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St. Jude patients Raul Antonio, Dakota, Jalise and Evan
|The statue of St. Jude at the hospital entrance
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital was dedicated on February 4, 1962, by Danny Thomas, who unveiled a statue of St. Jude Thaddeus at the entrance. He told the crowd, “To those of you who are Catholic, this is a symbol of our faith in St. Jude as the patron saint of hopeless causes and our dedication of this hospital as a shrine fulfilling a promise made to him.” He paused, then continued, “To all of you who are of different beliefs, it’s still a pretty nice statue.”
|The significance of St. Jude research
In 1962, the survival rate for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common form of childhood cancer, was 4 percent. Today, the survival rate for this once deadly disease is 94 percent, thanks to research and treatment protocols developed at St. Jude.
|The St. Jude teen formal
Each spring, St. Jude organizes a teen formal for patients 13 to 19 years old, who might otherwise miss their high-school prom. Gowns and tuxedoes are donated for patients, and local stylists volunteer their time to do makeup, hair and manicures for the patients.
|First completely integrated hospital
From the start, St. Jude was the first completely integrated hospital in the South—a condition demanded by Danny Thomas and other early founders. Though this may not seem shocking today, having black doctors treat white patients, or even putting white and black patients in the same waiting rooms, was unheard of in the South in the early 1960s.
|The St. Jude school
So that patients don’t miss out on their schoolwork, St. Jude has its own classrooms and teachers who work with patients’ teachers back home to keep them up to date on their education. The hospital even holds graduations for kindergarten and high-school students, so that patients won’t miss out on these important milestones in their lives.
|The first year
When the hospital first opened in 1962, the staff totaled close to 100, and only 126 patients were treated that first year. Today, St. Jude treats 7,800 patients yearly and employs more than 3,700 staff members.
|Target House and Memphis Grizzlies House
In the early days, St. Jude arranged for patients’ families to stay at a hotel in downtown Memphis. Today, families have three modern facilities available to them: the Memphis Grizzlies House for short-term stays of one to seven days, the Ronald McDonald House for mid-term lodging of eight to 90 days and the Target House for long-term stays of more than 90 days. Ever since our founding, no family has ever paid St. Jude for anything and housing, food and transportation costs are all provided for free.
Expansions over the years have greatly enlarged the size of the original St. Jude campus. The hospital now occupies more than 2.5 million square feet of research, clinical and administrative space—the equivalent of 53 football fields.
Despite the sprawling campus, St. Jude has only one cafeteria. That was a deliberate design request from Danny Thomas, who felt the dining hall should be the heart of the hospital, where the entire St. Jude community could meet and interact.
|The St. Jude garden
St. Jude has its own garden that produces fresh produce and herbs. This saves on food costs and shortens the time between harvesting and processing, keeping the food’s nutritional value high and providing healthier fare for the staff, patients and families.