In March of 1894, Mother Augustine Giesen and four companion sisters arrived in Maryville, Missouri, with a mission to care for the sick. On March 28, Mother Augustine and Sister Salesia Schlegel purchased a house and three acres of land adjacent to St. Mary's Catholic Church (now St. Gregory's Catholic Church) in Maryville for $2,000.
This house was moved and remodeled for use as a hospital and convent, and is where the sisters began home-nursing. On September 8, this 12-bed St. Francis Hospital (then called St. Joseph Hospital) was formally opened; however, the first patient, Thomas Kidney, had been admitted on September 1.
One year later on March 15, 1895, architect John Walsh of Kansas City was hired to draw plans for a new hospital. Land was purchased for this hospital on March 18, and a contract was signed on April 9 with contractor W. A. Bailey to build the hospital.
On November 26, 1895, the new hospital was dedicated and occupied. The medical staff was eight in number. Charges per week were from $5 to $12 and from $1 to $2 per day, according to location, size and furnishings of the room.
An 1899 hospital report shows that of 140 patients treated, only 30 paid in full, 49 partially paid, and 61 were treated free. St. Francis Hospital prospered even with nearly one-half of the patients being treated at no charge.
By 1898, the building was already too small to meet the demands for new services, the increasing patient load, and the growing community of sisters. A contract was drawn in 1900 for the addition of 17 rooms and a new chapel. The addition was complete and dedicated ion August 28, 1901. And just three years later the decision was made to build a second addition of 21 rooms to the hospital for "old people and children."
On March 10, 1903, the first baby Mary Francis Baldwin was born in the hospital.
In 1905, a steam laundry was installed at the cost of $1,000. Up until this time, all the washing was done in tubs, scrubbed on a wash board and boiled on the stove.
During 1905, the hospital cared for 249 patients. The hospital also boarded 27 children.
The first hospital - the renovated convent - was later sold to St. Mary's Catholic Church for use as a school.
In 1910 and 1911, lightning rods and fire escapes were added to the building, and an electric elevator was installed.
In 1912, St. Francis Training School for Nurses was opened for the education of the Sisters of St. Francis.
The hospital overflowed with patients from a deadly flu epidemic during late 1918 and early 1919. Only the sickest were admitted.
On June 25, 1919, it was decided to build a third addition to the hospital that would be "completely fireproof." The new addition, which was begun April 21, 1920, was completed at a cost of $165,000. The new building was built with reinforced concrete and was a fireproof brick structure. The building was three stories high and included 20 patient rooms, a new surgery room, x-ray and laboratory with advanced equipment. The old building was also remodeled at this time. Most of the rooms were furnished by many local donors.
In 1922, St. Francis Hospital, fully accredited by the American College of Surgeons, was recognized as one of the "cleanest and best equipped institutions in Missouri," and was the only hospital north of the Missouri River to receive this accreditation.
In 1923, the dietary department was completely remodeled with an electrical refrigeration system and ice maker.
In November, 1928, a decision was made to remodel the existing building and to build a new chapel and classrooms, and 11 moths later, the new chapel was dedicated.
There were no major expansions during the depression years (1930-34), because resources and space were strained to the utmost. It is recorded that an increasing number of patients were able to pay all or at least part of their hospital bills. However, the hospital rates were as low as possible in the 1930s. It is estimated that the average patient stay was in excess of 14 days for medical and surgical patients and 10 days for obstetrical patients.
Flexotile covering was applied to the old worn wooden floors in patient rooms in 1937 and 1938, and the dietary department was remodeled again in 1939.
Mother Augustine Giesen resigned as Superior General of the congregation after having been head of the order for 49 years. Mother Lucia Kelley became the new Superior General.
A water cooling system was installed in 1944 to provide cold drinking water throughout the building. In 1946, the laboratory was enlarged to include a plasma bank and more space for pathological examinations.
Mount Alverno Convent was built in 1949, and all of the sisters, except those staffing the hospital, moved from the hospital to the convent. The vacated space was used to expand the business office and children's department.
On February 25, 1950, emergency lighting equipment was installed in case of power failure. The dietary department was completely remodeled and equipped, including a new electric elevator.
In 1955, the Hospital Guild (original name of the St. Francis Hospital Auxiliary) was formed with the purpose to raise funds for new equipment and hospital improvements. In 1959, the Guild purchased a whirlpool and electrocardiography machine for the hospital.
In 1956-57, the hospital received $33,400 from the Ford Foundation that was used to purchase an x-ray table, a furnace, surgery renovations, a new ambulance entrance, an ultrasound machine, an otoscope and an automatic sprinkler system for the entire building.
Also in 1957, a physical therapy department was furnished and equipped through donations.
The sisters received a donation in 1956 of 20 acres on Highway 71 as a location for a new hospital. An architect was hired to draw up plans for a 100-bed hospital, and a community fund drive began to raise a portion of the estimated cost of the building. This fund drive was headed up by community leaders who raised $450,000.
The remainder of the project was funded through a government grant and loans.
The community and the sisters were elated when the fund drive was complete. "October 4, 1965, was indeed an historic day! Pope Paul VI visited the United States, and St. Francis Hospital fund drive reached its goal." - both on the Feast of St. Francis, patron of the hospital and of the community of the Sisters of St. Francis.
In September, 1965, Edward DeMeulenaere assumed the responsibilities of the first lay administrator of St. Francis Hospital.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the new hospital was held on May 27, 1968, and the new hospital was dedicated on April 12, 1970. More than 1,000 citizens attended the dedication open house, and more than 7,000 attended the open house to tour the new facility. Patients were transferred to the new hospital on April 18.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a long-term care facility in March of 1970. A federal Hill-Burton grant was used to pay for the project as well as donations from the community. This long-term care facility, which was the north wing of the hospital, opened on March 12, 1972.
Also in 1970, the medical building for doctor offices was built adjacent to the hospital.
The County Ambulance District was developed from 1974 to 1975 and was based behind the hospital. The St. Francis Hospital Foundation was established in 1977 with the purpose of raising funds for equipment and programs for the hospital. The Home Health Department began operation in 1978.
Also, in the last 1970s, new diagnostic equipment was installed including a treadmill, fetal monitors and holter monitors. Prenatal and lamaze classes began, and an intensive care unit was opened. Respiratory therapy, coronary care and laboratory services were all expanded.
To keep in step with the times, the hospital invested in a data processing system in the early '80s. The cardiac care unit was relocated and the emergency services unit was designated to a Level III Trauma Center, the only trauma center in the 10-county northwest area of the state.
In June of 1985, a chemical dependency unit was opened in the former long-term care unit. Also during this month, a guest lodging program was initiated. Specialty clinics with area physicians began in 1986. In 1986, Kiddie Castle Child Care Center and a breast imaging center, which featured a dedicated mammography unit, opened.
In August 1987, the Sisters of St. Francis joined with the Sisters of St. Mary's in St. Louis to form a new congregation, the Franciscan Sisters of Mary. Through this merger, the hospital became a member of the SSM Health Care System. In 1987, the sisters gave the city of Maryville the statue of St. Francis of Assisi, located at the intersection of Lincoln and Main streets.
The mental health unit was opened in 1988, and one year later, In-Home Services, where trained professionals come into patients' homes to provide light housekeeping and respite care, was started.
Continuous Quality Improvement as a way of management was introduced at the hospital in 1990. The first laparoscopic surgery was performed in 1991, as was the first laser surgery.
Extensive remodeling and renovation took place in 1992, the most major reconstruction since the hospital was opened in 1970.
In 1990, St. Francis Hospital & Health Services adopted the quality management paradigm known at St. Francis as Continuous Quality Improvement. This change in management philosophy lead to tremendous innovation as patient care and customer satisfaction became the final measurement of clinical success. After six years of quality-based initiatives, St. Francis Hospital & Health Services received the prestigious Missouri Quality Award in Health Care in 1996. Since then St. Francis has been recognized for their commitment to CQI as a regional and state finalist in the Missouri Quality Team Award category.
In October of 1992, the hospital received a $50,000 rural health care grant for case management of senior citizens and education in gerontology, and the swing bed program was developed. Swing bed is a program for rehabilitative patients not well enough to go home.
In July of 1993, St. Francis Hospice was developed to serve the terminally ill. And in November 1993, St. Francis Hospital agreed to purchase local physician practices to form a new physician group, now called St. Francis Family Health Care. In late December, a new x-ray machine with fluoroscopy capability was installed in the Imaging Services Department. This $300,000 machine was purchased through donations to the St. Francis Hospital Foundation.
In 1996, St. Francis would become known as St. Francis Hospital & Health Services in an effort to recognize the comprehensive medical services offered by the many affiliates of St. Francis. Some of these services include; cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, home health, hospice, rehabilitation, physicians' offices and a preschool and child care center.
1998 marked the beginning of the first major construction project to the hospital since it was erected in 1970. The project was based on the need to increase space and improve capabilities of several departments including x-ray, rehabilitation, lab, emergency, and physician services. Also, the trend in health care of moving to more outpatient services was one of the catalysts for the expansion. A large portion of the expansion was designed to accommodate a five-physician clinic, an emergency room three times larger than the previous department, and rehabilitation department, which had experienced a 66% growth in volume from 1998 to 2000.
November 16, 2000 marked the onset of the expansion project by opening the new entrance, lobby and admitting/registration area. The emergency department officially opened the doors to its new location at 7:00 a.m. November 20. St. Francis Family Health Care -West began seeing patients in their new suite of offices.
December 4 and on December 11 the outreach specialty clinic physicians moved to their new location in the Maryville Medical Building, south of the hospital. Rehabilitation services entered their new area December 6, 2000.
Beginning in April 2001, a new fixed-base MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machine was installed, which replaced a mobile service available two days a week and made the services available on a full-time basis. The mammography service was moved from one of the physician offices back into the hospital. The Bread Basket cafeteria was redecorated to be consistent with other interior design changes occurring within the hospital. And, because of a 30% increase in surgical services over the past year, space was remodeled for a third operating room and endoscopy suite, increasing the number of available rooms from two to four. Final stages of the project included: moving pharmacy to the main floor; refurbishing the old pharmacy area to accommodate the transcription department; and moving the quality assurance staff to their new space in the medical records suite on the ground floor (in the old physical therapy area).
The final cost of the project totaled $5.4 million. Funding for the project was from long-term loans, hospital reserves, and funds raised by the St. Francis Hospital Foundation through their capital campaign. An open house was held September 9, 2001.