Dempsey, Mary Joseph, Sister

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Hospital superintendent; b. Salamanca, N.Y., May 14, 1856; d. Rochester, Minn., March 29, 1939. During childhood she moved to Rochester, Minn., where she entered the Third Order Regular of St. Francis of the Congregation of Our Lady of Lourdes in 1878, one year after its foundation. She was teaching in a parochial school in Ohio in 1889 when St. Mary's Hospital was opened in Rochester by Mother Alfred. Sister Mary Joseph was assigned to the new hospital, and was soon made head nurse. In 1892 she was appointed superintendent, a position she held until her death. Under her direction, the institution grew, through a series of six additions, into a modern 600-bed hospital. This expansion was a result not only of her leadership, but of the efforts of Drs. William W., Charles H., and William J. Mayo, who directed its staff and later organized the Mayo Clinic. From 1890 to 1915, Sister Mary Joseph, in addition to directing the hospital's operations, served as first surgical assistant to Dr. W. J. Mayo. She founded (1906) St. Mary's School of Nursing. In 1915 she participated in the organization of the Catholic Hospital Association of the U.S. and Canada, serving as its first vice president. Although her activities were chiefly confined to St. Mary's, her reputation in medicine was international.

Bibliography: h. clapesattle, The Doctors Mayo (Minneapolis 1941).

[m. b. cassidy]