Monday, August 06, 2018
MH | BJC HealthCare was formed 25 years ago — in June 1993. To celebrate the anniversary, BJC TODAY is highlighting each of BJC’s hospitals and service organizations on this page in celebration of 25 years of improving the health of the communities it serves.
Memorial Hospital Belleville opened its doors on May 18, 1958, and the first patients were admitted the next day. The official opening was a major event in Belleville history, but the hospital’s history began decades earlier with a growing conviction among Belleville physicians and others that the city needed an additional hospital.
“We need new hospital facilities desperately,” said Edmund Bechtold, MD, in 1920. “Our boys fought the Great War so that we could build a better world. Let’s build it.”
Local Protestant churches supported the cause and helped raise funds to build the hospital. Then came the stock market crash of 1929, and interest in building an expensive new hospital waned.
But by 1935 the area’s physicians again were insisting that the need was critical, and fund raising continued in earnest. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held Dec. 4, 1955.
MH’s Auxiliary was chartered in 1957 — one year before the hospital opened. Over the years, volunteers have given more than 2.8 million service hours and contributed $9 million to support the hospital’s efforts.
In April 1958, 118 area physicians, representing 18 specialties, formally organized MH’s medical staff. Today, the medical staff at MHB has 435 physicians, 92 advanced health care professionals and nine dentists representing 43 specialties, and Memorial Hospital East has 355 physicians, 81 advanced health care professionals and three dentists representing 40 specialties.
The Memorial Convalescent Center was purchased in 1964, becoming the first St. Clair County extended care facility owned and operated by a hospital. Now known as Memorial Care Center, the 82-bed facility is Medicare approved and has been named one of the best nursing homes by U.S. News & World Report for eight consecutive years, as well as a five-star facility recognized by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
In its 60-year history, MH has had just three presidents. Taylor Braswell served from 1957-1987. Harry Maier assumed the role in 1986. When Maier retired in 2006, Mark Turner, who was named executive vice president and chief operating officer in 2004, became Memorial’s third president — a role he still holds today.
A strategic affiliation between Memorial Group and BJC became official Jan. 1, 2016. Memorial Regional Health Services (MRHS), the parent organization of MHB, MHE, MCC, Memorial Foundation and Memorial Medical Group (now known as BJC Medical Group of Illinois), was created through the affiliation. In 2016, Turner was named president of MRHS.
MHE opened April 12, 2016, to serve the health care needs of residents farther east and north. In October 2017, a 70,500-square-foot medical office building opened adjacent to MHE.
In phase II of a medical office building project on the MHE campus, Memorial is working collaboratively with BJC and Washington University School of Medicine to develop a Siteman Cancer Center facility in this location that would serve residents of southern and central Illinois. The building also will provide space for physician specialists and services, as well as expansion of BJC Medical Group of Illinois primary and specialty care providers.
In April, Memorial was re-designated as a Magnet® organization. This designation includes MHB, MHE and MCC. Memorial also has received numerous quality awards from HealthGrades, U.S. News & World Report, and Professional Research Consultants, illustrating the dedication, skill and compassion of Memorial staff.
In recognition of the anniversary, BJC TODAY asked several longtime team members a series of questions. Here’s what they had to say:
What were you doing at BJC 25 years ago and how has your role changed?
Twenty-five years ago, I was the operating room (OR) educator. My responsibilities included setting up an orientation program for nurses coming to the operating room with no experience, developing educational programs for the OR staff, and establishing the expectation for every OR nurse to develop a presentation on AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses) Recommended Practices (RP). Every RP was recorded and mandatory for the staff to view if the original presentation was missed. I had just graduated with my BSN degree from SIUE and was a member of the first OR open-heart team at MHB. Essentially, I have come full circle over the past 25 years, as I am currently the interim OR clinical specialist educator for the Periop 101 core curriculum, coordinator of the OR heart team and have my MSN degree.
– Cathy Fenton, RN, MSN, CNOR
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back 25 years?
My kids were in school and I worked part-time; I think I would tell myself I was doing the right thing. I have always felt like it’s important to learn all of the time.
— June Gage, RN
What is your vision of health care 25 years from now?
I hope that personal care stays in the forefront of health care, and I foresee even more outpatient procedures and surgeries.
— Barb Bell, RN
What were you doing at BJC 25 years ago and how has your role changed??
I was doing the same thing I’m doing now, except 25 years ago there were no computers and no digital photography. I developed my own slides, and prints were sent out to a local developer.
— Andy Nicholson, MSEd, media production coordinator
See more about BJC's 25th anniversary below:
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