Sen. Vincent J. Fumo

District Office

1208 Tasker Street
Phila, PA 19148

Harrisburg Office

545 Main Capitol
Hbg, PA 17120



_____________________NEWS RELEASE

State Senator

1st Senatorial District
Room 545 Main Capitol, Harrisburg PA 17120
Internet Website:


PHONE: 717-787-5662 


     PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 9, 2007 -- State Senator Vince Fumo (D-Philadelphia) addressed the first graduation class of the new St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing in North Philadelphia today.

    After obtaining approval from the State Board of Nursing in 2006, the hospital reestablished its nursing school last fall. St. Joseph’s had previously operated a nursing school from 1894 until it terminated the program in 1977.

     Approximately six years ago, concerned with the general nursing shortage and with high cost of obtaining agency nurses, the hospital board, led by Judge Gene Maier, decided to re-open the nursing school. Fumo helped the hospital to secure several state grants from the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and Industry totaling almost $1.5 million. It was the first new nursing education program licensed in Philadelphia in several decades.

    St. Joseph’s Hospital has operated at 16th and Girard for more than 150 years. With its sister hospital, Girard Medical Center, it combined in 1990 to form the North Philadelphia Health System. Together the hospitals employ 1,500 and treat thousands of patients annually.

     The text of Senator Fumo's speech follows:


     Dean Tillman, Judge Maier, Chairman Sabatini, President Walmsley, Deputy Counsel Marks, graduates of the first class of the new St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing, family members and friends of the graduates, ladies and gentlemen: 

     It is a great privilege and a true pleasure to address the first graduating class of the new St. Joseph’s Hospital School of Nursing. 

     This is a proud moment for those of you who have worked so hard over the past year to earn your nursing diploma. It is also a satisfying time for the many people who have helped you along the way. That includes people in your younger life who may have advised or inspired you, the hospital and school staff who trained you, and the family members and others who supported you or assisted you in some way. I wish all of you a wonderful day as you share this celebration with those who played a role in your achievement. 

     While it is a rewarding day for you, it is likewise a significant day for this community and for all of Philadelphia. St. Josephs Hospital, and the nursing school that you helped to inaugurate when you enrolled last year, is a symbol of hope and renewal in our city. 

     Way back in 1894, when American cities were exciting and growing places where people came to fulfill their dreams and aspirations, this hospital began to train nurses. And it continued to do so for more than 80 years, until in 1977, it had to close its doors.  

     By that time, many America cities, not just Philadelphia, were in decline. Whole sections of cities fell into neglect. They sometimes contained pockets of great wealth, but they were often surrounded by areas of great misery.  

     And the fortunes of this hospital reflected that. It became a struggling facility in a struggling neighborhood, and eventually it was unable to sustain the nursing school that had operated here for so long. 

     But the people associated with this hospital, like the people in this community, were resilient. They were determined not to give up.  They realized that there was a need for good medical care here, and they understood that a corps of well-trained and dedicated nurses is crucial to providing good care.

     You might say they had a calling to serve this community. By your presence here today, by the profession that you have chosen, and by the determination you have shown in completing this program, I believe you have that same calling. 

     I know that many of you have not traveled a smooth road to reach this point on your journey of life. Most of you are not fresh out of high school, making an orderly transition to higher education. I suspect that most of you have hit some bumps and some potholes in your life before you reached this point. You’ve made some mistakes. Your life has been a mix of good luck and bad. I know mine has been.

     Like this community and like this hospital, you have probably had some struggles of your own. Well, I want to let you in on a secret, and I hope I don’t spoil your happy day, but guess what. 

     Life will always have its share of struggles. 

     There will be some bad things that will happen to you out in the world over the next few decades. To be sure, there will be many good things, too, and I hope the good things outnumber the bad, many times over. 

     But in everyone’s life, there is tragedy, there is sorrow, and there is bad luck, just as surely as there is glory, and joy, and good fortune. 

     The good news is: we have the power within ourselves to deal with it. What matters most is whether we approach our struggles with a spirit of optimism, or a spirit of despair. 

     When we approach life with optimism, with commitment, with a sense of purpose, we can overcome obstacles and make good things happen, for ourselves and for others. Just like the people – including you, the members of the first graduating class – who willed this nursing school back into existence. 

     I am sure that over the coming years, you will face adversity again. Nursing is a very rewarding profession, but it can also be a very difficult one. It requires dedication, and it requires stoicism. Just as you witness, and take part in, the wonders that medical science achieves in making patients well, you will also witness pain and heartbreak. 

     I hope you will remember, though, that the greater the obstacles you face, the greater the accomplishment when you overcome them. 

     The more difficulties you face in life, the greater your opportunity to do something really remarkable, really impressive. 

     Sometimes, the greater the adversity that you face, and the harder you have to work to beat the odds, then the stronger you are when you finally triumph. 

     I hope you will do what you can to instill that kind of faith in your patients in their times of trouble, but I also urge you to apply it to your own career and your own life. Great things are still possible, even when the outlook appears most bleak. 

     I ‘m sure all of you remember the late Robert Casey Sr., who was governor of Pennsylvania in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He is a man I knew well and worked with very closely in Harrisburg.  

     While he was governor, he did a lot of good things. He really tried to help those in society who needed help. It was one of the reasons he was in politics. He rose to become governor of Pennsylvania from rather humble beginnings. He grew up in Scranton, the son of a coal miner. 

     He earned a law degree, and after some early success in politics, he decided to run for governor. He lost. Then he ran a second time, and lost. He ran a third time. And lost again. 

     Everyone in Pennsylvania wrote him off. All of the experts said his political career was over. When he announced he was going to run for governor a fourth time, most people laughed at him. He didn’t care. He worked hard, he was determined, and this time, he won. 

     Because he did, he was able to help a lot of people and do a lot of good for Pennsylvania. 

     This nursing school is a product of similar determination. It is here today because there were people such as Judge Maier and others who didn’t care that some might be writing off this hospital or this community. 

     Now you have a chance to share in that mission. In the narrow sense, it is to care for the sick, to ease their pain, and to heal their illness. But in another sense, your mission is larger than that. You have a calling to carry on the spirit of hope and optimism that this hospital and this nursing school represents for this community.  

     By helping others fulfill that dream, you will help fulfill your own. 

     Follow your dreams. Please don’t be discouraged if they don’t come true right away, or if you encounter difficulties along your path. It’s going to take a lot of effort on your part. 

     Henry David Thoreau, the great American philosopher, spoke of that once. He wrote: 

     “If you have built your castles in the sky, your work need not be lost, that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” 

     This nursing school is like that castle in the sky. It represented a dream, and a lot of people worked very hard to put the foundation under it. 

     I’m very happy for you that you are part of that dream and part of that work. And I am proud that I was able to be a part of it with you today. 

     Congratulations on your achievements, and please accept my best wishes for a satisfying and successful career in nursing.

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