Over more than a century ago, in 1904, a small private hospital was chartered in Excelsior Springs, in a three-story residence on Watertower Hill, the beginning of what is now the present Excelsior Springs Hospital.
In 1909, it was incorporated and moved to quarters above the old A & P building and subsequently transferred to rooms in the Southern Hotel on South Street. In 1913, the hospital moved to the old Lucerne Hotel building on Spring Street. In 1922, the Old White Sanitarium was purchased and a new brick wing was added, which was completed in 1923, and the facilities of the hospital moved there. Another section of the hospital was added in 1925.
As the City and area continued to expand, the facilities had to do so also in order to serve citizens of our City. In 1955, Excelsior Springs Hospital had an average year around bed occupancy of 80-85%, a figure which was dangerously high and rising steadily.
In the beginning, the hospital thrived in a financial way and plans for expansion were begun. However, with the prolonged depression of the thirties, its financial stability was shaken and foreclosure seemed about certain.
In 1941, Mrs. Margaret Sharp (pictured right) was put in charge and soon thereafter, she purchased half interest in the hospital, assuming a mountain of debts, a depleted treasury, and a disorganized personnel. Mrs. Sharp demonstrated a spirit devoted to the public welfare, one which motivated all her plans for the hospital.
Out of its earnings, the debts were paid; a modernization program was started; the physical property markedly improved; the medical-surgical and delivery equipment completely brought to date; the laboratory and X-ray departments placed under supervisory direction of Kansas City specialists; the nursing service was rendered more than adequate with graduated nursing on all floors at all times; the cuisine (kitchen) was contracted into probably the best to be found in any hospital in the United States.
Specialists in all lines of medicine and surgery signified a willingness to cooperate with the hospital whenever called. Not only that, they constituted a goodly number on its visiting staff.
On January 8, 1954, the Excelsior Springs Hospital was transferred from a private ownership to an eleemosynary (Charitable or non-profit) organization.
For more than a year this planning had been in progress ending finally in the transfer of ownership of the hospital to a newly organized board of directors.
In 1951, the Excelsior Springs Hospital served citizens with a 35-mile radius, of which a few came from Kansas City and North Kansas City, Missouri. At this time the hospital had a capacity of 35 beds which could be expanded to 40 bed occupancy in an emergency.
Growing in Care
Also in 1951, past records showed that 15,500 patients had been admitted and treated at the hospital since 1925. Also, these records showed that 1,150 babies had been born from a period beginning in November 1946 up to 1951. From January 1951 to November 1965 approximately 22,821 patients were admitted to the Excelsior Springs Hospital.
In 1953, there were 264 births while in 1954 there were 361. This was an increase of 97 births in one year taxed overcrowded conditions. Other services and treatment rose proportionately.
Mrs. Robert Hockensmith, the former Moyne Tindall, was the first baby to ever be born at the present Excelsior Springs Hospital. The second person to be born there was Dr. Clark Griffith, a professor at Harvard University.
In 1955, a drive was started to raise $195,000 toward a new wing at the Excelsior Springs Hospital. The new wing was to be three stories high and would allow the conversion of the old part of the building to treatment of chronically ill patients. At that time, Mayor H. Roe Bartle of Kansas City was the principal speaker. At a campaign dinner held at the Lewis School, 143 driveworkers attended. In his address, he said that the providing of hospital facilities in a community was the responsibility of all the citizens. He urged residents of Excelsior Springs to build their own facilities rather than attempt to gain admissions at Kansas City hospitals which he said at this time were overcrowded.
The campaign drive was a success. The new wing for the hospital was started in early 1956, and completed in December 1957. An open house was held to celebrate the opening of the new wing and to show residents and others interested through other parts of the hospital.
Looking to the Future
In 1969, the Excelsior Springs Hospital Auxiliary was formed under guidance of State Hospital Auxiliary officers and the hospital administrator. One of this group's first projects was the quest for funds for the Intensive Care-Coronary Care Unit which was established and put into operation late in 1969; since that time they have provided many services for the hospital.
Excelsior Springs Hospital continues to grow and provide medical services to our community with new, modern, and enlarged facilities that include three physician clinics. Two in Excelsior Springs, one in Lawson and the newly opened Health Express Clinic located in Price Chopper.