On April 19, 1897, the 12-bed Springfield Hospital and Training School opened its doors in a converted private home at Fifth Street and North Grand Avenue. Now, 125 years later, the organization it became – Memorial Health – serves tens of thousands of patients across central and southern Illinois.
Today, the nonprofit health system launched a six-month celebration of its quasquicentennial, or its 125th anniversary. Activities planned during the next six months include placing time capsules on the five hospitals’ campuses, baskets for babies born at any Memorial Health hospital today (April 19), an animated historical timeline video on the Memorial Health website and then-and-now photos on the health system’s Facebook page. The observance will conclude with a to-be-announced Memorial Health Day in the fall.
“While our founders would probably be amazed by the technology and facilities we have available today, I think they would recognize in our colleagues the same spirit of compassion and commitment that they had 125 years ago,” said Ed Curtis, president and CEO of Memorial Health. “While much in health care has changed, we’ve stayed true to their mission and vision.”
Those founders were a small group of German Lutherans and members of the local medical community, united by their vision of establishing a new hospital to care for Springfield’s growing population. By the 1930s, the hospital’s needs began to outstrip the support available from local Lutheran congregations and it became a nondenominational institution with a board made up of members of the Springfield community.
Over the decades, Springfield Hospital continued to grow and evolve to meet the needs of the people it served. It was renamed “Memorial Hospital” in 1943, when a 300-bed facility was constructed on the present site. That hospital, later known as Memorial Medical Center and now as Springfield Memorial Hospital, became the flagship institution of Memorial Health System, which was created in the mid-1990s to better serve patients amid a changing health care landscape.
Today, Memorial Health comprises five hospitals, a network of Memorial Care clinics, behavioral health services and home care. Nearly 10,000 employees across the region serve patients in a variety of settings, providing a full range of inpatient, outpatient and virtual care.