In the spirit of our founders, St. Vincent de Paul, St. Louise de Marillac, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the Daughters of Charity Health System is committed to serving the sick and poor. With Jesus Christ as our model, we advance and strengthen the healing mission of the Catholic Church by providing comprehensive, excellent healthcare that is compassionate and attentive to the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. We promote healthy families, responsible stewardship of the environment, and a just society through value-based relationships and community-based collaboration.
|Respect||Recognizing our own value and the value of others|
|Compassionate Service||Providing excellent care with gentleness and kindness|
|Simplicity||Acting with integrity, clarity and honesty|
|Advocacy for the Poor||Supporting those who lack resources for a healthy life and full human development|
|Inventiveness to Infinity||Being continuously resourceful and creative|
Located in Daly City, California, Seton Medical Center is situated on a hilltop in Northern San Mateo County, adjacent to the City of San Francisco and the Pacific Ocean, and in close proximity to Silicon Valley. Known as the “Gateway to the Peninsula,” Daly City is San Mateo County’s largest and most ethnically diverse city. For many years, Daly City was considered a suburban residential community. Seton’s service area encompasses 1.5 million residents in the highly diverse San Mateo and San Francisco counties.
Founded as Mary’s Help Hospital in 1893 by the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Seton Medical Center has been providing medical care to the people of San Francisco and Northern San Mateo County for over a century.
The Daughters of Charity, whose mission is to care for the sick and the poor, first came to San Francisco in 1852 at the request of Archbishop Joseph Alemany. Their charge was to establish and operate a school for orphaned boys and girls located at the present site of the Sheraton Palace Hotel on Market and Montgomery Streets. By 1858, the school was serving 75 resident orphans and 300 day-students.
In 1889 Kate Johnson, a wealthy San Francisco widow, made a gift to the San Francisco Archdiocese to purchase the land and build a “sunshine hospital” for women and children. A condition of the gift was that the Daughters of Charity be invited to manage the hospital.
Mrs. Johnson had been impressed with the work of the Daughters of Charity with the sick and the poor during her travels in Europe. The Daughters were well established in many European countries at that time, having been founded by St. Vincent de Paul, a parish priest, and St. Louise de Marillac, a pious widow, in 17th century France.
They were established to meet the material and spiritual needs of orphans, beggars, prisoners, the sick, refugees, and the mentally ill. Their humble, simple, loving service was to bring God’s love to those overlooked by society. They were not restricted to a convent but free to visit homes, hospitals, and prisons. These were the Sisters Mrs. Johnson wanted to operate the hospital she was funding.
The new building was completed in 1906 but, before it was occupied, it was destroyed by the earthquake and fire of April 18 that same year. Along with the destruction of the physical plant, a number of properties Johnson had bequeathed to finance hospital operations were also destroyed. It took years of legal disputes to free the remainder of the Johnson legacy to rebuild the hospital.
Mary’s Help Hospital
On July 2, 1912, Mary’s Help Hospital opened on Guerrero Street in San Francisco. The School of Nursing began the same year, and the clinic, which was to become the largest clinic in a private hospital in northern California, opened on July 19, 1913.
Over the years, as the hospital expanded its services to meet the growing demands of the people, not only did the Sisters provide free and partial payment care to clinic patients, they also fed the hungry who came every day. There was free medication for the poor. In addition, the Sisters and nurses visited patients in their homes, supplying food, clothing and medicine.
By the 1950s, the demands on the hospital were growing to the point that expansion of the 1.5-acre plant was critical; 30,000 patients were treated in the clinic annually. While the various options and sources of fund-raising were being explored, a 1957 earthquake damaged the building, a situation that cemented the decision to build a new hospital on a larger site.
Seton Medical Center
The Daughters commissioned a survey to determine the need for hospital beds and services in San Francisco and northern San Mateo County. The survey revealed San Francisco had a surplus of hospital beds and northern San Mateo County needed hospital and emergency services. Because of the generosity of several donors and public fund drives, a new hospital, again designed to provide sunlight and views for all patients, was built on Sullivan Avenue in Daly City and opened offering full services on Sunday, December 12, 1965. In 1983, Mary’s Help Hospital was renamed Seton Medical Center in honor of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, the American foundress of the Daughters of Charity and the first American-born canonized saint.
Joining a Health System
In 1995, the Daughters of Charity, Province of the West, joined Catholic Healthcare West (CHW). The Daughters of Charity remained the religious sponsors of Seton Medical Center and Seton Medical Center Coastside. On January 2, 2002, Seton Medical Center was reacquired by the Daughters of Charity and is now a member of the Daughters of Charity Health System.
Under the new health system, Seton Medical Center renewed its commitment to fulfilling the Daughters’ mission of serving the sick, the poor, and the underserved. The delivery of our health care is characterized by our strong commitment to treating the dignity of the whole person: body, mind, and spirit. We will continue to contribute financial support and quality health services that benefit our patients, their families, and our community. Seton Medical Center is constantly contributing to this effort through research, education, patient care and benevolence.
Our history is testimony to our service to the poor. Today, our 357-bed facility offers a comprehensive range of medical, surgical and specialty programs. Seton Medical Center continues its tradition of caring and responding appropriately and generously to the challenges of the present turbulent health care environment and works collaboratively with our professional staffs, donors, and community partners to shape the future of available health care.