LIMA — As a way to celebrate its centennial year, Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center hosted a banquet Thursday at Veterans Memorial Civic Center to honor not only the Sisters of Mercy who helped build the foundation of the hospital but other prominent employees as well.
“The sisters were able to open the doors earlier than they thought,” said Bob Baxter, President and CEO of Mercy Health-Lima and Toledo. “I could not have imagined what the sisters must have been feeling while under pressure and under resourced. But they accepted the challenge as the Sisters of Mercy, around the world, have always done and delivered on their promise to the response to the critical needs of the community.”
Sister Rita Wasserman, the last sister CEO of St. Rita’s, said in a video presented during the banquet that she found joy in welcoming everyone who came through the hospital doors and has enjoyed helping others through ministry.
“I was a leader and I passed the baton to Mr. Reber who was the first lead administrator,” said Wasserman. “It was always a sister and I was the last sister and Jim took the leadership which was really beautiful and rewarding. I think you see my guardian spirit as you walk through this hospital.”
During the banquet Baxter presented a video featuring Sister Rita Wasserman, Sister Noelle Fry and Sister Rose Marie Golembiewski who spoke about their journey at St. Rita’s and how it began to evolve over the years. Also guest speakers Jim Reber, former president and CEO of Mercy Health-St. Rita’s and Dr. Anne Gideon, former chief of staff and board chairwoman, spoke about their journey relocating to Lima for work at the hospital and their experience while there.
Since 1918, St. Rita’s has evolved into a healthcare system that provides services to 10 counties with two emergency departments, 11 family medicine offices, a main medical center, three urgent cares, the Henry and Beverly Hawk Heart Institute, and more. Within the last year the hospital provided services to approximately 200,000 patients.
“I’ve been reflecting a lot on our history lately as we are in a time of great healthcare transformation and change,” said Baxter. “There are more questions than answers and more recently more financial needs than there are resources but our heritage reminds us that our concerns pale in comparison to what our predecessors faced.”
Reber believes St. Rita’s will continue to thrive for many years because of its size and financial strength.
“I’m really excited about where things will head, and I can’t wait to see where we are in the next five to twenty years,” said Reber. “I think its going to be pretty darn good.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews