A hospital is more than a place where people go to heal….it is a part of the community that fosters health and represents hope. From providing treatment and comfort to the sick, hospitals are central to a healthy and viable community. “National Hospital Week, first and foremost, is a celebration of people,” Ed Hannon, Chief Executive Officer of Bates County Memorial Hospital, said. “We’re extremely proud of each member of our staff and we recognize the important role they play in extending a sense of trust to our patients and our communities.”
National Hospital Week dates back to 1921 when it was suggested by a magazine editor who hoped a community wide celebration would alleviate public fears about hospitals. The celebration, launched in Chicago, succeeded in promoting trust and goodwill among members of the public and eventually spread to facilities across the county.
Bates County Memorial Hospital salutes its hospital and family care clinic staff, healthcare providers and volunteers for their commitment to our patients and community. With an annual payroll of over 12 million dollars and over 300 employees and contracted staff, the hospital is a major contributor to the economy of our area. During National Hospital Week, we celebrate the history, technology and dedicated professionals that make our hospital a beacon of confidence and care.
The history of healthcare in Bates County began in 1926 when Mrs. S.C. Stayton, in response to the great need in the growing city, rented a two-story house at 107 S. Havana Street and opened a hospital. She furnished five upstairs rooms for patient use and local doctors furnished an operating room. The first patient was admitted on June 17, 1926. Mrs. Stayton was manager, and for the first year, the citizens of Butler paid for a registered nurse. Within a few months, it was necessary to convert the first floor into patient rooms.
In 1932, Mrs. Stayton convinced the City to purchase property for a new hospital. She built the Butler Memorial Hospital in memory of her late husband. The building was two stories high and had a daylight basement. It was located at the corner of Maple and College Streets. This hospital opened June 23, 1932. In 1943, the City of Butler purchased the building for $20,000. Many additions and improvements were made over the years, but by the late 1950’s, it was apparent that a larger, more modern facility was needed.
Early in the year of 1957, the State Division of Health adopted new rules and regulations for the operation of hospitals in Missouri. Unless costly improvements were made very soon, Butler Memorial Hospital was in danger of losing its license. Thousands of dollars would be needed to satisfy these new laws. Included in the laws were costly fire prevention regulations, and many, many safety rules. It was decided that a new county hospital should be built. A mass meeting of some 200 interested citizens was held at City Hall. It was a lengthy meeting, beginning at 8:00 p.m. and ending at midnight. The main speaker at the meeting was Arthur L. Wood, Secretary of the Butler Memorial Hospital Board. He gave a detailed account of the conditions of Butler Memorial Hospital. At that time, the hospital was admitting an average of 1,400 patients each year, and between 65 percent and 70 percent of these patients lived outside the residential limits of Butler.
The Board of Directors took immediate steps to apply for Federal Aid before the June 1, 1957 deadline. They appointed seven additional Board members from outlying areas in the County. One of the major concerns at this time was to determine whether to raise the money for construction of the new hospital by popular subscription or through a county bond issue. It was
decided to raise funds for the new hospital by voting on a county bond issue in the amount of $350,000. If it passed, we would be able to apply for federal aid under the Hill-Burton Act. Tuesday, September 17, 1957 was election day. The vote was almost 5-1 with 4,056 voting yes and only 972 voting no. Mr. Carl J. Henry, Chairman of the County Hospital Board, was recorded as stating the following:
“The Bates County Hospital Board wishes to thank all the clubs, organizations, groups and individuals who contributed so much to the education campaign favoring the bond issue for a county hospital.
“The result is evidence of what good citizens, forgetting selfish interests, jealousies and personalities, can do when they cooperate in behalf of a worthy cause.
“Members of both political parties and all religious denominations and county newspapers, marched shoulder to shoulder in a drive for better living conditions for all the people.
“Bates County can now proudly step forward as a progressive and growing community that will attract new residents and industrial plants.”
The County Court, acting on November 25, 1957, appointed a Board of Hospital Directors consisting of five members as follows: O. E. Bennett of Rockville; Roy R. Hamilton of Amoret; Dr. L. D. Harper of Adrian; Carl J. Henry of Butler; and Fred Marquardt of Rich Hill. Mr. Henry was chosen as Chairman.
The County Court sold the bonds and purchased a site of 19 acres on West Nursery Street for $15,000. The Board contracted with Hewitt and Royer, architects of Kansas City, to draw plans and specifications. Bids for construction were received by the Board on April 15, 1959 and construction began on May 12, 1959. By November 6, 1959, construction was about 42 percent completed, the roof on, concrete floor laid and most brick walls completed.
A bitter cold day greeted those who attended the cornerstone ceremonies on Friday, November 5, 1959. It was conducted by the Grand Lodge of Missouri, A.F. & A.M., under the auspices of Butler Lodge 254 with the assistance from the Adrian, Rich Hill, Amsterdam, Foster and Hume Masonic Lodges.
A copper box containing a current copy of the Bates County Democrat, certain current coins, and other items that will be of historic interest to generations yet unborn, were sealed within the stone. The copper box itself is rich in history, it being in the cornerstone of the old Butler Academy as of June 6, 1877 by the Masonic Order. It later became the property of Judge Carl J. Henry, who in turn presented the box for use by the new Bates County Memorial Hospital. This copper box and its’ contents are currently on display at the hospital.
A hospital is “where miracles happen every day.” Many years have passed and many more changes have been seen in not only the physical appearance of the hospital but also the technology and services available to Bates County and surrounding area. While there have been dramatic changes in how healthcare is managed, one thing has not changed at Bates County Memorial Hospital – the compassion and care we always strive to give our patients every day. The Board of Directors is committed to the healthcare of our community and extend a THANK YOU to the excellent staff for their continued loyalty and commitment to quality patient care.