Mecosta County Medical Center History
Founded in 1879 by Sister Mary Joseph Lynch of the Sisters Of Mercy (a colleague of Florence Nightingale and a veteran of the Crimean War) the first Mercy Hospital was based on Industry designs of the time. It served well until destroyed by fire in 1882. Patients were housed privately until a new building was erected in 1883 with insurance money and private donations. This graceful brick structured graced land adjacent to the present-day Mecosta County Fair Grounds on Pere Marquette Street. First commissioned to serve a largely male population drawn to the timber frontier of the late 1800's, the facility was soon expanded to include a school of nursing and a women's ward.
As was the fate of many public buildings of the time, this Mercy Hospital was also destroyed by fire in 1908, leaving the community without a formal resource until funds were developed and part of the Northern Hotel, located at the West end of Maple Street. Sadly, this "new" hospital and the hotel also burned in 1919, probably due to ether stored on site, resulting in five deaths. This tragedy, coupled with a declining economy and population, forced the Sisters of Mercy to build elsewhere, leaving Big Rapids and Mecosta County to the use of private homes to care for the area's sick and injured until the building of Big Rapids Community Hospital on its current site at the corner of Winter and Locust in Big Rapids in 1926.
Situated on land donated by the City of Big Rapids with money donated by Dr. C.P. Bigelow (and a substantial portion provided by a Big Rapids millage question), Community Hospital, staffed by many of the same physicians, nurses and others who formerly worked at Mercy Hospital, became a beacon of hope once more for those in medical need. As area population stabilized, a maternity service was added and modernization and remodeling continued into the post-war years, when increasing demand again led city fathers to attempt an expansion, which failed on its first try. Acting on his conviction that an expansion was needed to meet growing community need, W.C. "Top" Taggart and Mrs. Taggart donated $250,000 to the project, which was matched by voters to provide the funds needed to complete the "Taggart" wing in 1959, adding a new dimension of advanced technological care and creating a stable, supportive health care environment once more. Big Rapids Community Hospital received its first full accreditation by the Joint commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in 1962.
In 1965, a long-term care wing was approved by the City Commission. Completed in 1969, the three-story addition cared for the area's aging population until the emergence of private long-term care facilities in 1976.
In 1972, the Mecosta County Health Department, noting crowding and other deficiencies in the layout and mechanical systems of the old hospital building, urged the hospital board and city government to action. This led to the formation of a county-wide committee devoted to creating a county-owned health facility with a broader funding base to meet county-wide demand for advanced health services. Successful passage of the 1975 referendum turned the facility over to Mecosta County and an associated $2 Million bond issue enabled the hospital to remodel and expand emergency, surgical and inpatient facilities and create an expanded obstetrical service. The emergence of private extended care facilities in Big Rapids allowed the 1969 building to be used for inpatient medical, surgical and pediatric services. In 1979, the hospital Auxiliary opened its brand new Gift Shop in the outpatient area.
Throughout the early 1980's the hospital was actively involved in the move to provide advanced life support throughout Mecosta County along with the addition of new primary care and specialty physicians to the Medical Staff. More physicians, combined with the shift from outpatient management, brought increased demand for outpatient ancillary, surgical and other services, necessitating extensive remodeling and improvement to support advanced diagnostic and therapeutic technologies. The advent of helicopter transport for trauma and emergency medical patients prompted further adjustment and expansion of MCMC facilities, as did the continued need to recruit and retain a quality Medical Staff which remains at the core of our technological excellence today.
Mecosta County General Hospital continued to improve area access to primary care and specialty medical services according to a 10-year plan adopted in 1993, when its Board of Trustees made a formal decision to maintain hospital facilities at the current site in a residential area of Big Rapids. The 1990s saw great advances and careful management of economic resources for maximum community benefit as the hospital added a new Birthing Center and Inpatient Physical Rehabilitation Center in 1995. This concluded extensive mechanical and interior renovations and added capacity in its Medical Imaging department, including mobile MRI service for the community. The hospital was upgraded in all inpatient and public areas, including the cafeteria, Cardiac Rehabilitation Center and community education areas.
