Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital


Source: Used by permission

I literally owe my life to St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. I was born there and from what I understand survived a bout with pneumonia as a child because of their care. St. Elizabeth or “St. E’s” has played a big and positive part in my family story throughout the years.

Growing up on the West Side, the back windows of our home overlooked the Mahoning Valley and we could see the growing complex of St. Elizabeth from those windows. The hospital was established over 100 years ago by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary on Belmont Avenue and has always been committed to excellent health care that values the sacredness of human life. It is now part of the Mercy Health system which is the largest health system in the state of Ohio and one of the largest Catholic health care systems in the country. St. Elizabeth Youngstown is the only Level One Trauma Center in the Mahoning Valley.

My main encounter with St. Elizabeth in my youth was when I broke my thumb in a baseball game and had to go to the emergency room to get it X-rayed and into a cast. In later years, the hospital would play an increasingly important role in my parent’s health care which allowed them to live with a good quality of life into their nineties.

One Thanksgiving weekend, we were home to visit family when my father complained of shortness of breath. We went to Emergency where he was diagnosed with congestive heart failure due to a heart valve problem. A skilled heart surgeon fixed that valve and the fix held up for another twenty years, to the end of his life.

Later on, both of my parents experienced life-threatening illnesses. What we appreciated was the level of communication between various specialists and nursing staff in developing treatment plans that saved their lives on several occasions. As family, we were kept informed and cared for as well. For each of our parents, we had them in our lives probably at least ten years longer than may otherwise have been the case because of the care they received at St. E’s.

While we did not grow up Catholic, we appreciated the spiritual emphasis and the valuing of the sacredness of life when it came to trusting loved ones to procedures that could make the difference between life and death. It was both our and our doctors’ hospital of choice. In recent years, St. Elizabeth has opened a facility in Boardman. However, St. Elizabeth Youngstown continues to represent a beacon of hope as it looks out over the Mahoning Valley.


5 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital

  1. When my mom had cancer in the ’50s, she had surgery at St. E’s. While a student at YSU in the ’60s, I dated a few St. E’s student nurses. I remember picking up my date at the nurse’s dorm and being checked out by their Guardian, a rather large Great Dane. A few years later, I married my wife who had recently graduated from St. E’s. We have a brick from the old Student Dorm. I am glad that it is still there and providing much needed services.

  2. Robert, I think that it’s also important to note that this hospital was named in honor of the noblewoman, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, whose works of charity inspired many – especially the Hungarian-Americans who influenced the Youngstown area more than most realize. Since I’m relatively new to reading your blog, you may have already done this. Showcasing the various ethnic groups of our area would be an interesting read.

    • Alice, I was not aware of this. Thank you for sharing this historical background and for the idea of showcasing different ethnic groups. I’ve touched on this tangentially, for example in a post on Holy Name Church. This is a significant part of the fabric of Youngstown history. The challenge is to do justice to each group.

  3. Across from the St. ELIZABETH Hospital was their Nursing school ,also called St Elizabeth’s Nursing school in an old mansion on Belmont Avenue. It had dormitories that the nursing students lived in and a cool tunnel that went from the nursing school under Belmont Ave. To the hospital. One of the crazy rules was there if you had a boyfriend you had to visit with him in the parlor of the old mansion . And only during certain hours too, try enforcing that rule now a days! Probably wouldn’t get too far with that! Lol!

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