Making ends meet in the health care system is not a new problem. It was a way of life for the Sisters of Providence, a handful of resourceful Catholic nuns who, in 1912, opened Sacred Heart Hospital in Medford, Oregon.

The sisters cared for 300 patients that first year, fed 48 boarders daily and gave 350 meals to the poor. But Sister Claire d'Assisa wrote, "Our confidence in Divine Providence was put to the test because we were not even assured the money for our daily bread."

Providence did provide. Townspeople sent produce from their gardens. A farmer donated two cows. Sisters were offered peaches to pick from an orchard 15 miles from town. Dr. Conroy gave the sisters a horse, too old to pull the doctor's buggy but able to pull the hospital's one-seat carriage to town. And so, they managed.

Providence again smiled on the sisters when a 1960 decision to close the hospital was reversed. A gift of land led to the construction of a new building and the renamed Providence Hospital opened in 1966. The sisters' dedication to service is carried on today by Providence Medford Medical Center, one of 19 hospitals in the Providence Health System, a not-for-profit network that extends from Alaska to California.

Source: Atwood, Kay, An Honorable History - 133 Years of Medical Practice in Jackson County, Oregon, Jackson County Medical Society, Medford, OR, 1985, pp. 57-58, 110-11.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at