another key component for the long-term vision of Genesys was the establishment of a Physician Hospital Organization. Today, this is known as the Genesys PHO.
In February 1997, Genesys made history by consolidating its four hospitals into one with the opening of Genesys Regional Medical Center at Health Park, which began serving patients on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 7 a.m. – the same time patients began moving from St. Joseph Hospital and then Flint Osteopathic. In its first 24 hours of operation, GRMC treated 54 Emergency Department admissions, including a patient suffering a heart attack who was brought in by helicopter from Alpena, Michigan (some 200 miles north); and delivered five babies (the hospital’s first baby, Brandon Michael Padot, was born on Feb. 15 at 10:45 a.m.).
In 1999, our founding sponsors made national history. The Sisters of St. Joseph and the Daughters of Charity joined their health ministries and systems to create Ascension Health. This allowed them to continue their vital role in the tradition and mission of Catholic healthcare. As a member of Ascension Health, our values at Genesys have emerged. We are called to:
- Service of the Poor
Since opening in 1997, Genesys Regional Medical Center has continued to gain recognition for its clinical excellence. The 410-bed center includes a level II emergency trauma center with a cardiac rapid diagnostic center that was built in 2006, the Genesys Heart Institute, the Family Birthing Center, and expanded clinical expertise in neurosciences, orthopedics, geriatric services, oncology, and minimally invasive surgical procedures in almost every specialty area.
Today, as the flagship of Genesys Health System, the hospital stands proudly as the centerpiece of the several hundred acre Health Park campus which continues to develop as well. In 2001, the Genesys Athletic Club opened on the campus to become one of the largest and most comprehensive health, fitness and sports facilities in the nation. Several years later, 600 Health Park was constructed to house outpatient services as Genesys concurrently continued focus on building its ambulatory business.
The Genesys PHO has solidified its position as a physician alliance capable of serving several hundred thousand people in our community. Today, over 150 primary care physicians in the Genesys network act as health advocates offering ready resources to outpatient ambulatory care, physical medicine treatment, substance abuse/addiction treatment, and mental health services.
Furthermore, recuperative or extended care is available at Genesys Convalescent Center, and Genesys Hospice Care Center (the former location of Wheelock Memorial Hospital) provides a much-needed care base for those with a life-limiting diagnosis. In addition, Genesys offers numerous in-home services including home health care, pharmaceutical/medical supplies, equipment, oxygen services, respite care and other related home care services.
Today, as the region’s leading healthcare provider and one of its top employers, Genesys Health System remains thoroughly committed to the medical, economic and spiritual vitality of our community. Every day, we literally serve and touch the lives of thousands of people in this region. In addition to standards of care that are continually ranked among the nation’s best for clinical excellence, Genesys also provides more than $27 million in charity care, uncompensated services and community benefits.
We support numerous community-based programs that help the uninsured get the access to care they so desperately need. That’s because our mission calls on us to improve the health and well-being of our community, wherever and whenever we are needed.
When the System formed in 1980, it had just over 2,500 employees. Today, our more than 5,000 ambassadors – our employees, physicians, volunteers and community partners – are carrying out a faith-based health ministry that spans centuries. From the start, our founding religious sponsors -- the Daughters of Charity and Sisters of St. Joseph -- actively went out into the cities of medieval France to tend to the suffering they found among the poor and sick. Almost 400 years later, Genesys continues this great and sacred work.