St. Rita’s through the years: 1918-1968


1827 – 1847

• Sept. 24, 1827 — Mother Catherine McAuley opened first house of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland

• Dec. 12, 1831 — Mother McAuley professed vows as the first Sister of Mercy and becomes the founder of the Mercy community

• 1843 — Sisters of Mercy arrive in the United States, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

• 1847 — First Mercy Hospital in the world built, Mercy Hospital of Pittsburgh


First 25 years


• Dec. 11, 1918 — St. Rita’s Hospital opens early due to flu epidemic

• Hospital is named in honor of the Patron Saint of the Impossible, St. Rita

• St. Rita’s School of Nursing opened

• Jan. 6, 1919 — Ruth Simmons is first baby born at St. Rita’s

• The hospital’s first surgery was an appendectomy performed by Dr. Steiner. The patient, James Halfhill, later became a doctor.

• 1921 — Five women comprise the first class to graduate from the St. Rita’s School of Nursing

• 1938 — Dr. Donald English becomes the first director of Radiology

50-year mark

1943 – 1968

• A new seven-story addition opens with an increase of 150 beds to help overcome the area’s shortage of hospital beds.

• Sister Mary Aquin Keating is named administrator

• 1961 — Dedication of the new School of Nursing

• March 4, 1963 — Four baby girls, the Axe quads, become the first multiple births in a Lima hospital. Phil and Barbara Axe were parents of the double set of twins, Susan Marie, Anna Marie, Julie Marie and Rita Marie. They had four other children as well, Kathy, Chuck, Joe and Tim. Barbara Axe was a nurse and noted in a past newspaper story that she chose to be awake for the birth of her quads because of the history of the moment.

• 1966 — Intensive care unit opens