Saint Joseph Hospital, Denver’s oldest private teaching hospital, was founded in 1873 by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth. Over the years the Sister administrators, with the assistance and support of generous business executives, distinguished citizens of Denver and volunteers, worked diligently to raise funds for the support and growth of the hospital.

In 1977, the Hospital Board of Directors established the Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation and delegated to it the responsibility for resource development. The Foundation was incorporated in the State of Colorado, and the Articles of Incorporation state its purpose. Section 1 reads, in part: “To operate solely for charitable, scientific, and educational purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3) of the internal Revenue code… in that all of its activities and funds shall exclusively, directly or indirectly benefit Saint Joseph Hospital, Inc.”

The mission of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation is to solicit contributions for Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital to assist in effectively carrying out their mission…to foster health and healing for the people and communities we serve. Contributions are tax deductible as permitted by the law. (Tax ID # 84-0735096)

The Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation is governed by a board of directors comprised of community leaders. The Foundation is a tax-exempt, not-for-profit organization.

Programs supported by the Foundation include care of underserved individuals through the Caritas Community Clinic, Bruner Family Medicine Clinic and The Seton Women’s Center; education programs for physicians, nurses and allied health care workers; community health and wellness programs; and, capital projects.

Among the major capital projects for which the Foundation has raised funds are the following:

• Construction of the Radiology-Cardiovascular wing in 1980
• SurgiCare One, adding five additional operating rooms in 1989
• Remodel of critical care areas for Mother-Baby Unit in 1994
• Russell Pavilion Medical Education Center in 1996
• Expansion of SurgiCare One operating rooms in 1998
• Various exterior improvements, such as upgrading crosses, reflective garden and Holy Family Sculpture from 1999-2002
• Labor and Delivery expansion and renovation in 2002/2003
• Cardiovascular Lab replacement and remodeling in 2004/2005
• Relocation and expansion of the Certified Nurse Midwifery Practice 2007
• Relocation and expansion of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Health and Rehabilitation Center 2007/2008

Today, Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation is collaboratively working with Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital and The Saint Joseph Heritage Project in showcasing the building of the new state-of-the art hospital, while celebrating its past, present and future.  The project is the cornerstone of Saint Joseph Hospital Foundation’s opportunity to rebirth itself with new approaches, projects and opportunities for giving at every level.  The Heritage Project is taking the steps necessary to secure the future, asking the community it has served for over 139 years to embrace and support its future through philanthropic support.

All activities of the Foundation are directed toward developing charitable gifts and grants for Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital.  The Hospital and the Foundation enjoy wide support from the community they both serve. 


The Sisters of Charity trace their origin as a religious community to the 1600s in France where Vincent de Paul and Louise de Marillac established the Daughters of Charity. They were dedicated to serving the sick and poor through an active ministry.  This heritage and tradition serve as a foundation for their health ministry today.

In 1864, the Sisters of Charity opened the first private hospital in Kansas, with the first trained nurse in the state and surely the first woman in the Western territory to run a hospital. This woman, Sister Joanna Bruner, also taught nursing care to other sisters.

Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System (SCLHS) is a not-for-profit, faith-based health care system  that offers medical care for its citizens, regardless of their religion, social or financial status and without regard to race, color or creed.  Our four-state health system employs more than 15,000 associates working together to meet the challenges of a changing health care environment.


In 1873, while Denver was still struggling to become the Territorial Capital, Mother Xavier Ross of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, sent four Sisters to establish a hospital with nine dollars and the challenge: “Look forward to the good yet to be.” The Sisters opened their hospital in a cottage at Fourteenth and Arapahoe Street but soon moved to a brick building at Twenty-sixth and Holladay, later renamed Market Street.  During these early years, the Hospital was known as Saint Vincent’s. This was changed to Saint Joseph in 1876 when the Sisters began construction at Eighteenth and Humboldt Streets on land donated to them by territorial Governor William Gilpin. This site is directly adjacent to the Hospital’s present location.

Today, Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital is a 565-bed private, non-profit, regional medical center, providing acute care to more than 19,000 in-patients and 146,000 out-patients annually from Denver and throughout Colorado, as well as surrounding states. Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital is a premier health care facility governed by the Sisters of Charity Health System and managed by Exempla Healthcare, a not-for-profit, community-based organization fully accredited by The Joint Commission and licensed by the State of Colorado.