October 25, 2021, will be the 50th anniversary of HSHS St. Francis Hospital’s current building, marking half a decade of delivering high-quality care and dedicated service from this facility to the residents of Litchfield and surrounding communities.
Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the hospital is unable to host large-scale public celebrations, but a Mass will be held on Friday, October 22, in the Chapel. Other colleague activities are also planned along with ongoing social media postings highlighting photos and stories from the past 50 years.
The hospital is also collecting memories from the public from those who may have taken part in any of the facility opening events in 1971 or were one of the patients who moved on opening day to the new hospital. Click this link to submit a story.
“The Hospital Sisters have been providing health care in this area for 146 years and we are proud to be able to carry on the mission at St. Francis,” St. Francis Hospital President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Timpe said. “We also greatly thank the entire community for its ongoing support of the hospital. It was through community support that this facility was built and because of you our services continue to grow.”
In 1966, a fund drive was announced to help build a new hospital and the community exceeded the anticipated goal of $500,000. These funds, along with a federal grant of $3,444,000, made the construction project possible.
Construction began in April of 1968 when groundbreaking was held at the site and the building was completed in 1971.
On October 15, 1971, a copper box containing numerous items was blessed and placed in the cornerstone, and on October 17, there was a ribbon-cutting and public open house held for the community to tour the hospital before it officially opened.
Using vehicles provided by local funeral directors, the police, and other civic and health care groups, 55 patients were transferred from the old hospital to the new one beginning at 8 a.m. the morning of October 25, 1971.
In a speech at the groundbreaking in 1968, Mother M. Noel said, “The value of Catholic hospitals is being challenged today from many avenues and the challenge is in our hands, not only to provide top-notch health facilities, and comprehensive health care but also to provide apostolic health services to the people of Litchfield and the surrounding communities.”
Timpe noted, “Challenges are numerous today, as well, as we face a pandemic, personnel shortages, competitive markets, and many social and economic issues. Colleagues at St. Francis face these challenges, just as the Hospital Sisters did, with confidence and faith and we remain committed to reveal and embody Christ’s healing love for all people and to the health care ministry established here.”