As far back as 1916, Bishop Cornelius Van de Ven of Natchitoches had asked Mother M. Teresa to build a hospital in Alexandria, and several times afterward both he and his successor, the Rev. Daniel F. Desmond, reiterated the request. But for one reason or another, the hospital never materialized.
In 1946, not long after his consecration as Bishop of Alexandria, the Rev. Charles P. Greco asked Mother M. Elizabeth O'Neill to reconsider the matter, pledging $200,000 from his people. Mother O'Neill and her council agreed to accept the work, and the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, ground was broken for the St. Frances Cabrini Hospital.
When he was a child, Bishop Greco met Mother Cabrini, so it gave him great pleasure to have in his diocese this first major Catholic institution dedicated to the first canonized citizen of the United States. The cornerstone was blessed and laid on October 21, 1949. The $3 million, 126-bed hospital was opened on the feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 1950.
Sister M. Stephanie Ryan, Cabrini hospital's first superior, reported, "The open house lasted until late in the evening. Even after dark, people were still arriving. The police, who directed traffic for the Sisters, stated that the number far exceeded seven thousand. This response on the part of the public is very encouraging."
CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital officially opened on April 1, 1950 and Mr. W. J. Bordelon was the first patient to be admitted. That evening around 11:30 p.m., the first baby was delivered at the hospital and named Sally by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. M. Phillips. A portrait of Sally Phillips is permanently displayed in the lobby of Cabrini's Woman's Pavilion.
By April 2, 1950, more than 56 patients had been admitted and a variety of surgeries was being performed. St. Frances Cabrini Hospital was the first of many buildings designed for the Sisters of Charity Health System by Houston architects Goleman and Rolfe. In 1951, the architects received an award of merit from the American Institute of Architects for the Cabrini project.
Responding to the needs of a growing community, an expansion program was initiated in 1965. In 1969, a six-story addition was built, increasing the hospital's capacity to 254 beds.
Throughout history, St. Frances Cabrini Hospital has consistently been recognized as a high-quality health care provider for the more than 400,000 residents of Central Louisiana.
On March 21, 1975, a milestone was reached as Central Louisiana's first open-heart surgery was performed at Cabrini Hospital. The equipment that made open-heart surgery possible was purchased with a donation from the Coughlin-Saunders Foundation.
CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital was also the first in the area to house an intensive care unit, as well as a neonatal intensive care unit for premature and critically ill infants.
Today CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital is a fully accredited, 255-bed health care center, employing 1,500 people to serve the community. In addition to the services available on the main hospital campus, Cabrini provides medical care and health education in 14 school-based health centers in five parishes and in the Cabrini Family Care Unit, a mobile clinic servicing rural areas, in Central Louisiana.
In 1999 CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini Hospital became part of CHRISTUS Health System as the Sisters of Charity Health System and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word Health System were consolidated. A 130-plus-year tradition of love, respect and hope goes hand in hand with the latest technology to provide the highest quality medical care.