Providence Hospital celebrates 75 years of ‘holistic health care’

Alongside a contingent of nuns from the same Catholic congregation that founded it, Providence Hospital celebrated 75 years of serving Columbia Sunday afternoon.

Seven Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine flew into South Carolina from Cleveland for the anniversary. They first were honored at a St. Peter’s Catholic Church Mass before the ceremony moved to the Providence campus.

With speakers from a 33-year Providence employee to a Catholic pastor, the common thread in each was the faith that is interwoven with traditional health care at Providence.

“It’s about keeping our mission alive and continuing to provide people with holistic health care,” said Joan Bumpus, vice president of missions and ministry at Providence. “It’s not just healing the body, because sometimes the body isn’t going to heal. It’s about healing the soul and the spirit and tapping into the patient’s sense of spirituality.”

That principle is what Providence Hospital was founded on 75 years ago when Columbia businessman James Younginer was so impressed with the Catholic health care his wife received while in California, he was inspired to bring it to the Midlands.

The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine brought their holistic health care, previously exclusive to Ohio, to South Carolina with the help of Younginer and his wife.

The Younginers’ grandson, Michael Younginer, was present at Sunday’s celebration, recalling memories of his grandparents’ stories about the hospital’s founding and the wonders of Catholic health care.

“There is such respect for a person’s spirit in the holistic healing the sisters provide to people in Columbia and throughout many ministries,” Younginer said.

The visiting sisters and the hospital were not only honored with words, but with gifts. State Reps. Joseph McEachern and Leon Howard, both D-Richland, presented the hospital with state House and Senate resolutions honoring Providence Hospital, while Younginer, Congregational Leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Sister Miriam Erb, Sisters of Charity Health System President and CEO Sister Judith Ann Karam and Providence Hospitals Board of Trustees Chairman Michael Kapp were given hand-carved crosses made from the wood of a recently deceased oak tree that had been on Providence Hospital’s campus decades before its founding.

A cross-section of the tree, called “The Guardian” by many at the hospital, was made into a timeline, marking Providence milestones on the tree’s inner rings, which indicate each year of growth.

Many looked at the anniversary not as an occasion on which to look back, but forward.

“Today, we recommit to ensure God’s divine providence is being fulfilled,” Karam said. “Seventy-five years have passed with people and communities healed. For the next chapter, the future will be different. We are on the precipice of new stories to be told, built on those 75 years of service.”

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