Over a century ago, the only public hospital within a 100-mile area between
Jacksonville and Daytona Beach was Alicia Hospital, located on Tremerton
Street in downtown St. Augustine. At the time, this was the southern end
of the city limits. The founding of Alicia Hospital culminated a campaign
begun by Industrialist Henry M. Flagler.
Henry Flagler wanted to establish a hospital in the city of his new residence,
and enlisted the aid of many of the town's influential ladies, including
winter residents. Challenging them with a proposal they could scarcely
refuse, Flagler assembled the ladies in the rotunda of his opulent Ponce
de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) on May 22, 1888. He proposed a plan
to provide a hospital for the community if they would form an organization
to maintain the facility. The women accepted the challenge and immediately
went to work planning fund-raising events and soliciting contributions.
The new not-for-profit institution opened on March 1, 1890.
Through the years, the hospital experienced many changes, including being
renamed "Flagler Hospital" in 1905 to honor its original founder.
Fire destroyed most of the buildings in 1916. Temporary quarters for Flagler
Hospital patients were found in local residences while plans proceeded
for the design of a "new" structure that would adequately meet
the health care needs of the growing community.
With a generous donation from Mary Lily Kenan Flagler, third wife of the
late Henry Flagler, an elegant three-story brick and concrete building
with a stucco finish was built. The dedication exercise and open house
on January 5, 1921, attracted over 2000 people.
During the 1930s, the Flagler Hospital maintained a consistent patient
load of 60 to 70 admissions per month with about half that number occupying
beds at the end of the month. In 1932 the nurse's training school,
which had begun in 1913, closed due to new state laws requiring training
schools to be affiliated with more than one hospital.
The year 1943 saw the number of patients cared for skyrocket to almost
200 per month with the birth rate running close to 40 per month. A serious
problem in rising hospital costs was addressed in 1946. Food, cost of
cotton and X-ray film had increased dramatically. Dr. Vernon A. Lockwood,
chief surgeon, suggested that the charge for private rooms be increased
by $1.00 daily and that nursery charges be raised from $1.50 and $2.25
daily to $1.50 and $4.50. The 10-day maternity fee was suggested at $100.00
for private rooms and $70.00 for ward beds. Operating room costs jumped
to $20.00 for major operations and $10.00 for minor. Meanwhile, the Ancient
City was continuing to grow. The population of St. Augustine had reached 13,555.
The decade of the fifties dawned brightly with great promise for the future
of health care in the growing city. Flagler Hospital trustees, realizing
the need to increase medical facilities in the community, began by remodeling
the south wing of the hospital, adding a clinic and office space for doctors.
New facilities opened with a modern laboratory and complete physiotherapy
and hydrotherapy rooms. With the announcement of the Florida East Coast
(Railroad) Hospital closing its doors, Flagler began planning to meet
yet another level of demand from the community it served. The East Coast
Hospital remained open until September 1963, which gave Flagler time to
complete the construction of a west wing and the renovation of the entire
During the 1970s, Flagler Hospital was attracting new physicians in diverse
medical specialties. The hospital constructed a spacious new medical annex
known as the Anderson-Gibbs Building to offer these physicians a place
to practice. Also during the 1970s, Flagler Hospital expanded its operating
room facilities, and opened the area's first hospital-based psychiatric services.
In 1979, the trustees made a commitment to increased development of care
for cardiac patients. The need for new services such as echocardiograms
and cardiac stress tests was followed by the need for specific pulmonary
The 1980s spelled a time of optimistic but cautious consideration and planning
of health care in St. Augustine. County population now surpassed 50,000.
Community growth was creating an access problem for patients and their
families coming to Flagler Hospital on Marine Street. Also, the growth
in demand for health care services required a much larger facility.
In 1989, Flagler Hospital was moved from the Marine St. location, expanding
to a new 75-acre Health Park located at U.S. Highway 1. Along with increased
square footage for patient care came many new and expanded departments
of medicine, including The Cancer Center, The Heart Center, The Imaging
Center, The Spine Center, The Women's Health Center and The Bariatric
Since then, Flagler Hospital has continued to see tremendous growth, not
only in its number of beds (currently 335) or locations, (the hospital
operates 3 satellite clinics) but in areas of technology used in every
aspect of the hospital. In 2005, Flagler jumped ahead of the majority
of U.S. hospitals when it replaced patient charts with Internet-ready
laptops. Electronic Medical Records facilitate increased efficiency, improved
documentation, quality of care, security and reduced documentation expenses.
Today, Flagler is moving even further toward a completely paperless environment
with an ultimate goal of developing a completely electronic community
Flagler is committed to providing the best patient experience with the
best staff. As part of this, Flagler offers the highest degree of technology
to improve care and provide the best treatment. These include fully-digital
operating rooms, digital mammography machines, advanced robotic pharmacy
technology, a state-of-the art neonatal intensive care unit and - in partnership
with Florida Radiation Oncology Group - one of the world's most advanced
Adaptive Radiation Therapy delivery systems available for the treatment
In recent years, Flagler Hospital has also been recognized for leading
the way in patient safety and clinical outcomes, earning recognition from
numerous accrediting bodies including: Primary Stroke Care Center Designation
by the Joint Commission, ASMBS Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence
designation, Joint Commission Accreditation for Hip & Knee Replacement
Surgery, Magnet Designation by the ANCC, Accreditation by the Commission
on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons, American Academy of Sleep
Medicine Accreditation, and Certification by the American Association
of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.
With nearly 125 years of history in St. Johns County, Flagler Hospital
is proud to be the community's health care partner - and pleased to
provide world-class care, right here, close to home.