In 1904 the members of the Woman’s Home Missionary Society (WHMS) of the Colorado Springs First Methodist Episcopal Church and a large group of women and men in the Colorado Springs community were concerned about the urgent need for a Protestant hospital and a nurses training school in the city. The Colorado Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church officially joined in the effort to establish the hospital. The former Belleview Sanitorium was purchased and Colorado Conference Deaconess Hospital and Training School of the Methodist Episcopal Church AKA “Deaconess Hospital” or “Protestant Hospital” was established in the large three-story wooden building that was located on top of the hill at South Institute Street and East Colorado Avenue. The hospital was administered and staffed by nurses and trainee nurses. Physicians in the city were invited to join the Medical Staff. By 1905 citizens and doctors were seeking a safer and more convenient location.
Beth-El Hospital and Training School was built at 1400 E. Boulder Street. The new building was renamed Beth-El, a Hebrew word meaning “House of God”. The three-story all brick building was built on level ground and featured a prized elevator. In 1911 financing had been difficult but the dedicated citizens and benefactors of the region eventually had raised the funds.
The Observation Hospital AKA “Contagion”, located at 427 N. Foote Ave was owned by the City/County and staffed by Beth-El students. The building opened with the first Colorado Springs patients of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic.
In 1922 The National Board of Hospital and Homes of the Methodist Episcopal Church assumed ownership of the hospital and made plans to build the National Methodist Episcopal Sanatorium for Tuberculosis that opened in 1926. The hospital name was elevated to Beth-El General Hospital and School of Nursing.
In 1943 the city of Colorado Springs City Council voted to buy the hospital to maintain the community’s dedication to providing comprehensive health care. The name was changed to Memorial Hospital and Beth-El School of Nursing of Colorado Springs in honor of the men and women killed in World War II. A referendum held in 1949 reaffirmed city ownership of the hospital. Our first Colorado Springs black student, Alice McAdams Morgan was admitted to Beth-El in 1949. The first two men graduated in 1966. A second city referendum in 1971 validated the citizens desire to continue city ownership of the nursing school its self.
Memorial Hospital and Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Science. As National nursing education qualifications evolved, Beth-El became a College of Nursing in 1985.
The city voters gave permission for Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences to merge with University of Colorado Colorado Springs and relocate to the UCCS campus in 1997. A citizen vote in 2012 leased Memorial Hospital to the University of Colorado Health System for 40 years and it was renamed UCHealth Memorial Hospital. The Colorado Springs Health Foundation was formed to grant money received from hospital revenue to public health initiatives across El Paso and Teller Counties.
In 2015 Beth-El College of Nursing was renamed the Arthur E. and Helen Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences of University of Colorado Colorado Springs.
The citizens of Pikes Peak Region and the state of Colorado continue to be both benefactors and beneficiaries of the hospital and nursing school they founded in 1904.
Generously Submitted by Joanne F. Ruth, MSN, Beth-El Alumni Historian