A Century (and More) of Excellence
Story by Janet Wear-Enloe | Feb 27, 2018
Support from the business community creates a legacy of wellness through St. Mary’s Hospital.
When the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce was formed as the Commercial Club in 1893, there was no hospital in the community. By the turn of the 20th century, Jefferson City was a thriving river town with all the modern conveniences of a state capital — but Mid-Missourians seeking extended medical care still had to travel by river or trail to St. Louis or Kansas City.
In 1902, the pastor of St. Peter’s church requested that the Sisters of St. Mary, in St. Louis, establish this community’s first hospital. Shortly thereafter, two nuns from the Sisters of St. Mary boarded a train bound for Jefferson City.
As soon as the nuns arrived, they immediately began caring for patients — regardless of their ability to pay —while raising money to build the hospital. The Jefferson City business community responded then much as it does today, which is to say generously. The Jacob Moerschel family, proprietors of Capitol Brewery, sold the land for the hospital at the discount price of $1.00. When the cornerstone was laid just two years later, the $60,000 facility featured 38 hospital beds, a pharmacy, X-ray services, and operating rooms.
Smallpox and influenza epidemics, a major fire, two world wars, and other adversities did not deter the Sisters of St. Mary from caring for the sick. Advances in the medical world kept physicians, administrators, and staff busy growing the hospital on the original site at the intersection of highways 50, 54, and 63 for over 100 years.
In 2000, it had become clear that St. Mary’s Hospital had outgrown its original home. The planning process to determine the hospital’s future — and how to best care for the community’s health — began. In 2004, planners purchased a new hospital site, nearly 110 acres along Highway 179, for $3 million.
The next step was determining how to implement road access to the site. The chamber contributed to an early stage engineering study which considered options for lowering costs on the Mission Drive interchange. The city, county, and MoDOT became financial partners in developing the highway infrastructure. That interchange also opened the opportunity for other development along Highway 179, including the new high school now being constructed across from St. Mary’s Hospital.
The new hospital opened to patients on November 16, 2014 with a focus on exceptional quality and safety. The $220 million campus is state-of-the-art, featuring all-private hospital rooms with picturesque views, bedside nursing, advanced procedural suites with cutting-edge diagnostic technology, and an expanded emergency department.
Throughout its long history, St. Mary’s Hospital has shaped and been shaped by this community. St. Mary’s will continue to work closely with chamber, state, civic, county, and business leaders to improve the quality of life in Jefferson City. Members of the medical staff, boards, volunteers, and employees share in the triumphs of more than a century of service and will continue to help shape the delivery of SSM Health’s mission: “Through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God.”