For 125 years Mount Carmel has reached out to heal matters of mind body and soul|
ON A MISSION: For 125 years, Mount Carmel has reached out to heal matters of mind, body and soul
By Kate Jacobson
What started in a small, four-story brick building in 1886 has grown into an expansive network of hospitals and health clinics throughout central Ohio.
Despite huge changes, Mount Carmel's mission has stayed the same, said Sister Barbara Hahl, who directs community outreach for the health system. 'We have a special emphasis on women, the poor and the underserved. We offer programs for the mind, body and soul.'
Mount Carmel Health System is celebrating 125 years of service rooted in Catholicism and faith.
In 1886, the Sisters of the Holy Cross traveled from Notre Dame, Ind., to Columbus. They moved into an empty building that would become a new hospital.
Hawkes Hospital of Mount Carmel, as it was called, was located in present-day Franklinton, where Mount Carmel West now stands.
Hahl, who has worked at Mount Carmel for 30 years, said the sisters had to beg community members to furnish the hospital. They collected everything from food and surgical supplies to livestock and beds.
On July 16 that year, the hospital opened its doors.
"That was their willingness to put themselves on the line," Hahl said. "If you want something to operate and help the poor, you can't be afraid to ask.
"That's our mission."
Mount Carmel Health CEO Claus von Zychlin said those Catholic principles continue to guide the hospital system today.
In 2010, it spent $147 million on community outreach programs, which include mobile clinics that serve low-income residents and homeless people.
He said more than 200,000 people in the Columbus area received a portion of those benefits.
Von Zychlin said that beyond community service, the staff and physicians at East, West, St. Ann's and New Albany Surgical Hospital are well-trained and equipped to provide the best care possible.
The hospital system "is based on Catholic heritage, but that includes the ability to care for everyone who comes to our doors," he said.
That's why Oliva Gervace Farewell, 28, works for Mount Carmel.
Four years ago, a friend became ill and was rushed to East.
Farewell said she and her friend were treated with kindness and care. When her friend recovered, Farewell was determined to get a job with Mount Carmel.
Two years later, she became an orthopedics technician at St. Ann's.
"I saw the compassion - I saw the care from the nurses," Farewell said. "I said to myself, 'I want to work here.'"
At a special Eucharistic celebration on Thursday to honor the hospital system, Columbus Bishop Frederick F. Campbell recounted his stay at Mount Carmel West four years ago after he'd suffered a heart attack.
He said the main mission of every staff member should be to provide the best care to every patient.
"They will be touched in their spirit," he said. "They will at least know they're a human person surrounded by concern and care."
Hahl said the future of Mount Carmel Health is bright. The system, she said, still will push to give back more to the community. She said the hospitals will expand and more people will be served.
Dr. Daniel Wendorff, medical director for Mount Carmel Health Partners, said one of the biggest challenges will be health-care reform.
"Change is happening - and change is happening quickly - and I see (Mount Carmel Health) being ready for whatever comes at us," Wendorff said.
Carol Stewart, 72, of Franklinton, said she has been cared for at West for years. So have her children and grandchildren.
"There is an air about (Mount Carmel) that you'll be taken care of and that they care what happens to you," Stewart said. "They're a good friend to the neighborhood."