History of Good Samaritan Hospital, Cincinnati

Good Samaritan Hospital Beginnings

Although not originally affiliated with the Sisters of Charity organization, the building which would eventually become the original Good Samaritan Hospital was built in the 1830′sin downtown Cincinnati at Sixth and Lock streets. It was originallybuilt by the US federal government as the Cincinnati Marine Hospital in order to care for US Marines (rivermen)stationed along the western US rivers including the Ohio River in Cincinnati. It was built from a generic pattern by American Architect, Robert Mills. However, after the hospital was built, it turned out there were insufficient numbers of Marines needing hospital care to open the facility for business. Consequently, the building was largely unused for several decades until the start of the Civil War when there was a need for hospital space.

Early in the Civil War, there was great need for hospital care near the battlefields close to the Mason-Dixon Line in order to care for the many wounded soldiers. The Cincinnati Marine Hospitalwasused for this temporary purpose and functioned as the Military Hospital of Cincinnati operated by the US Army Medical Department during the Civil War. After the war, the hospital quickly returned to its prewar state of relative disuse. In response, the US government decided to put the building up for sale. In 1866, the hospital building was purchased by two local Cincinnati businessmen as a gift to the Sisters of Charity organizationto be re-opened under new management as the newly named Good Samaritan Hospital.

Fourteen years prior to this, Archbishop John Purcell, recognizing the need for a hospital in Cincinnati that would provide care to people who could notafford the medical treatment they needed,purchased a 21-bed former eye hospital and turned it over to the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati in 1852. Thus began the involvement of the Sister of Charity organization in theCincinnati health care scene.This hospital was named St. John’s Hotel for Invalids, was located at the corner of Broadway and Woodward, and was the first private hospital in Cincinnati.

The Sisters of Charity organizationhad originally been founded in Baltimore, Maryland in 1809 by Sister Elizabeth Seton who set up a series of free Catholic schools for girls staffed by Sisters. Sister Seton is often creditted with establishing the parochial school system in the United States. In 1829, the organization expanded and founded an orphanage and school for girlsin Cincinnati, and in1852 they started a boy’s orphanage in Cincinnati. Later that same year, they were placed in charge of St. John’s Hotel for the Invalids in Cincinnatiby Archbishop Purcell.

In 1855, three years after St. John’s Hotel for Invalids opened, demand compelled the sisters to relocate to a larger building. Four members of the medical staff paid the costs of relocating and renovating an old colonial mansion at the corner of Third and Plum Streets known as the Ruffner Mansionto accommodate 75 beds, and the new facility was named St. John’s Hospital. Over the next decade, St. John’s Hospital was a busy place.

During this time at St. Johns’ Hospital, a destitute man suffering from typhoid fever passed a many-weeks-long recovery at St. John’s, and when he recovered, the sisters gave him a job. A wealthy local banker, Joseph C. Butler, had originally referred the man to the hospital and was tremendously impressed by thefree care the man had received. WhenMr. Butlerattempted to pay the man’s bills, the sisters dismissed the charges, explaining that their care was “for the love of God.”

Wanting to help this effective and charitable organization, Butlerrecruited his friend Louis Worthington, and purchasedthe large military hospital that was being sold by the U.S. Government at the close of the Civil War. In 1866, the deed was presented to the Sisters of Charitywith two conditions: that no one be excluded from the hospital because of his color or religion, and that the hospital be renamed “The Hospital of the Good Samaritan,” in honor of the sisters’ kindness. The new 95-bed Good Samaritan Hospital opened at Sixth and Lock Streets, in downtown Cincinnati, in October 1866 under management by the Sisters of Charity.

Medical education at Good Samaritan Hospital began later in 1866. The facilities at Good Samaritan Hospital first provided training grounds for the Medical College of Ohio and Miami Medical College and the work of several early physicians brought the hospital national acclaim. The surgical amphitheater, built largely as a result of contributions solicited by staff member and surgeon Robert Bartholow MD, was the scene of early investigational work in general surgery, brain surgery and obstetrics. By 1875, 800 medical students were being trained in Cincinnati, many of them at Good Samaritan Hospital. And by 1899, the first class of eight nurses had graduated from the Good Samaritan Hospital School of Nursing.

GoodSamaritan HospitalMoves to the Current Clifton Location

In 1907, as the hillsides surrounding Cincinnati began to be developed, a five-bed annex to the downtown Cincinnati Sixth and Lock Streets main Good Samaritan Hospital location was established in the old Resor mansion at the corner of Clifton and Resor Avenues in the Cincinnati neighborhood of Clifton. When the decision was made to relocate the entire Good Samaritan Hospital enterpriseto Clifton, the Resor property was deemed “too hilly.” Instead, Sister Victoria Fulweiler, the hospital’s administrator, secured acres at Good Samaritan’s current Cliftonsite on Dixmyth Avenue. Longtime benefactor Joseph C. Butler, Jr. was contacted and gave generously providing the sisters with 6acres adjoining the property they had purchased, and construction of the new Good Samaritan Hospital campus in Clifton was completed in 1915.

Figure Legend: Radiation Therapyroomapproximately 1915.

Figure Legend: Good Samaritan Hospital Victoria Hall, the student nurse residence, viewed from Clifton Ave. 1927.

Figure Legend: Good Samaritan Hospital Victoria Hall, the student nurse residence, viewed from Clifton Ave. 1927.

Good Samaritan Hospital in Current Times

Since opening in its current location as a two-wing facility in 1915, the hospital has grown to one of the largest hospitals in the city, encompassing more than a city block. A third wing opened in 1927 and increased the hospital’s capacity to 639 beds. A fourth wing was opened in 1959. The Dixmyth patient care tower building opened in 1985. An extensive renovation including a new 10-story expansion of the Dixmyth tower was completed in 2007. This added 175,000square feet, or nearly seven acres of clinical space to the campus. The project also included renovation of 75,000square feet of existing space, including radiology, cardiology, pulmonology, vascular, obstetrics and the emergency department. An additional Emergency Department expansion project opened in 2009.

Construction of an off-campus facility on the West side of Cincinnati on Harrison Avenue near the I-74 Rybolt named “Western Ridge” was completed in 2010. The Western Ridge facility includes a full Emergency Department (staffed by the Good Samaritan ER physician group), physician offices, outpatient testing, and outpatient radiology services including radiography and CT scan. Radiology services for Western Ridgeare provided by Medical X-ray, Inc., and an MXI radiologist ison-site to during regular business hours. The Western Ridge facilityis connected to the Good Samaritan Hospital Radiology PACS system so the MXI Radiologist stationed at Western Ridge can also read radiology work from Good Samaritan Hospital to maximize efficiency, interaction, and communication.

In 2011, construction began on a GHA Clifton outpatient building located on the Good Samaritan Hospital campus with plans to close the GHA Clifton office building on the corner of Clifton and MLK and move to the new GHA building in 2012.

Figure Legend: 2007 Good Samaritan Hospital Radiology Department Renovation,

MRI Entrance, 5th floor.


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