The Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart's roots date back to 1737 when Saint Marguerite d'Youville and her followers consecrated themselves to God and established the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity.
The Grey Nuns already had a presence in Plattsburgh when the thought of a community hospital first came into play. In 1860, the order opened d'Youville Academy, a training school for nuns.
"The Grey Nuns were ahead of their time," Kavanagh said. "They were wise, intelligent, resourceful, very hard-working and ethical women. They taught and trained us well for the present and the future.
"Those of us who are practicing today basically use many of the principles learned during those days."
Although run by Catholic leadership, Champlain Valley was a general hospital for the community and competed well against the independently run Physicians Hospital, initially created by a group of area physicians and then expanded through the philanthropy of William H. Miner.
In a 1915 news article from the Plattsburgh Daily Press, Champlain Valley Hospital had just moved ahead of Physicians in an ongoing public-popularity poll.
The hospital served its purpose well for five decades, but as medicine continued to develop into the 1960s, Champlain Valley began to experience financial difficulties. The building and its equipment were growing old and more costly to run, and the cost of health care itself was rising rapidly.
In July 1963, the Grey Nuns withdrew from Champlain Valley Hospital. The first private administrator for the hospital was Jerome Stewart.
Improvements were still being made, however. During September and October 1963, a remodeling program produced a recovery room, intensive-care unit and private and semi-private rooms. By February 1964, 137 beds, 24 bassinets and four labor rooms were available for patients.
Kavanagh had originally planned to be a secretary but turned to nursing when a friend praised the Nursing School at Champlain Valley.