Mercy Celebrates 130 Years in Fort Scott

April 25, 2016

Serving the needs of the community has and always will be Mercy’s focus.  It all began 130 years ago when two Sisters traveling from Michigan to Los Angeles stepped off a train in Fort Scott. Both women had been ill and to aid their health, they were seeking a warmer climate than their home in Big Rapids, Michigan.

On their way west, they stopped for Sunday services and were offered hospitality for the weekend in Fort Scott. During that visit, the parish priest, Rev. Francis J. Watron, relayed to them the needs of the people in the area. He was even able to convince them that the climate in Fort Scott was sunnier and drier than in southern California. The Sisters decided not to go to California, but to return to Michigan to request permission to move to Fort Scott where there was a need for a school for pioneer children.

A mural displayed in the hospital depicts Mercy's expansion of health care since 1886.

A mural displayed in the hospital depicts Mercy's expansion of health care since 1886.

When Sister Theresa Dolan and Sister Mary Delores Drew arrived in Fort Scott one year later on April 26, 1886, they had full intention to start a school as originally planned only to learn the community was in desperate need of a hospital instead.  A small, 10-bed hospital had been prepared and was waiting for operation.  There hadn’t been a hospital in the area for more than 30 years, and the closest one was 90 miles away in Kansas City.

Both Sisters had previous nursing experience in Michigan and were naturals at organizing and opening the new hospital. Operations began with the two Sisters and two lay women; one as a night nurse, the other as business manager. The Sisters also visited the sick in their homes daily.

In staying true to its intent, Mercy has remained community minded for well over a century.  The community has seen tremendous growth in health care services and facilities to serve the area’s patients.

Once a 10-bed hospital in downtown Fort Scott, the current Mercy Hospital now stands strong on a hill at the south end of Fort Scott. The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2002; a testament to the philanthropic support from individuals whose lives have been touched by the exceptional care. Mercy now operates physician clinics in three counties in southeast Kansas; Bourbon, Linn and Crawford, as well as a multispecialty clinic where patients see physician specialists who travel to Fort Scott to reduce the need for patients to travel out of town. 

Keeping in mind that the community’s needs are ever changing, even more is on the horizon. Mercy will embrace the challenge of meeting the ever changing demands of health care.  Mercy’s plans for this decade include providing patients access to an even larger network of providers and services as well as incorporating the latest technology to make health care easier.  

For 130 years Mercy’s been steadfast yet dynamic; committed to and seeking out methods to serve the health care needs of the Fort Scott community and far beyond.


Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 


Mercy Hospital Fort Scott

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