Celebrating 100 Years of Healthcare in Smith County

SMITH CENTER, Kan. – Smith County has had organized healthcare since 1921. This summer, the staff at Smith County Memorial Hospital celebrate this milestone.

“The medical and hospital staff have worked hard for many generations to meet the needs of the community and beyond, and to do so in a positive way.” said Allen Van Driel, CEO of the hospital, “We have had a long history of quality health care in Smith County and we are thrilled to continue in the footsteps of so many that have come before us.”

Some county residents will remember when the Ingleboro Mansion was the primary hospital in Smith County.

The large Victorian house on North Main, built in 1893 for the family of J. R. Burrow, was the first building in Smith Center with a steam heating system. When the Ingalls/Burrow family moved to Topeka, the house was sold and eventually converted into a hospital, beginning service in 1921.

At less than a tenth of the current facility’s square footage, it’s hard to believe that the hospital served a county of over 10,000 people. But healthcare in the early 20th century was different than it is today. Life expectancy was barely over 60 and doctors commonly made house calls.

As times changed, the community saw a need for an improved venue to provide healthcare services in the county.

A location south of town was chosen and a new hospital was built using a mixture of federal funding, tax dollars and charitable contributions. The facility was dedicated on June 3, 1951.

To thank the community for its support, the hospital was dedicated to and named for those who had been lost in World War II. A plaque was placed outside Smith County “Memorial” Hospital listing the names of those fallen WWII veterans and was expanded over the years to include Korean and Vietnam war veterans as well.

The Ingleboro Mansion where Smith County’s healthcare began is now a bed and breakfast; guests can sleep in the same room that a generation of Redmen and Goldbugs were born in.

After 67 years of service, the hospital on the south side of Smith Center was due for a complete renovation. However, the cost of continuing to patch infrastructure and meet accessibility needs was determined to be more expensive in the long run.

So, once again showcasing the tremendous support of the community towards its healthcare, the new hospital on Highway 36 was built.

The highway facility is nearly double the size of the old hospital and houses 16 inpatient beds: two labor/delivery suites, two operating rooms, eight single patient rooms, three double patient rooms and one isolation room.

The layout concerns in the old facility were addressed by placing the emergency room, surgery area and labor and delivery rooms steps from each other with dedicated nurses stations and workspaces for each department nearby. The space available for physical, occupational and speech therapy, as well as cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation, is approximately three times larger and includes hydrotherapy, cardiac rehabilitation, sleep studies, a PT gym and OT simulation rooms.

Surgical facilities, including three preoperative holding rooms, two post-anesthesia care rooms, a sub-sterile procedure room and a state-of-the-art operating room provide greatly enhanced capabilities. The emergency department includes two large trauma treatment rooms, a smaller triage/treatment room, a three-patient facility for infusion and chemotherapy administration and an adjacent emergency helipad. The specialty clinic includes nine rooms and offices for three providers giving the hospital the opportunity to host multiple clinics per day. The new campus connects the hospital with Smith County Family Practice, which includes 19 clinic exam rooms and eight offices for providers.

Overall, the new facility has updated technology; more confidential registration processes; modern patient rooms; new, fresh food service; and many other needed improvements.

While much has changed in the healthcare industry over the last 100 years, the dedication to patients and the interest in health communities has always been top-of-mind for providers. Through embracing new technology, teaching future generations of providers, focusing on preventive care, adding specialists and outpatient services and participating in community services that contribute to overall health, the staff at Smith County Memorial Hospital are continuing the proud tradition of patient-centered healthcare.

Here’s to the next 100 years.

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The Road to a New Building

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