Mercy Hospital Fort Smith Hospital Once Was Known as the 'Baby Hospital'

March 6, 2019

Mercy has a legacy of innovation dating back to 1827, when Catherine McAuley opened her House of Mercy. As the Sisters of Mercy grew and expanded their ministry to other communities, they continued to adapt and change, finding new and better ways to serve.

Fort Smith was the site of one innovation in 1927, when St. Edward’s Hospital (now Mercy Hospital Fort Smith) opened a floor dedicated solely to new mothers and babies. In a time when hospital delivery was uncommon, this move was risky, but the Sisters were devoted to providing quality obstetrical care to rural Arkansas.

Alongside local doctors, who described the hospital rooms in glowing detail, the Sisters attracted patients by keeping costs so low that the hospital barely broke even. Only $12.50 was charged for a mother’s four-day stay, which included meals, nursing care and use of the delivery room. It wasn’t long before St. Edward’s became known as “Baby Hospital.”

Today, we continue this commitment to innovation. The rapid development of technology has radically changed how medicine is practiced. With Mercy Virtual, we are at the forefront of shaping that change. Change always has and always will be a part of our ministry. Like the Sisters before us, we embrace that change to better serve our communities.

“As the Sisters Before Us…” is brought to you by the Mercy Archives. Resources provided by Jessica Craig, Mercy’s archivist, include supplying co-workers with photos, quotes from Catherine McAuley, and stories about the Sisters of Mercy. For more information or to donate items to the archive, send her an email.