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As Mercy Springfield Communities celebrates its 130th anniversary in Springfield, officials point to a number of milestones that illustrate dramatic growth and economic impact over the years.
The Springfield hospital opened in 1891 in an eight-room house that also housed the three women who were care providers from St. Louis-based Sisters of Mercy. Records show the sisters served 16 patients that year.
As need expanded, the hospital embarked on a trajectory of growth that continues to this day. In 1905, it expanded to a 40-bed hospital. By 1946, the sisters were treating more than 5,000 patients, so in 1952 an even larger hospital opened at the medical center’s current National Avenue and Cherokee Street location.
From there, the trajectory got steeper.
Additional hospitals were added in Lebanon, Mountain View, Aurora and Cassville. Today, there are more than 300 Mercy clinic and outpatient facilities, including specialty hospitals, such as the orthopedic and rehabilitation hospitals, at Evans Road and U.S. Highway 65, and Mercy Kids, on the main campus.
As the hospital grew, the need for more skilled employees grew. Mercy opened a School of Nursing in 1906 and had just five students. Today, the Mercy College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Southwest Baptist University counts about 700 students enrolled.
While there are roughly 9,000 employees locally who live, work and spend money in the area, the hospital’s projects also have pumped dollars into the region’s economy. Some of its most recent projects are the $110 million Mercy Heart Hospital Springfield; the $7.5 million Mercy Kids Emergency Room in Springfield; multispecialty clinics in Bolivar, $26.9 million, and Branson, $19 million; and a $5.8 million clinic on Republic Road.
Craig McCoy, president of Mercy Springfield Communities, gives credit to the system’s centralized planning and design construction team for keeping projects on course, while other team leaders focused on meeting the demands of the pandemic.
Mercy also attracts people to seek treatment in Springfield through its Medical Destinations program, which began in 2012 via an agreement with Walmart to provide the retailer’s employees with spine care. Employees could travel to Springfield or one of Walmart’s other Centers of Excellence for treatment at no cost to them.
The program, which now includes Lowe’s and other companies, brings people through the airport, staying in hotels and dining at restaurants.
In the community, Mercy gives back through charity care, supporting nonprofits, such as Isabel’s House and The Kitchen, and encouraging its employees to participate in such events as the United Way Day of Caring and the city’s recent Clean Green initiative.
“We’re making sure people have access to care in a variety of different ways so we can help our population get healthier,” McCoy says.
The first downtown Springfield branch for Arvest Bank opened; a longtime licensed massage therapist became a first-time business owner; and 7 Brew Coffee opened its fourth shop in Springfield.