History & Ministry


To fully understand Saint Agnes Medical Center's mission, it is important to explain our beginnings. In 1841, Father Basil Moreau founded the Sisters of the Holy Cross in LeMans, France. Two years later, four sisters came to the United States to provide nursing and domestic services to the newly created College of Notre Dame (now Notre Dame University).

Over the years, the Sisters expanded their service into education and nursing - working in schools, orphanages and hospitals in several states. By the 1860s, 80 Sisters of the Holy Cross had served as nurses and administrators in six U.S. hospitals in Memphis, Tennessee; Louisville and Paducah, Kentucky; Saint Louis and Franklin, Missouri; Cairo and Mound City, Illinois; and Washington, D.C. Holy Cross Sisters also volunteered as the first Navy nurses during the Civil War, serving on the hospital ship, Red Rover. There they cared for up to 1,400 patients, including many prisoners of war.

The Sisters of the Holy Cross began work in Fresno, California, in 1894, with the opening of a boarding and day school for girls. In 1929, at the request of the local bishop, nine Holy Cross Sisters established the original Saint Agnes Hospital in downtown Fresno. The hospital actually opened one day earlier than planned to provide emergency surgery for a 3-year-old boy. From the very beginning, the medical staff was dedicated to providing the highest quality care for our patients. After less than three years of operations, Saint Agnes became the first Fresno hospital to be accredited by the American College of Surgeons.

Over the years there have been many firsts for Saint Agnes:

  • The original Saint Agnes Hospital built in 1929 in downtown Fresno
  • First hospital in Fresno to introduce balloon angioplasty
  • First hospital with a cardiac rehabilitation program
  • First hospital to perform minimally invasive cardiac surgery
  • First hospital to use interventional neuroradiology
  • First to bring PET scan technology to the Valley
  • First to use neuro navigation in brain surgery
  • First hospital on West Coast to use robotic surgery in a cardiac bypass operation
  • First to use IMRT radiation therapy for cancer treatment
  • First hospital to introduce TAVR procedures for heart patients
  • First hospital in the Central Valley to recieve a Baby-Friendly designation
  • First hospital to implement a PERT program

Remaining faithful to our mission, Saint Agnes Medical Center will continue to seek the latest advances in medical treatment and technology to accomplish our goal of building a healthier community.