Published on March 27, 2018

Celebrating 100 years of service to the community

Learn about the wonderful history of Mercy Philadelphia

A century ago, the doors to a new hospital opened to meet the needs of the West Philadelphia community.

That hospital, now known as Mercy Philadelphia, continues to serve the area and to evoke a strong sense of connection for many people who have been patients or employees over the years.

“I’ve been with Mercy for 10 years, and there is just something about this organization that grabs you,” says Susan Cusack, Executive Director of Mercy Philadelphia.

As we celebrate 100 years of service, here are eight things to know about Mercy Philadelphia’s anniversary:

Watch: Misericordia to Mercy Philadelphia –
100 Years of Mercy

Mercy Philadelphia was previously Misericordia. The name changed to Mercy Philadelphia Hospital about 15 years ago.

July 2, 1918, is a key date. That’s when Misericordia opened its doors, and it took in its first patient two days later.

The hospital was always at 54th and Cedar. The original lobby is still there. “It looks much like it did back in 1918,” Cusack says. “It’s amazing what great care people took of it.”

Mother Patricia Waldron had a goal. Archbishop Prendergast asked the Sisters of Mercy to build a hospital to meet the needs of the community. To help pay for the hospital, Mother Patricia Waldron mortgaged property held by the Sisters of Mercy to the Beneficial Savings Fund Society. Some of those original documents were recently rediscovered in storage—still in pristine condition.

Built by the father of “The Man Who Built Washington.” John McShain Sr. built Misericordia. His son was the famous contractor behind the Pentagon, the Jefferson Memorial and other federal buildings.

The hospital played a key role in the global flu epidemic and Great War. Early in its history, Misericordia helped a nation heal from the effects of the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918–1919 and the World War I. “It was one of the first hospitals to really start taking care of the influenza patients,” Cusack says. “And a portion of the hospital was used to care for returning war veterans.”

Serving is still central to Mercy Philadelphia’s identity. Mercy’s mission is to serve together in the spirit of the Gospel as a compassionate and transforming healing presence within our communities. “We talk about how our mission is to care for the poor and the vulnerable,” Cusack says. “Our compassionate providers and high-quality healthcare services reflect that.”

After 100 years, it’s still a special place. Asked to describe what makes Mercy Philadelphia special, Cusack points to the personal connections you won’t always find at a large academic center. “There’s just such an opportunity to have that one-on-one relationship, whether you’re a patient or staff,” Cusack says. “I always say, ‘If you don’t like to be hugged, don’t come to Mercy Philadelphia’.”