During the May 4 election in 1920, voters in Adams County were posed with the question of constructing a county hospital and perhaps even more interestingly were asked how much money should be set aside for the construction if the project was approved.
These election plans came forth after county physician Dr. Seth D. Beavers filed a petition that contained the names of over 1,200 freeholders in Adams County who supported a new hospital.
The commissioners appointed Earl B. Adams and Fred Mills, county freeholders, as election commissioners along with county auditor John G. Mosurio. On Election Day, 264 voters went to the polls and an overwhelming majority sided with the construction idea. Also decided during the election was that $100,000 would be raised by a bond issue.
The petition had suggested the hospital be built in Decatur since a tract of ground within the old fair grounds had been donated by the county commissioners for the purpose.
Thus, with the backing of the electorate, it was off to work. The Charles Saunders firm of Portland was hired as the general contractor and Decatur architect Oscar Hoffman designed the three-story building. Henry B. Heller, the county attorney, supervised the legal work necessary. Alas, the after drawings and plans were finished, it was estimated the project would come to about $125,000, or $25,000 more than what the voters had authorized.
The Adams County Council approved that extra amount at its June 1922 meeting so that construction could begin. Even with the extra amount allocated by the county council, it was noted the $125,000 did not include the furbishing of patient rooms. Thus, the hospital board, consisting of president A. J. Smith, vice president E. M. Ray, secretary Mrs. Clara Anderson, and trustee Frank Heimann, put advertisements in the newspaper encouraging the good people of Adams County to “help humanity, immortalize your name by furnishing a room in the Adams County Memorial Hospital.”
The public appeal was truly a success. Individuals, churches, fraternal organizations, and other groups donated generously. The cost of furnishing a bed room was $200 ($300 for a sun room). Donations from all over the United States poured in and prior to the opening of the hospital, all single rooms, three wards, and a sun room on each floor were completed bringing the total bed capacity to 64.
The good news was the original construction costs were somewhat overstated as when the hospital opened for business on Monday, July 30, 1923, it was discovered the building had cost just over $90,000!
The new hospital had obstetrical, in-patient, and surgical care on the first two floors. The basement was used for the emergency department and nursing personnel lived on the third floor. The third floor of the hospital was converted to patient care usage in 1947 and the first major expansion/remodeling of the facility occurred in 1957. This construction concentrated on ancillary departments, surgery, labor and delivery, laundry, and food service. Hospital capacity was increased to 87 beds and a lobby and business office was also constructed as a single floor addition to the front of the hospital. All of this work was accomplished for $520,000.
It was another 13 years before hospital officials decided to vacate the 1923 section of rooms for patient care and to modernize the 1957 expansion. It was finally completed in August, 1973 at the cost of $2.6 million.
Over the years, Adams County Memorial Hospital branched out from traditional hospital services. For example, on January 1, 1976, the hospital assumed control of the countywide Emergency Medical Services, a department that originally featured basic life support medics, then went to advanced life support and in 1982 became a paramedic provider.
With the trend in medicine rapidly changing from an in-patient to an out-patient modality, ACMH constructed a physician’s office building for up to six doctors in 1979. In later years, the hospital has added offices in Geneva, Berne, Monroe, and two more in Decatur. Following another trend, many of the new doctors on the staff at the hospital are now hospital employees instead of being independent contractors.
In 1987, the hospital opened a new outpatient service center for $100,000 under the estimated budget of $2,335,875. The expansion included a new and vastly enlarged emergency department, expanded radiology and physical therapy departments, classrooms, a new business office, pharmacy, and a new area for the respiratory and EKG department.
In that same year, the hospital renovated the third floor of the 1957 addition into the Extended Care United, a 14-bed facility designed to assist patients who needed assistance longer than they could receive in the hospital.
Continuing its alpha to omega horizontal health care program, the hospital assumed control of the Woodcrest Retirement Center on January 1, 1993, and later that year broke ground for a new 143-bed nursing home. The retirement center has expanded from an initial 11 apartments on 102 acres of land donated by the Porter Family to one that today consists of 42 apartments, 36 villas, and the nursing home facility.
More “outside-the-box” thinking came in 1996 with the addition of the hospital’s Corporate Medical Services. CMS contracts with numerous factories, industries, and businesses to treat work-related injuries as well as performing pre-employment physicals, DOT physicals, and drug screenings for employees. This department was housed in a new piece of construction finished along the south side of the building that also included more dietary space and accounting services.
ACMH moved outside of Adams County in 2000 when they constructed and opened The Village of Heritage Nursing Home in Monroeville in Allen County. This facility was named in 2011 as the top nursing home in Allen County and has a capacity of 61 patients.
In one of the biggest decisions ever made in the history of the hospital, officials started holding meetings to discuss the possibility of a brand new hospital about 10 years ago. After numerous public hearings and meetings, it was decided a hospital could be built without an increase in property taxes at a cost of approximately $40 million. This bond issue was issued and the Porter Family Foundation donated 39 acres of land on which the hospital would be built.
The groundbreaking was held May 22, 2003, and it was announced then the hospital would open on July 4, 2005. The new hospital would be 60,000 square feet larger than the old hospital and featured many new options including a popular Worthman Fitness Center and enhanced and enlarged outpatient service departments.
The new hospital did open on July 4, 2005 and nearly 10,000 people from the area toured the facility in open houses held the week before it opened.
In 2004, the hospital board of trustees officially changed the name of the hospital to “Adams Memorial Hospital and later in 2005, the trustees voted to change the designation of the hospital to being that of a critical access facility. In 2011, Adams Memorial Hospital was honored as being named one of the top 100 critical access hospitals in the entire United States.
While the new hospital functioned smoothly at 1300 Mercer Avenue, the original 1923 facility of 805 High Street remained idle. Even though interest was shown in the old hospital by several groups, it was finally decided the costs of remodeling would be too high and hospital officials approved a plan to have the 83-year old building razed, a process finally completed in 2006.
In 2007, the hospital started an after-hours clinic for non-emergency medical illnesses and injuries in 2007. The Stat Care Clinic is located in the Corporate Medical Services department and is open 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
The Paul and Kathryn Strickler Oncology Institute was built in 2008 and allows oncology and radiation doctors to see area patients closer to home. Also in this building, the Orthopaedic Clinic and Sports Clinic of Dr. David Coats was started in 2009.
Construction is currently under way to remodel the “B” wing of the Woodcrest Nursing Home to become a new rehabilitation center. This site will become the new home of the Extended Care Unit will an anticipated opening date of January 1, 2012.