Fifty years ago this month, Farmington Community Hospital opened its doors.
In recognition of this milestone, Parkland Health Center is inviting the community to celebrate the anniversary of its predecessor on Monday, April 29, the actual anniversary date. Cake and punch will be served in the main hospital lobby and guests may drop by between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The address has remained unchanged for 50 years — 1101 West Liberty St.
Every big dream that becomes a reality has a visionary and leader behind it, and Farmington Community Hospital had two — local businessman Stuart Landrum Sr. and local physician Dr. George Oliver. Joining them in the effort was a group of dedicated physicians and community leaders.
Discussions began taking place as early as 1962 and this led to the formation of a Farmington Chamber of Commerce “Hospital Committee” which Landrum chaired. The dream took seven busy years during which the team planned, worked hard and experienced many disappointments and successes before the hospital became a reality.
“The founding of Community Hospital was not easy to do, and that fact combined with the friendship of the people who got the hospital started made Community Hospital the great accomplishment of my father’s life,” said Stuart “Mit” Landrum Jr. “He considered it so, and he thought about, obsessed over, cared about, and cared for the hospital, its patients and employees from the day he got the idea to build it until his death in 1997. No detail was too small, no worry too trivial to escape his notice. Pop simply and purely loved Farmington Community Hospital. More than anything else, it was his life’s work.”
In 1964, Farmington Community Hospital, Inc., a not-for-profit corporation, was formed. After much groundwork and planning, part of the Harrington farm was purchased, ground was broken in December 1967 and Farmington Community Hospital opened its doors as an 81-bed hospital on April 29, 1969.
To help fund the construction of the hospital, citizens from the community purchased 10- and 20-year debentures, or bonds, and many gave donations and memorials. The sale of the debentures was headed up by long-time resident Albert Karsch. Some hospital rooms were partially to totally furnished by families in the community.
The hospital was fully accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in 1971. Several years later the facility was expanded to a capacity of 108 beds. In 1978 another expansion brought much needed space and parking, and increased the capacity to 130 beds.
Parkland Health Center was created in 1992, when Farmington Community Hospital merged with Bonne Terre Hospital which by then was affiliated with Christian Health Services Corporation in St. Louis. In 1993, Christian merged with Barnes and Jewish Hospitals to become BJC Health System — now BJC HealthCare.
In 2015, Parkland merged with Mineral Area Regional Medical Center in Farmington, making Parkland a composite of three local hospitals, each with a rich history and long-standing roots in the local community. Parkland Health Center continues to the present day as part of BJC HealthCare, with facilities in Farmington and Bonne Terre.
The Farmington Community Hospital Auxiliary was formed when the hospital opened and continues to be a vital part of the hospital today, having contributed many thousands of dollars for special projects and thousands of hours of volunteer service to the hospital. In 1979 the hospital began the Meals on Wheels for Special Diets program which continues today.
“It’s been an extreme thrill and source of great pride to see the evolution of the hospital,” said Dr. Oliver recently. “The real honor of this situation goes to the many people — both employees and volunteers — who helped to make our hospital a success.”
Dr. Oliver is still seeing patients at Southeast Missouri Mental Health Center, making his a 60-year health care career in this community.
“We are grateful for the vison and diligence of those who developed Farmington Community Hospital and the hard work and commitment of the many people who have made Parkland Health Center into what it is today,” said Tom Karl, president, Parkland Health Center. “We are proud to have served the community for the past fifty years and of course we look forward to many, many more years of providing health care in this region. We welcome the community to celebrate this significant anniversary with us.”
Parkland Health Center is part of BJC HealthCare which also includes St. Louis Children’s Hospital and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, the teaching hospitals for Washington University School of Medicine. For additional information about Parkland Health Center, call 573-756-6451 or the physician finder service at 573-431-3338 or visit www.parklandhealthcenter.org.