St. Luke’s Training School for Nurses

Today starts National Nurses Week. To honor these indispensible people, let’s take a look at the first nurses’ school in Davenport:

When St. Lukes’s Hospital (now Genesis East) was first organized, it naturally had nurses on staff. But after only a short time it was decided there was a need for nurses who were more formally trained.  The resulting school, which opened in 1895, was called the ‘Davenport Training School for Nurses,’ so that if things did not work out as hoped, the failure wouldn’t be associated with the hospital.

As with all new thoughts and ideas, there were naysayers:

“One story was circulated about a woman who told her friends she could see no reason for such a school. Why she had taken care of more than ten persons herself–and they all died. What could anyone teach her about looking after the sick?” (The St. Luke’s Story, Mary Kay Phelan, p.13)

It is a good thing the majority of those who made the decisions did not feel the same way! The training school succeeded and in 1897, the name was changed to ‘St. Luke’s Training School’. The first class graduated in 1898, and for decades afterwards, the school turned out many fine nurses.

Due to the generosity of Col. and Mrs French, about eight years after the St. Luke’s Hospital moved to its Rusholm Street location, a new residence and school was built for the nurses by the hospital. The building was called French Hall.

After the building was no longer used for a residence for nurses, the Maternal Health Center, which later became the Edgerton Women’s Health Center, moved in. French Hall itself is gone, but the site is occupied by the Medic Emergency Medical SVVC.

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