The History of Community Mercy Health Partners

The History of Community Mercy Health Partners

When Community Mercy Health Partners was officially formed July 1, 2004, it was one of the greatest examples of collaboration this community has ever seen.

But the roots of our organization go back more than a century …

Community Mercy Health Partners – today with more than 2,800 associates and a comprehensive network of facilities and health care services – traces its beginnings to a 15-bed hospital staffed by four nurses on Springfield’s East Main Street.

Photos in this history are taken from artifacts of CMHP and the Heritage Wall on the Garden Level at Springfield Regional Medical Center. 

The Mitchell-Thomas Hospital was built in 1887 for $6,000 on a $14,000 parcel of land. It was a gift to Springfield by its namesakes, Ross Mitchell and John H. Thomas. They were central figures in the growing agricultural equipment industry that made Springfield a prosperous town around the Civil War. Yet, Springfield lacked a hospital, so they used their good fortune to make a difference.

From this time on, the health care history of our region has been one of progress … a continuing commitment to work together to provide the best and latest in health care.

On December 19, 1904, The Mitchell-Thomas Hospital’s 18 patients were moved to the new Springfield City Hospital on Selma Road. This new facility was made possible by a $100,000 bequest from John Snyder, philanthropist and Springfield’s first resident.

This hospital housed the Springfield Nurses’ Training School. The Community Hospital School of Nursing was in existence for more than 100 years and graduated more than 2,500 nurses!

In 1932, Springfield had a new City Hospital. Sixty-five percent of Springfield’s voters approved a $1.8 million bond issue to build the modern facility. Community Hospital, was dedicated as a “tower of strength and hope by day, crowned by a beacon of light by night….”

By the end of the ’30s, Springfield again found itself in need of more hospital beds. This time, the Religious Sisters of Mercy entered the picture. 

They were already operating several hospitals in Ohio, and saw a new opportunity to serve and continue the legacy of Catherine McAuley, who in 1827 built the first House of Mercy to care for the poor, uneducated and sick of Dublin, Ireland.

The Sisters in 1940 bought the former Knights of Pythias orphanage and its 36 acres of land on Springfield’s northwest outskirts. Their aim: to open a nursing home and build a new hospital beside it.

The  Sisters’ plans in Springfield, however, had to wait. The federal government needed the former orphanage to house 200 women defense workers during World War II.

When the war ended, the Sisters of Mercy converted the building to become the Mercycrest Home for the Aged. And they began plans to build Mercy Hospital next door. 

Citizens of Clark County welcomed the Sisters and enthusiastically supported a fund drive chaired by Joseph C. Shouvlin, CEO of Bauer Brothers, one of the city’s largest employers at the time.

The campaign reached its $1 million goal in four months – and kept on climbing to $1.7 million! In a fund-raising letter, Mr. Shouvlin wrote: “Springfield and Clark County owe a deep debt of gratitude to the Sisters of Mercy for the undertaking of this great humanitarian project…. We must remember that the Sisters of Mercy have had the Vision to plan, the courage to Undertake and the Devotion to Complete Mercy Hospital. We citizens can do no less than aid the Sisters with our financial support.”

Even the executive director and board chairman of the 270-bed Springfield City Hospital sent a letter of support after the proposed size of Mercy Hospital was increased from 200 to 319 beds. They wrote, “Your vision in increasing the size of Mercy Hospital … assures the area to be serviced with adequate Hospital facilities for all of our citizens.”

In 1950 the "New" Mercy Hospital The hospital was dedicated with the motto “Excellent Service for the Love of God and Mankind”.

The year after Mercy Hospital opened, the Sisters further extended their health care ministry with the opening of Mercy Memorial Hospital, a 50-bed facility in Urbana. As had happened in Springfield, community leaders partnered with the Sisters to raise funds for construction.
In the meantime, Springfield’s two hospitals continued advancing. In 1966, they went before voters together requesting a $6 million bond issue to build major additions. They won solid support.

City Hospital – renamed The Community Hospital in 1966 after changing from a city-controlled institution to a privately-owned, not-for-profit corporation – built its east wing, completed in 1971. Doctor, nurse, mom and baby at the birthing center at Community Hospital. 

At Mercy – incorporated as Mercy Medical Center in 1970 – construction included the Clark County Mental Health Center … and a three-story addition to the front of the hospital. In the same year, Mercy introduced radiation therapy for local cancer patients.

In 1967, the year after the bond issue, The Community Hospital and Mercy gained attention for a progressive effort to reduce health care costs and duplication of services. They agreed to consolidate all maternity services at Community and all pediatric services at Mercy.
In 1976, Springfield’s hospitals developed a joint plan for long-range health needs of the Mercy Siena Gardens Long Term Care facility. community. This resulted in $48 million in expansion projects at both hospitals.

Built on the former site of the Mercycrest Home for the Aged, St. John’s Center nursing home opened in 1976.  

Oakwood Village brought additional retirement living to Springfield in 1984 with independent living apartments and nursing home and assisted living facilities. Oakwood now also offers assisted living apartments and cottages for retirees.

In Urbana, McAuley Center nursing home opened in 1985, connected to Mercy Memorial Hospital. A 29-bed dementia unit was later added.

To control health care costs and promote convenience for patients, CMHP has developed a wide variety of home health and outpatient services ... such as home health care, hospice, and home medical equipment.

In 1983, Mercy started an outpatient chemical dependency program for adults and adolescents, now known as Community Mercy REACH. Other outpatient services have included urgent care, occupational health, women’s health services, rehabilitation programs, imaging services, Excel Sports Medicine … and more.

Over the years, our hospitals have brought state-of-the-art health care technology and clinical services to the community. Our hospitals have collaborated on a variety of occasions to advance the level of health care in the community. They supported creation of the Rocking Horse Center pediatric clinic, which opened in 1999 in Springfield.

And by working together they accomplished something they could not have done separately … build the Springfield Regional Cancer Center. It opened in August of 2004, offering local Springfield Regional Cancer Center residents the latest advances in cancer treatment. 
On July 1, 2004 -- in their most significant act of collaboration -- Community Hospital and Mercy Health Partners completed two years of careful planning and negotiation to consolidate into one organization … Community Mercy Health Partners.

Community leaders welcomed the consolidation….

Matt Kridler, Springfield’s City Manager, said … “With the combination of the strengths of both hospitals, it can only get better.”

U.S. Representative Dave Hobson said … “I think this is a great step forward for Springfield. It’s going to make for better health care.” 

With the new organization came a shared vision as a comprehensive, integrated regional healthcare system, renowned for our quality, innovation, compassionate service and culture. We also share the core values of compassion, excellence, human dignity, justice, sacredness of life, and service.
Since we came together, CMHP has collaborated with city, county, state and federal leaders on the vision for an exciting new healthcare solution for our community. In May of 2006, Community Mercy Health Partners and the City of Springfield signed a development agreement to build a state-of-the-art hospital and other facilities on a downtown site adjacent to the cancer center and Springfield Regional Medical Center was built.

Together we will continue building upon the legacies of those who have gone before us … and begin a new, promising era of health care for our region.