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

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Source: hmpartners.org. 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.