Evolution of the Facility
[The hospital] had been closed without any acknowledgement of the important work that it had done and what it represented in the community. It did represent a very particular part in medicine because the Sisters had still kept quite a tight control of discipline and motivation in the place.
– Dr. Erik Williams
After purchasing the Van Haarlem, the Sisters of St. Martha began looking for a site to build a larger and more modern hospital to complement services offered by the Galt (later Municipal, then Regional) Hospital. They chose a property on 9 Avenue and 13 Street South, and opened a new 100-bed facility on September 9, 1931.
As the population of Lethbridge expanded, “St. Mike’s” evolved to meet the needs of the community. An east wing was added in 1951, providing 83 more beds to the facility; this brought the total to 181 beds and 18 bassinets. Shortly afterward, a nurses’ residence was completed to accompany the new St. Michael’s School of Nursing, opened in 1954.
St. Michael’s was expanded again in 1965 with a new wing, which included an emergency and x-ray department, multiple operating rooms and a maternity ward complete with new delivery suites. This addition increased the hospital’s capacity to 207 beds and was the last major expansion that St. Michael’s experienced.
The provincial government reorganized hospital services in Lethbridge in the 1980s, shifting some of St. Michael’s operations to a new regional facility. In 1985, the Alberta Catholic Hospital Foundation took over operation of St. Michael’s Hospital from the Sisters of St. Martha. Ten years later, St. Michael’s closed its doors and the building was demolished in 1996.
The closure of the hospital was deeply felt in the community. However, St. Michael’s Health Centre was built in its place in 2000. The facility is now part of a province-wide Catholic health care organization known as Covenant Health, which provides acute care, continuing care, palliative care and independent living for seniors.
The temporary exhibit St. Michael’s: 90 Years of Compassionate Care is on display at the Galt Museum & Archives until September 29.