Legacy of Caring
Providing eastern Iowans with caring and effective healthcare for more than 125 years. By 1884, Cedar Rapids had streetcars, telephone service and electricity, but no hospital. That changed on May 7, 1884, with the laying of the cornerstone for a community hospital still known today - more than 130 years later -- as St. Luke's.
Curiously, St. Luke's tradition of caring is rooted in the needs of a blind child and the lessons learned from a homeless man. In 1874, after a blind child was abandoned on a local doorstep, a stunned community responded with a charity ball. The funds raised provided rent for a house that met not only the child's needs but served as a makeshift hospital staffed by volunteer nurses. That project lasted only three years.
Seven years later, the dying words of a homeless man who was critically injured while hopping a freight train in Cedar Rapids inspired a local Episcopal minister. The following Sunday, the Rev. Samuel Ringgold made an impassioned plea from the pulpit for a hospital, "a real hospital, so that citizens and strangers alike can be cared for." The next day, he and his flock began soliciting donations for the hospital. Within months, work began on St. Luke's. Like Cedar Rapids itself, St. Luke's has been a work in progress ever since.
In 2009, St. Luke's Hospital marked a major milestone - 125 years of caring for eastern Iowans. The hospital's original cornerstone was placed in 1884 - making St. Luke's Cedar Rapids' first hospital. The original cornerstone remains today in the hospital chapel, but the face of St. Luke's is dramatically different than its humble beginnings.
According to historical records, the original St. Luke's hospital had the capacity for 15 beds. Today, St. Luke's is a fully accredited 540-bed hospital serving a seven-county area surrounding Cedar Rapids. St. Luke's offers a wide range of patient care services with strengths in heart care, obstetrics, newborn intensive care, pediatrics, physical medicine and rehabilitation, behavioral health, general surgery and emergency care.