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History of St. Catherine Hospital

Legacy of Medical Progress and Change

Where Community and Caring Meet

St. Catherine Hospital accepted its first patient in May 1928. It has delivered healing, hope and high-quality care to people from all walks of life ever since.

The beginning

East Chicago was a city without a hospital for 25 years. Settled in the 1890's, the idea of building a hospital didn't take root until steel-making and manufacturing created massive job opportunities, attracting immigrants from all over the world.

As the city grew, the Manufacturers Association of East Chicago led by First National Bank of East Chicago founder Col. Walter J. Riley, pledged nearly $500,000 to spur interest in building a medical facility. 

Inland Steel Company, now Arcelor Mittal, donated land. Other pledges rolled in, from companies like:

  • Northern Indiana Public Service Company
  • Standard Oil Company - (BP)

The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ, founded in Germany in 1851 by Katherine Kasper, initially pledging $750,000, upped the contribution to $1 million. The Poor Handmaids (Ancilla Domini) had been advocates for the hospital construction since 1917. World War I and the 1919 steel strike kept construction at bay until April 21, 1927.

St. Catherine's Hospital was dedicated on April 22, 1928 to honor three prominent women: Blessed Mary Katherine Kasper, who founded The Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ; Catherine Riley, mother of Col. Riley; and Mother Catherine, who led Ancilla Domini hospitals in America at the time. Today, the original, possessive title for St. Catherine Hospital remains etched on the original building, east of the South Entrance.

Early "firsts" for the hospital include:

  • School of X-ray Technology; full-time School of Nursing
  • Polio care
  • Open-heart procedures to achieve acclaim as The Heart Center for Northwest Indiana
  • Cancer Registry, Sleep Disorder Center and Urology Center

Expansion and Growth

The hospital has expanded its footprint and its national reputation for award-winning care over the decades: The Fir Street annex was built in 1945. Block Memorial Wing opened in 1959. The "E" building was remodeled in 1961. A Professional Office Building was added in 1971. The patient tower was built in 1987. Family Birthing Center opened in 1997.

In 2001, St. Catherine Hospital became a member of the Community Healthcare System. The Ancilla Domini Sisters involvement in operations of the not-for-profit hospital ceased at that time. Today, the Poor Handmaids of Jesus Christ remain a part of Pastoral Care of St. Catherine Hospital and St. Catherine Hospital Auxiliary.

Over the years, the hospital has continued its legacy to advance modern health care for the people it serves. Significant investments have been made in capital improvements, technology and service line initiatives.

In recent years, St. Catherine Hospital brought CyberKnife® to the scene for targeted cancer and tumor treatment. The Catheterization Lab and Surgical Services has broadened to include robotic surgery and interventional cardiology.

Since 2017, the hospital has renovated its Intensive Care Unit, Behavioral Health Services inpatient units for adults and older adults, North and South lobby and Family Birthing Center. The campus has been improved, as has the Professional Office Building for outpatient care and physician services.