Mecosta Health Services, the hospital's ten-year old primary care practice, also found a new home with the addition of the Medical Arts building on the MCGH campus in 1999-adding significant access primary care as MCGH/MHS actively recruited many new primary care physicians and mid-level providers to serve its growing service region. The building also became home to the Crew Eye Center, Big Rapids Orthopaedics, PC and Pediatric Associates of Big Rapids PC. Mecosta Health Services simultaneously placed offices in Canadian Lakes and has continued to expand services to date.
Mecosta Health Services welcomed a $1 million medical office expansion in Canadian Lakes in 2004 because the leased office in the Country Corner Plaza, was too small to provide the space for a professional, customer friendly service area and efficient work flow. Mecosta Health Services providers in Canadian Lakes would now occupy 7,500 square feet of the 15,000 using the upper level of the building, leasing the lower level to other medical community services.
A year before this on April 29, 2003, Mecosta County voters recognized the need for improvement at Mecosta County General Hospital, voting in favor of the supporting bond issue and allowing this $11 million project to begin.
County bonds for the plan were sold on February 19, 2004, and the County Commission also advanced $1 Million to kick off the project in fall of 2004.
With excitement and after thorough planning, expansion and renovation began in the previous emergency room, surgical suites, and patient registration and laboratory specimen collection areas. "This is a time of significant growth and change in regional health services," notes Sam Daugherty, CEO of Mecosta County Medical Center. "We appreciate everyone's trust and support with this project. It is a privilege to expand and develop regional health resources."
On June 16, 2005 Mecosta County General Hospital's name was officially changed to "Mecosta County Medical Center", along with a grand opening.
The previous Emergency Department, like many other medical facilities, was designed in the early seventies to accommodate 8,000 - 10,000 visits per year. But consumer needs for more privacy, confidentiality, comfort, and convenience have dictated improvements in these areas. In 2005, the remodeled and expanded Emergency Department is now 14,000 square feet-maintaining triple the amount of space it previously offered. It offers greater privacy, larger rooms, and state-of-the-art equipment, in an effective, organized environment of care.
The project is designed to meet increased demand for emergency and outpatient services based on our area's growth and demographic projections, and to offer a new level of comfort, convenience and enhanced concern for patient privacy and confidentiality. The total for the new and remodeled area is approximately 42,000 square feet.
Main entry doorways were enlarged and there are volunteers guiding patients through the registration process. The main entrance to the hospital is now facing south toward Oak Street, and the emergency parking area is permanently located on Locust Street for greater accessibility, safety and convenience.
The staff is comprised of nearly 30 Clinical Laboratory Scientists, Phlebotomists, Secretaries and Receptionists. The public is more likely to meet the Receptionists and Phlebotomists; the Clinical Laboratory Scientists generally have less public and patient contact, as they are in the Main Laboratory performing the tests.
The Mecosta County Medical Center Auxiliary's larger gift shop, located in the new lobby has been very successful, and popular. There is now more storage area, better lighting, and cash area and a convenient location for shoppers. This larger room has also given the Auxiliary Buyer the opportunity to purchase new merchandise from different product lines offering a better variety.
Gift shop hours: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday 8 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Thursday 7 a.m.- 8 p.m.
Friday 8 a.m.- 5 p.m.
Saturday, Sunday12:30p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Throughout its history as Community Hospital and Mecosta County Medical Center, and drawing on its origins within the Mercy hospital tradition, MCMC proudly continues its role as the Mecosta County area's primary health resource and regional center for advanced Birthing, Rehabilitation and Acute Inpatient and Outpatient services. During all that history, it has been the thousands of people-patients, citizens, Red Cross Hospital Volunteers, Auxilians, employees and area health professionals who worked to provide advanced care...with a personal touch...who have made us an active and integral part of the life of our community.
Mecosta County Medical Center
605 Oak Street, Big Rapids, Michigan 49307 (231) 796-8691