The evolution of Springfield’s hospitals began with the dedication of a 15-bed Mitchell-Thomas Hospital at East Main Street and the Big Four Railroad in 1887 and the dedication of the replacement City Hospital on June 27, 1903. The latter was constructed at the corner of Selma Road and East Street, where over 2,000 bowed their heads in prayer at the cornerstone laying ceremony. Oliver S. Kelly quipped that “in behalf of sick and suffering humanity, I lay the cornerstone of this hospital.” The profane nature of the comments left spectators were left speechless and were visible moved.
Voters in 1928 voiced their desires for a larger and more modern facility with a 65% majority to issue $1.8 million in bonds. But on July 6, 1929, a committee of the Clark County Medical Association filed a lawsuit in the Clark County Common Pleas Court, stating that the Hospital Common that desired a hospital at Main Street and Burnett Road had no legal authority to do so. That decision, they noted, should be left up to the City Commission and mayor. The Association also argued that the location was “unaccessible, uneconomical, unsanitary and not fitted to meet hospitalization needs,” and that the railroad tracks and the traffic signals in the area would slow ambulances.
A judge ruled in the Association’s favor in January 1930 and the city did not appeal. The Retail Merchants’ Association pressured the city to move on with the hospital plans, especially as the economy was souring at the heels of the Great Depression, and proposals for a hospital were sought by mid-February. On March 3, the commission chose the southeast corner of High Street and Burnett Road. The new City Hospital opened in 1932.
In 1966, City Hospital was renamed The Community Hospital after changing from a city-controlled facility to a not-for-profit that was privately owned. It was in that year that the hospital – along with Mercy Hospital, requested a $6 million bond issue to construct additions. The measure passed, and the east wing of Community Hospital was completed in 1971. A year after the renaming, Community and Mercy attempted to reduce healthcare costs and duplication of services, agreeing to consolidate all maternity services at Community and pediatric services at Mercy.
Another expansion occurred in the late 1970s after a joint plan for long-range health needs of Springfield was developed between the two hospitals. The 1976 plan called for expansion of the existing facilities to introduce new services and procedures and to construct new patient rooms. The end result was a $48 million expansion project at both hospitals. The partnership between the two hospitals was solidified even further when Community Hospital and Mercy Health Partners completed two years of planning and negotiations to merge into one organization: Community Mercy Health Partners, a deal that was finished on July 1, 2004.
In May 2006, Community Mercy Health Partners signed a development agreement with the city to construct a new hospital in downtown adjacent to the cancer center. The new Springfield Regional Medical Center opened on November 13, 2011. An auction of the interior contents of the City Hospital was held from April 17 to April 20, 2012.
The Community Hospital School of Nursing, later known as Springfield Regional School of Nursing, was an affiliate of Community Mercy Health Pertners, which offered a Diploma in Registered Nursing. Started in 1904, the school received the National League for Nursing Accreditation in 1953 and students began receiving college credits from a regionally accreddited cooperating university in 1970. Thirty years later, Urbana University offered general education courses on the School of Nursing’s campus.
On June 30, 2012, the Springfield Regional School of Nursing closed and the RN program was merged to Clark State Community College in Springfield. The last class to graduate was on May 8.
For more photographs, visit the Springfield City Hospital page after the jump »