Dickinson Sister History

Our History

Serving the region since 1912

The first public meeting to organize a hospital drive was held on June 18, 1910. A group of citizens approached Bishop Vincent Wehrle of Bismarck for help. The Bishop agreed to assume the responsibility for $60,000 and the people would raise an additional $20,000 in private donations. With borrowed money, at 7% interest, and without Sisters to staff it, Bishop Wehrle built the original 40-room St. Joseph's Hospital in 1911 in Dickinson, North Dakota.

Having built the hospital, the Bishop's next step was finding Sisters to staff it. On his way to Rome early in 1912, Bishop Wehrle stopped at Ingenbohl, Switzerland to visit with the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross to urge his case personally. Records state that the Bishop's approach was like an assault in battle: he came, he spoke, he conquered!

Six Sisters arrived in Dickinson on March 22, 1912: Sister Lauda, Sister Clementine, Sister Philiberta, Sister Richardis, Sister Secundia, and Sister Auxentia. Their Mission was to meet the needs of the times. And what did they find? Only a shell for a hospital. No electricity, no bells for the patients, no elevator, no equipment in the operating rooms, X-Ray, laboratory, kitchen or laundry. The Bishop promised the Sisters $8.00 a month as salary - scarcely a living wage, even in those days.

History Timeline

  • The first patient was admitted on Holy Thursday, April 4, 1912.
  • In 1921, the Sisters received St. Joseph's Hospital as a gift from the Bismarck Diocese. Along with this gift they inherited the remaining debt of $68,000.
  • Additions to the facility took place in 1931, 1951, 1966, 1983, and 2000.
  • In October 1983, St. Joseph's Hospital's name was changed to St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center.
  • In February 1987, the Sisters of Mercy of the Holy Cross transferred sponsorship of St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center to Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI).
  • In 2008, St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center obtained status as a Critical Access Hospital.
  • In 2010 land was purchased for the site of a new hospital.
  • Ground was broken in October 2012 for the new hospital and clinic facility.
  • In 2014, under the leadership of its parent company Catholic Health Initiatives, St. Joseph's Hospital and Health Center took on a new name: "CHI St. Joseph's Health."
  • On December 8, 2014 at 8:00pm, the doors of CHI St. Joseph's Health's newly constructed hospital were opened to patients. At that time, the old hospital closed to new patients, and its current inpatients were transferred to the new hospital. One baby patient was transferred by ambulance, and eight adult patients were moved via medibus (a converted school bus) which was supplied by the ND Department of Health.
  • In April 2016, CHI St. Joseph's Health became CHI St. Alexius Health Dickinson, joining together with 12 other locations in North Dakota to form the CHI St. Alexius Health Regional Healthcare System.