The PeaceHealth Story
A Heritage of Healing
On August 3, 1890, two members of the fledgling Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace left their convent in Newark, New Jersey, bound for Fairhaven, Washington, a remote logging community in the country's far northwest corner. Their charge: to build a hospital to care for loggers, mill workers, fisherman and their families.
The opening of St. Joseph Hospital ushered in more than a century of Catholic health care ministry in the Pacific Northwest by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace and their lay colleagues. The order's Foundress, Mother Francis Clare, was an activist Irish nun whose reformist zeal often put her at odds with Church hierarchy. She became internationally known for her work and writing on behalf of women and the poor. By 1916, the spirit that defined and launched the health care ministry in Fairhaven had grown to include five hospitals in Washington, Alaska and British Columbia. In 1936 it reached Oregon as well.
In the early 1970s, the Sisters decided to form a separate structure to oversee their hospital services to more effectively meet the challenges of contemporary health care and to partner with qualified laypersons who shared in this important work. The name of the organization was changed to PeaceHealth in 1994 to better reflect our mission and heritage. In March 1997 the health system board of trustees was granted status as a Private Pontifical Juridic Person to ensure the continuation of the healing ministry as a Catholic health system under lay leadership in service to the communities.
To this day, the religious community remains committed to its Foundress's vision of achieving peace through social justice in its life and ministries. The Sisters have entrusted to their lay colleagues the important mission of carrying on the healing mission of Jesus through exceptional medicine and healing in a gracious and compassionate manner to all those come to PeaceHealth for care.