In 1910, Audrain County's population was at 21,687 with 5,939 souls living in Mexico, the county seat.
Commanded by growth, brought the community's need for a hospital to the forefront. Civic leaders and members of the Mexico Commercial Club (later the Chamber of Commerce) frequently discussed and expressed concern, but could offer no solution.
One evening arriving early to City Hall for a City Council meeting, Allen P. Green and Colonel Robert M. White were again talking about a community hospital. Mr. Green offered to put up the first money for a hospital if Col. White would match it. Col. White did and the fund was started.
The next move was to convince the president of the Mexico Commercial Club, R.D. Worrell, that a hospital was of enough importance to the city to warrant the group's interest. He quickly agreed that it was, setting up a committee to investigate the area's medical needs and the feasibility of establishing a hospital.
After an exhaustive study, the committee decided that a general community hospital offering the most modern facilities for surgery as well as for nursing care, was needed and would be supported by the public. One of the first buildings brought to their attention was the Windsor Hotel. With repairs and remodeling posing few problems, the Association was ready to open its new hospital Dec. 4, 1913.
On the bright spring day of March 18, 1919, a large crowd gathered on East Monroe Street to attend the laying of the first cornerstone of Audrain Medical Center. Among the dignitaries invited to speak at the brief ceremony was Judge David H. Harris of Fulton.
By May of 1919 the Mexico Hospital had cared for a total of 1,375 patients, 703 of whom were either half or whole charity. The Mexico Hospital had served the community well during these years. Now they looked forward to the completion of the new Audrain Hospital.
This building that you are erecting here, my friends, is not being put up for any special or favored class. It is not for the rich alone, neither is it for the poor alone, but it is for every man, woman and child in Audrain County who may need its ministering care, and even for the stranger within your gates….
Completed in December 1920, the first county hospital in the State of Missouri displayed an exterior of Tapestry Brick, Carthage Stone, and tall columns at the main entrance. It was built to provide accommodations for 38 inpatients
Audrain Hospital Nursing Staff
The decade of the 1930s was one of progress for the Hospital. Board members included many civic-minded residents of the county. Leadership from its physicians was directed toward the recognition of Audrain as a First-Class Hospital.
After several years, Audrain Medical Center, a small, rural, mid-western hospital met hospital standardization requirements and was accredited by both the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association.
As the United States and residents of Audrain County were swept into World War II, the Hospital felt its impact along with other medical institutions across the nation. War years meant an increase in the normal patient load. Nurses worked against obstacles in order to maintain a high level of service. At the end of the war in 1945, as the Audrain Hospital prepared to celebrate its 25th anniversary, many in the community considered it an excellent time to express their appreciation to the Hospital by donating gifts of the latest equipment.
Million Dollar Addition
At the end of World War II, the Mexico Hospital was growing steadily. Treating an average of 60 patients daily was far more than the Hospital was equipped to handle.
Recognizing the need for expanded facilities, the Audrain Trustees had joined with the Mexico Chamber of Commerce in promoting the first bond issue for hospital expansion. With the hospital’s patient load continuing to increase, the bond issue was passed.
With the completion of the Audrain expansion program, the Mexico General Hospital was closed, ceasing its operations in 1955. The Audrain Hospital was then recognized as the primary source of medical care for all residents of the county, regardless of wealth, race, or choice of physician.
Patient capacity increased from 38 beds to 120 with an emergency capacity of 160. With two operating rooms – all air conditioned – surgery increased from an average of eight cases a day to fifteen. Two nurseries with a 25-basinett capacity were added, along with a sun room and a lounge. A special gift from Mr. and Mrs. A.P. Green was the Green Chapel.
A Career in Health Care
In 1959 the Hospital began to offer an educational program in cooperation with the Adult Education classes at the Mexico High School.
The Mexico Public School of Practical Nursing was established to give young women in the area an opportunity to train as practical nurses; they could then qualify for their state licenses and subsequently be hired for positions in the Hospital.
Volunteers contributed thousands of hours to the Hospital’s overall program, performing a variety of tasks: the delivery of mail, care of patient’s flowers, a photographic service for babies, the book mobile, a beauty shop, running errands for patients, and the operation of the Coffee and Gift Shop. These women, often their personal friends, were welcomed by the patients.
In 1969, the East Central Missouri Mental Health Center was built adding 24 additional beds. This new addition located to the east on land donated by Mr. and Mrs. J.B. Arthur, connected the Center to the main hospital by an overpass across Hord Street; it reflected the Hospital’s growing concern for mental health care in the community.
By 1970 the medical care offered by the hospital had extended far beyond that of the original scope. On September 21, 1970, a motion was made, seconded, and passed, changing the name of ‘Audrain Hospital’ to ‘Audrain Medical Center.’
In 1971, Audrain Medical Center’s Multi-Purpose Facility opened. The facility served those patients in need of up-to-date long term care accommodations. The central concept was one of progressive care - from an acute illness, to rehabilitation, to eventually being discharged. It was also a place where people could stay for indefinite periods of time.
In August, 1972, Audrain Medical Center was recognized by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals which included the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Osteophathic Association.
Individual doctors associated with the Hospital continued to receive recognition and to hold membership in various additional qualifying groups according to their own specialties.
New Partnership & New Hospital Name with SSM Health
In 2013, Audrain Medical Center joined SSM Health Care, marking the beginning of a new future together.
Audrain Medical Center was officially renamed SSM Health St. Mary's Hospital - Audrain in October 2014 when SSM Health Care began unifying all its hospitals and health care services under one name - SSM Health.
The move to SSM Health reflects the organization’s commitment to an exceptional patient experience. That means delivering high-quality health care that is affordable, sustainable and convenient to every patient.