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A Hospital’s Beginning
The first hospital in Atchison opened in May of 1884, but closed after five years for lack of funding. The 1910 city directory lists “St. Francis Hospital” at 420 North Third but, presumably, medical needs in the area were provided by private physicians in their homes or offices or cases were sent out of town.
As the need for local hospital care grew critical, a board was formed of Atchison businessmen and dedicated citizens in the fall of 1912, and a campaign was begun to raise the necessary funds. The stated purpose of the institution was to care for the sick and injured without regard to race, color or creed. No one was to be refused service by reason of inability to pay.
By July 1914, Atchison Hospital was opened and the first patient was admitted. The total investment including the land, three-story brick and concrete building, and equipment was $65,000. The facility contained fourteen single rooms ($12.50-$30 per week), and four, four-bed wards ($8 per week). There were two complete operating rooms, a sterilization room, a modern laboratory, and one of the finest X-ray rooms in the West. 186 patients were treated in the first year of operation.
Our first CEO was a nurse. In addition to running the hospital, she helped out in surgery or on the wards-wherever another trained nurse was needed. She lived at the hospital until she gave up her bedroom for the first nursery after the first baby was born in August of 1914.
During the Depression and World War II, a shortage of doctors, trained nurses, and supplies played havoc with local health care. In the 1940s and again in the 1950s, the hospital was renovated and expanded. In 1962 a long-term care facility, Cray Manor, was attached as a two-story south wing.
By the 1970s, continued growth led to the construction of the Ramsay Medical Building, housing doctor, dental, and counseling offices. During the 1980s, Atchison Hospital kept pace with rapidly changing advances in medicine and technology and a major $2.5 million remodeling program was completed in 1990. Helicopter transport was now an option, and the Hospital had five satellite clinics serving the rural areas.
Even though there had been extensive remodeling and expansion in 2001, it had become apparent by the end of that decade that the old hospital building was simply no longer able to provide the type of facilities required for Atchison Hospital to remain a leader in area healthcare. Groundbreaking for a new facility took place in August, 2008 and Atchison Hospital opened our new, state-of-the-art location at 800 Raven Hill Drive in January, 2010. The core structure of the original hospital was imploded in August, 2010 and the remaining buildings and land were donated to Benedictine College.