Lucas County Health Center Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Since opening its doors on May 1, 1961 Lucas County Health Center – previously known as Lucas County Memorial Hospital – has never lost sight of its commitment to providing the best possible care to the community.

In the late 1950s a group of citizens interested in developing a county hospital gathered 200 signatures in support of the project and placed the matter in the hands of the Lucas County Board of Supervisors. A public vote was held on November 6, 1956 and showed the public was firmly behind constructing a county hospital. The project was kickstarted when the supervisors issued $200,000 in bonds to begin the building process.

When the supervisors received a $180,000 Hill-Burton federal grant, the Lucas County Memorial Hospital Foundation formed and organized a drive to raise matching funds to comply with the grant requirements. Foundation members Judge Harold Levis, John Woodman, F.B. Ryan, and John Baldridge were able to raise $170,000 in private funds.

The hospital’s founding fathers organized when its first Board of Trustees meeting convened. The first trustees – Delbert James, Arthur Keller, Oliver Kent, Fred Curtis, Dean Ferguson, Earl Wright, and Oran Garrett – met to decide how to pursue the construction of a modern hospital in Chariton. Months of attention to the small details produced a hospital plan, including 12 baby beds and a thoroughly modern surgical facility.

Construction on what would become Lucas County Memorial Hospital (LCMH) began in the fall of 1959 and a grand opening was held on May 1, 1961.

As the community continued to grow, so did the hospital. In the next 10 years, LCMH would construct additions to house an additional 48-beds, two ambulances, and a 4-bed intensive care unit.

In 1986, Lucas County Memorial Hospital formally adopted the name of Lucas County Health Center and, soon after, more plans were made to add additional square footage to the facility.

In 1992, Lucas County Health Center Foundation launched a capital campaign to raise funds for an additional 20,000+ square feet to be added to the building. These additions comprised of 6,750 square feet for the medical office building and 13,821 square feet to expand the emergency room and outpatient services, including laboratory, radiology, and more.

“We’ve made major investments in our resources and people in the last 60 years,” said JoBeth Lawless, Chief Nursing Officer. “We want our community to rest assured that when they need quality care, they won’t have to leave our community to get it.”

Since it was founded in 1961, LCHC has served as a critical healthcare resource for communities in south-central rural Iowa. As healthcare continues to evolve, Lucas County Health Center is now looking towards the future and deepening the commitment to provide quality care by completing a Facility Master Plan – a project that is taking an in-depth look at the needs of the facility, patients, and community.

“We’ll be sharing more details in the months to come,” said Lori Johnson, Chief Operations Officer. “In the meantime, we want to celebrate our hospital and the exceptional staff that make Lucas County Health Center a healthcare home for those in our community.”