History of Clay County Hospital

CCH 1st Hospital_crop

May 1, 1924 Dr. George W. Campbell announces the opening of the FLORA HOSPITAL. The building was built in 1877 and was located on North Main and Tenth Street, Dr. Campbell, serving both as physician and surgeon, moved to Flora from Gary, Indiana. He selected Flora as he believed the city has a bright future. The Doctor occupied the upstairs suite of the P.A. Meyer building, most recently used as the living rooms by J.A. Mann and wife. The hospital included a surgery room, bath room, a private office and 2 hospital rooms. Within the first week of operation, Dr. Campbell purchased an X-ray machine from St. Louis. X-ray pictures were taken for the first time in Flora, IL. He also performed an operation for appendicitis on Virgil Lucas, treated Mrs. L.M. Coburn of Cisne and delivered a baby boy to Mr. and Mrs. Orville Logan. 1500 people attended the grand opening.

May 5, 1931 With the Hospital being closed for several months, Dr. Campbell then moved his practice down town and disposed his entire interest in the Hospital to Dr. Harvey D. Fehrenbacher of Olney. Dr. Fehrenbacher had been with the Olney Sanitarium for 13 years before coming to Flora. After extensive remodeling, the Flora Hospital was re-opened formally on June 21, 1931 with an 18 bed capacity and its own kitchen and laundry facilities. Mrs. Fehrenbacher helped with the management of the hospital. Some of the nurses who had worked with Dr. Fehrenbacher in Olney came to work at the Flora Hospital. Those included: Mrs. Elva Cusick, Mrs. Lucille Bay and Mrs. Norman Bryden. Dr. Howard Dillman joined the staff in 1937 after practicing in Louisville. During World War II, Dr. Dillman was called into the service and hospital help became almost impossible to find. From that point on the hospital suffered difficult times, some considered its last year of actual operation to be 1936. This facility closed permanently in August 1943. In June of 1979, this two story white house which housed the pre-world war II hospital facilities for Clay County was torn down.

CCH Second HospitalIn 1947 the Public Health in Illinois received an appropriation of $6.7 Million to build and operate tuberculosis sanatoria. After a survey by the Department to determine areas of the state with hospital needs, communities identified were eligible for federal and state grants equal to two-thirds of hospital construction costs. The first to start construction was Clay County Hospital, with the ground breaking being held on Friday, June 11, 1948 in the area of East 7th and Mill Streets. Before the hospital was completed in 1950, there was a serious money shortage in 1949. Flora, true to the tradition of her illustrious history, led a county wide campaign to raise the funds necessary to save the hospital. A huge crowd, estimated at 10,000 attended the dedication of the new Hospital on March 12, 1950.

The ultra-modern facility was fire-proof and modern in every respect. It was built with two isolation rooms, 16 obstetrical beds, 24 medical and surgical rooms and two 4-bed wards. The patients were all on a single floor with the obstetrical patients segregated. The doors to the Hospital were scheduled to accept patients on March 20, 1950, however, the opening had to be moved up several hours. The “stork” arrived with a package, later named William George Seelman, to a hastily gathered staff headed by Dr. E.D. Foss.

The hospital was replaced because it was a 1950’s building that was outdated and had several mechanical issues. It was not a good setting as far as easily accessible and limited areas to expand for the increasing amount of outpatient business. There were more reasons than you can imagine. We sold the building to 4 investors who had planned to use it and they are the ones who tore it down a few years after we were already moved in the new building. It did contain asbestos, but I do not know if it was the deciding factor in them having it demolished. – Carletta Noll

The first hospital administrator was Mary Vesta Sours, followed by Dr. T.L McCullough, and then Violet Medley. The staff of the hospital upon opening were Mary Vesta Sours, administrator; Myrtle Burgner, director of nursing service; Helen Spicer, Secretary; Edith Driscoll, admitting officer; Roxie Howard, bookkeeper; Ida Turnbull, medical librarian; Nancy Corzine, dietician; James Winter, laboratory and x-ray technician; Elman Beck, engineer; Erba Friend, night supervisor; Clarence Burten, issuing and receiving; Donna Harding, O.R. Supervisor; Catherine Hohlbauch, O.B. supervisor; Nellie Cribb, central supply; Roswell Beck, laundry manager; W.C. Stahl, M.D., director laboratory.

The hospital staff in the early 1960’s consisted of: Dr. Bunnell, Dr. Dillman, Dr. Naney, Dr. Foss, Dr. Hutchens, Dr. Phillips and Dr. Doherty. They were joined by a surgeon, Bill Kamp.

Worthy of mention:

Dr. Howard B. Dillman served for 40 years, both as a physician, presided over the birth of thousands of babies in the community and Chief of Staff for Clay County Hospital. Illness forced his retirement in April 1965.

A big celebration was held to celebrate the Hospital’s 20th Anniversary in 1970. By 1980 all were gone except Dr. Bunnell, Dr. Naney, and Dr. Cycholl. On August 1, 1981 Dr. Galen Lueking and Dr. Mitch Kraynak began Clay County Hospital emergency room “on-call” duty.

CCH Current Hospital

In 1992, planning began for building a replacement facility. Ground breaking for the new hospital was held on March 17, 1998, followed by a flurry of bond sales. Construction began on the building in June of 1998. On October 22, 2000 an open house was held to show off the new 45,000 square foot facility to an estimated 1000 visitors. Clay County Hospital President, Tony Schwarm, stated that the standards for hospital care have changed. Schwarm said the community had looked at remodeling the current facility, but the cost would have matched the amount of building the new hospital. Schwarm added he felt fortunate the county board and community have stood behind the project. He said “It’s a huge investment”. It’s very exciting said CCH Chief Operating Officer Susan Batchelor, MSN. RN. “The hard part for me is the wait”.

The official opening was on February 21, 2000. The hospital, managed under the direction of BJC Health System, helped design the facility to be flexible and to meet the needs of healthcare today and, more importantly, in the future. Now managed by SSM Health, the hospital continues to grow in the numbers of services and patients cared for under the leadership of President Amanda Basso.