Healing within these ever-changing walls
In 1891, Father Roman Scholter, pastor of St. Mary's Church in Oshkosh, convinced the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother to come to Oshkosh and start St. Mary's Hospital. The first hospital, a temporary facility, was located on the corner of Merritt and Boyd Streets. The new hospital was built on the same site. It was completed in March 1895. This four-story structure had a bed capacity of 26. It included private rooms, operating rooms, a dining room and a chapel. Building costs totaled $25,000, exclusive of furnishings.
The original hospital was used until a permanent hospital could be built. The deserted building had at one time been a house, was later remodeled into a store, and had most recently served as a saloon!
St. Mary's, which had just been erected, is a spacious and elegant building. It is almost an ideal hospital. The rooms are large, light and airy, and arranged with a view to perfect comfort and convenience. In the basement are the laundrey, kitchen, pantry and dining room, and the boiler room, the entire house being heated by hot water. Here is also a large bathroom where the Kneipp water cure will be given. On the first floor is situated the office, the large parlors, and some of the rooms which will be devoted to the patient. The chapel, with its stained glass windows lends an air of sacredness to the second floor.
The minor operating room opens directly out of the drug room and further down the hall is a room where the most dangerous operations will be performed. The operating table is of glass and enameled iron, and on either side of it sits a chair of white enameled iron. In order that the physician need not touch anything while working with his patient a series of pedals is arranged by means of which the water is turned into the granite basins. The third floor is devoted to private rooms and wards. In the babies, ward are little white iron bedsteads, entirely enclosed , that the wee ones may not fall out.
All of the rooms are furnished with bedsteads of white enameled iron, relieved by brass railings and knobs. The fourth floor is as pleasant as any, commanding a fine view of the city and the lake. The Sister's dormitory is a large airy room, ascetic in the plainness of its furnishing. To perfect the arrangement of the house and elevator has been put in, and a dumb-waiter running from the kitchen to the top story. On each floor is a bell indicator and speaking tube. The closets and bathrooms with their granite basins are porcelain tubs are convenient to all the rooms. All the floors are hard wood and the walls are calcimined.
Lakeside Sanitorium, a competitor of St. Mary's, was organized under the direction of Dr. M.E. Corbett in 1887. In 1912, he built a new $75,000 facility, named Lakeside Hospital on Hazel Street across from Menomonee Park. In 1918, the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother agreed to buy Lakeside Hospital. They renamed it Mercy Hospital.
In 1887, the Lakeside Training School for Nurses was founded by Dr. M.E. Corbett. And St. Mary's Hospital officially opened its professional school of nursing in the summer of 1914. But it wouldn't be until 1931 that the nurses would have a separate residence and educational unit, which they would be able to call home.
In 1955, work began on a $4-million three-wing expansion and remodeling project. It included modern operating rooms, additional patient rooms, an administration facility and a rehabilitation center. Patient rooms increased to 260.
After patients transferred from St. Mary's Hospital to Mercy, the original hospital gradually became known as St. Mary's Home for the Aged. A $1-million remodeling project in 1956 was followed by an eventual name change in 1961 to Marion Home. In 1968, Mercy Hospital and Marion Home merged, becoming Mercy Medical Center and Mercy Extended Care Center. The consolidation increased bed size to 500.
Architectural drawing of the 1980 expansion.
In 1978, Mercy broke ground for a $14-million three-phase expansion project. The program provided greater space for the emergency room, outpatient area, laboratory facilities, medical records, radiology, intensive care, business and admitting offices, plus a new boiler and power plant.
On October 8, 1997, construction started on a $50-million replacement hospital for Mercy Medical Center.