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Founders’ Day

Each year, Summa Health invites visitors to experience the place that recognized and revolutionized the care and hospital treatment for alcoholism throughout the world.

Summa Health is dedicated to preserving the significant work and memory of Sister Ignatia. The Sister Ignatia Heritage Center, located in the St. Thomas Campus chapel, has been created to pay tribute to the history of Sister Ignatia and the treatment of alcoholics, and the relationship between Dr. Bob and the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Learn more about the history of St. Thomas, Sister Ignatia and Dr. Bob in the videos below.

St. Thomas Virtual Tour

Each year, thousands of people from around the world make the pilgrimage to Akron, Ohio to celebrate Founders’ Day. Founders’ Day has been an important part of the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. Its inception stems from June 10, 1935, the day Dr. Bob, co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, found sobriety.

We invite you to take a look at St. Thomas Hospital and the chapel in our virtual tour video.


History of Addiction Treatment at St. Thomas

In the 1930s, it was not an easy journey for Sister Ignatia and Dr. Bob to help alcoholics. Alcoholism wasn’t yet recognized as a disease, and those suffering from it were thought to lack will power or morals.

Sister Ignatia’s compassion, along with Dr. Bob’s fortitude, prompted the duo to admit a patient to St. Thomas who desperately needed help from his addiction to alcohol. On August 18, 1939, the first alcoholic patient, Walter B., was admitted by Sister Ignatia at the request of Dr. Bob, making St. Thomas the first hospital in the world to treat alcoholism as a medical condition.

That same month, Alcoholics Anonymous is published, providing a name and a written set of standards – the Twelve Steps – to the organization. This was the beginning of the alcoholism treatment ward at St. Thomas Hospital.

From just that first patient, and first ward, AA now exists in 180 nations with the literature translated into 100 languages. As of 2020, there are more than two million members with 125,557 groups.

Summa Health is proud to be a part of the rich history of Alcoholics Anonymous. We invite you to learn more about the history of St. Thomas, its role in Alcoholics Anonymous, and its trailblazing caregivers.

Founders’ Day History Video


Bill Discusses the 12 Traditions



Sister Ignatia spoke about the beginnings providing alcoholic treatment at St. Thomas at the 25th Anniversary of Alcoholic Anonymous. Listen to her speech.

Learn the History of Ignatia Hall


To give a gift to the Ignatia Hall Fund and Addiction Medicine services at Summa Health, click here.

The Future of Summa Health Behavioral Health Services

As part of Summa Health’s Phase 2 of its long-term master facility plan, a new 60-bed inpatient and outpatient Behavioral Health pavilion will be constructed on the Akron campus. This state-of-the-art space will serve as a home for all levels of behavioral health care, allowing Summa Health to facilitate comprehensive care for our patients and close any potential gaps in the coverage that we may have. Part of these plans include a space to preserve the history that is now housed in the chapel at St. Thomas.

Learn More about the New Behavioral Pavilion


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