SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—On Sept. 24, 1952, the Sisters of Mercy dedicated their new hospital on the outskirts of Springfield, along Cherokee Street. Now in the center of our growing city, Mercy Hospital Springfield remains at the heart of health care as the longest-serving medical provider in our community.
The dedication date was significant to those Sisters, because Sept. 24 marks Mercy Day. That’s the day the foundress of the Sisters of Mercy, Catherine McAuley, opened the House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1827. McAuley had inherited some money, and immediately put it to work housing and caring for economically poor women and children.
By the time the Sisters opened the new Springfield hospital, they had already served this community for more than 60 years. In 1891, three of them prayed for their safety as their stagecoach rumbled down an old Indian trail on their way from St. Louis to Springfield. Dr. Jonathan Edward Tefft had written to the Bishop of Kansas City, requesting the Sisters’ help in running a Hospital Aid Society. A group of prominent ladies had established it, but knew more about pearls and parties than bedpans and bruises.
When those three Sisters of Mercy arrived, a small gray brick house with eight rooms awaited them--it would be both hospital and home. The 4-bed hospital received its first patient on November 6, 1891. By 1905, the Sisters opened a new 40-bed hospital and nursing school. In 1952, the Sisters were ready to dedicate their large new facility on Cherokee Street.
Today Mercy Hospital Springfield has grown to more than 800 beds and provides the region’s only Level I Trauma Center for adult and pediatric patients, a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the region’s burn unit and a Children’s Hospital, which is currently undergoing renovations in the hospital’s east wing.
Mercy Hospital Springfield still boasts the nation’s largest in-hospital chapel. At the center of the hospital on the sixth floor, it is a reminder of what is at the core of Mercy’s ministry. The chapel is always open for prayer and meditation, and hosts Catholic mass Sunday through Friday. In honor of Sister Catherine McAuley’s directive to provide guests with a “comfortable cup of tea,” Mercy co-workers will celebrate Mercy Day 2012 by reflecting on the 121-year history of the Sisters in Springfield as they take a moment to sit down with each other for tea, conversation, and prayer.