Charity School of Nursing

RN History


Charity Hospital was founded in 1736 through the generosity of Jean Louis, a retired seaman who bequeathed his estate for the founding of a hospital for the poor.  The first hospital was known as St. John’s.  In 1813, the State of Louisiana assumed full responsibility for the hospital.  The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, at the request of the hospital Board of Administrators, arrived at the hospital in 1834.  They served courageously through epidemics, the Civil War and the reconstruction.  In the late 1800’s, philanthropists such as Isaac Delgado and John Dibert came to the aid of the hospital.  Certain areas of the present hospital have been dedicated to these benefactors. 

Through the cooperation of the Board of Administrators and the Daughters of Charity, the Charity Hospital School of Nursing was established in 1894.  The program was two years in length.  A graduate nurse from Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing, founded twenty-two years earlier was the first American School of Nursing patterned after Florence Nightingale’s school in London.  The Charity program based on the Bellevue model, taught sound principles of nursing practice. 

From its very beginning, Charity’s program was favorably received and the number of applicants far exceeded the School’s capacity.  In the first four years, 920 applications were received, of which 102 were accepted.

In 1913, the program was increased to two and one –half years in length and to three years in length in 1915.  The school then awarded a “Diploma in Nursing.”

The present School of Nursing building was completed in 1973.  It contains eight floors and covers an area of 20,000 square feet.  The facility contains classrooms, clinical skills labs, conference and meeting rooms, offices, a media center, a library, two fully furnished kitchens, and lounges. 

During World War II, the school participated in the Cadet Nurse Corps.  Its enrollment of 760 was one of the largest in the country.  Refresher courses were offered to inactive nurses to increase the workforce.

Cognizant of trends in education and society, the school admitted its first married student in 1964, the first African-American students in 1965, and the first male students in 1968.

In the 1970’s, the faculty considered the trends in nursing education and identified an additional mission:  the need to award college credit for nursing courses.  Students in the Diploma Program enrolled in selected courses at the University of New Orleans. 

In the late 1980’s, Delgado Community College was exploring the possibility of adding a nursing program to its offerings.  In 1990 a merger of the two institutions was completed.  A new curriculum was developed awarding the “Associate of Science Degree.”

The first class was admitted in January 1991 and graduated in December 1992.  As of May 2004, 2,368 students have graduated from the Associate Degree Program.  Since the inception of Charity Hospital School of Nursing in 1894 to the present day, approximately 8,641 students have become graduate nurses.