History of Mercy Fitzgerald

Thomas FitzgeraldIn 1922, local banker and businessman Thomas M. Fitzgerald willed his property and funds to establish a hospital on Lansdowne Avenue in Darby, Pa. Seven years later, May Fitzgerald used $1.25 million from her late husband’s trust and worked with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to plan Delaware County’s first Catholic hospital. Ground broke in 1932 and a year later, 30,000 people witnessed the dedication of the hospital, known at that time as Fitzgerald Mercy Hospital.

To manage hospital operations, the Archdiocese drew upon the vast health care experience of the Sisters of Mercy—who had already experienced great success with Misericordia (now Mercy Philadelphia) that was established 15 years earlier in West Philadelphia. The Sisters agreed to rent Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital from the Archdiocese for $1 a year.

By the end of its first year in operation, the hospital had provided $38,837 in free care, treated 7,354 patients and had 352 births.

In July 1936, the first group of medical and surgical interns arrived, marking the start of a rich tradition of Graduate Medical Education at the hospital. A nursing school opened in 1942, providing many locals with quality nurse training and education until it was phased out in the 1970s.

In 1950, the Archdiocese transferred ownership of the hospital to the Sisters of Mercy. 

During its 85-year history, Mercy Fitzgerald has been recognized, both locally and nationally, for innovative milestones in the field of medicine and patient care. In 1953, the hospital had a record number of nearly 3,000 births, ranking it among the top ten in the nation.

Mercy Fitzgerald was the first to introduce a hospital-administered Home Care Program in 1969, first to open an inpatient psychiatric facility in 1977, and one of the first to provide paramedic services in the early 1980s. In more recent years, the hospital was the first in the County to install the cutting-edge 64-Slice CT scanner and the first in the region to launch photo ID bracelets for patients as part of efforts to improve patient safety. 

Today, Mercy Fitzgerald is a 204-bed teaching community hospital that serves approximately more than 186,000 patients each year in Delaware County and Southwest Philadelphia.