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Hospital Services 

When St. Mary’s opened in 1912, the focus was on treating serious illness (the most common of which was pneumonia) and providing necessary surgeries (the greatest number were appendectomies and removal of tonsils and adenoids).

At the time, most babies were born at home, unless complications arose. Through Dec. 31, 1914, St. Mary’s recorded just 10 births, three of which were premature and seven of which required C-sections. Because some medical services, such as emergency medicine and surgery, were always part of the hospital, the following is a sampling of other specialized services for hospital patients.

Additional Timelines

1925- The Obstetrical Department (once called the Maternity Ward) accepted patients several months earlier than the February 1926 dedication of the South Wing, where the area was located.

1927- A comprehensive Diagnostic Department was established, inviting patients – at their doctor’s advice – to stay overnight and receive complete examinations, including lab and X-ray tests, for a set charge.

1927- The Outpatient Clinic opened, initially providing maternal and child care and later including eye, ear, nose and throat care and non-emergency medical services.

1948- A full-fledged, specially equipped Pediatrics Department opened.

1952- The area’s first Physical Therapy Department was created in response to the polio epidemic of the early 1950s.

1957- A full-fledged Psychiatry Department opened, and the Occupational Therapy Department was started to serve these patients.

1958- Plans were announced for a comprehensive Cardiovascular Program, which was built in a planned, step-by-step fashion. In 1969, a year after the Cardiology Department was formalized, St. Mary’s began to offer open-heart surgery and implantation of temporary pacemakers.

1964- A Social Service Department was formalized, even though the hospital employed a social worker back in the 1920s.

1967- With the opening of a new wing, hospital staff began providing intensive care for medical and surgical patients, thanks to a state-of-the-art facility and coordination of staff who specialized in caring for critically ill patients.

1967- What’s now known as the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (or Recovery Room) was staffed by nurses who were dedicated to patient care during the hours right after surgery.

1968- The St. Mary’s 13-bed Infant Intensive Care Unit (IICU) was one of only two in the state, and the only one operating on a regional basis. A special nursery for premature babies had been staffed by specially trained perinatal nurses ever since 1951. Today, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) accommodates 38 babies.

1968- Surgical Day Care Center allowed patients to enter the hospital, have the surgery and return home all on one day. It was the first such program in the state. 

1968- Inhalation Therapy (now Respiratory Therapy) became a full-fledged department five years after the service was introduced at St. Mary’s—and in Madison—in 1963.

1968- The Psychiatric Day Care Center opened, also known as the STAR program (Significant Therapy About Relationships). Day long sessions of group therapy, recreational therapy and occupational therapy were offered on an outpatient basis for 29 years. The program ended in 1997.

1971- The Pediatrics Department opened a four-bed Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for children who had undergone serious surgeries or who were no longer eligible for the Infant Intensive Care Unit yet still needed the same level of care. Starting in 2012, the most critically ill of these children were transferred to American Family Children’s Hospital.

1971- The rapid expansion of technology led to the creation of the Clinical Engineering Department, providing on-site expertise in the use and maintenance of medical equipment. 

1973- The St. Mary’s Hospital Pastoral Care Department formalized to assist with the spiritual and psychological needs of hospitalized patients and their families.

1980- St. Mary’s began to accept helicopter transport patients. Early on, they were usually infants from around the state needing intensive care. Of course, the service extended to patients requiring emergency care as well.

1982- Neuroscience intensive care was established to serve patients who’ve experienced head and spine injuries or surgeries.

1983- Madison Emergency Physicians group began serving St. Mary’s emergency room, providing dedicated ER doctors who care solely for emergency patients. Ever since 1989, all have been board-certified in emergency medicine.

1992-The Department of Perinatology (now called Maternal-Fetal Medicine) opened at St. Mary’s Hospital. Jointly operated by the hospital and Dean Clinic, it provides assessment and management of high-risk pregnancies and offers prenatal diagnostic services.

2000- A dialysis unit opened, even though this service for kidney patients had been available since 1993. It quickly outgrew its space at the hospital and moved into its own off-site location in 2003. St. Mary’s Renal Center then opened as the city’s largest such facility, with 35 dialysis stations. 

2006- St. Mary’s became a Level One Heart Hospital, acknowledging new levels of tightly coordinated, fast, effective, specialized heart care. This recognition preceded the 2008 opening of the East Wing, which became home for a complete array of cardiac services, including the area’s largest facility for preventive cardiology and rehabilitation as well as multiple surgical suites and care units dedicated to heart patients.

2006- Hospitalist program began, offering ’round-the-clock Dean physician coverage and medical continuity for hospitalized patients while also freeing up primary care physicians to devote time to their clinic patients. 

2007- Dean & St. Mary’s Stroke Center became the first certified Primary Stroke Center in south-central Wisconsin. It is dedicated to improving clinical outcomes for patients receiving specialized stroke care.

2009- St. Mary’s Sun Prairie Emergency Center, a satellite department of the hospital, opened to care for the emergent needs of residents who live, work or play northeast of Madison.

2011- A hospital-wide Palliative Care Program began, helping patients to reduce suffering while achieving personal measures of quality of life. The teamwork among various health care professionals, patients and families focuses on the ability to live well, in spite of illness.



St. Mary's Hospital     700 South Park Street     Madison, WI 53715-0450     (608) 251-6100
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