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The History of Perry County Memorial Hospital

In 1945 by the end of World War II, a meeting was called to take advantage of the disposal of Hospital Field Units by the War Assets Board, and the board decided to convert the Perry County Infirmary into a hospital. The old field unit’s equipment would be used in this proposed hospital, as well. Although many were concerned about the feasibility of opening the plan too far from the center of the Indiana population, a group of volunteers eventually explored options for establishing the hospital. It was decided that Tell City and Cannelton would be the ideal location for a county hospital, and the building site was donated for the proposed hospital by Roy Fenn.

The hospital was to be financed, roughly, by one-third federal Government funding, one-third county bonding, and one-third donations. However, it’s interesting to note that less than 3% of the amount pledged failed to materialize. Money obtained from the Federal Government came from the Hill-Burton-Hatch Law, and PCMH was the first Indiana hospital to utilize it and the funding made available by it. Once commissioners were presented with a petition of about 5,000 signatures asking to begin construction of a hospital, a comprehensive financial plan was overwhelmingly approved.

By October 1950, 5 years after that first meeting after the end of WWII, the building was finally finished and staffed. Although times were lean and people hadn’t yet learned to utilize the county hospital however, a Perry County Memorial Hospital Foundation was formed, and as contributions came in, there was more money to buy needed equipment. This improved the hospital’s situation ten-fold thanks to a lot of hard work and the determination of some forward-thinking individuals. Not only was the community learning to use the hospital; they were learning how to help the hospital.

By 1956, the hospital’s services were being utilized to the point that there was a need for expansion. Again, it was necessary to go to the community and rally financial support. Another bonding issue was done for $130,000. The community responded generously, and many individuals pledged furnishing and equipment. The addition was fondly referred to as the “riverside wing” and housed resource utilization, mammography, and nuclear medicine, and the CT Scanner. After several more successful operations, the hospital board decided to complete the basement and second floor. This money was generated by hospital earnings, and no further bonding was necessary. The project was dedicated in 1963.

Talk of another expansion started in the early seventies. This, too, was a significant step as plans were to double the size of the existing structure. The addition would be built in front of the present hospital, and the 2 structures would be connected with a long corridor. It was aesthetically pleasing to the eye and caught the attention of healthcare providers throughout the state. The project was dedicated on September 6, 1975.

In the early 80s, the federal government was working on redesigning the reimbursement systems for hospitals. Many farsighted healthcare providers tracked their progress with great concern as the proposed changes could have far-reaching effects in the healthcare arena. Just as many of us feared, hospitals were put on a prospective payment system in 1983, and reimbursement was cut drastically. Many hospitals had to close their doors. We indeed fell upon hard times, but managed to survive through the wise management of our Board of Trustees and Administration. We looked for new revenue sources such as outpatient services, home health, companion care, outpatient specialists, and much more.

It became apparent that we did not have enough room for all of the new hospital services that were being taken on, and there was talk of yet another expansion. By this time, the hospital had begun to recover from the reimbursement issue and was financially sound. The board, who consisted of Tom Carr, Mary K. Smith, Hugh Thrasher, Shirley Kurtzhals and JB Land, and Brad Dykes, Administrator/CEO decided to embark on a $3.5 million building project. This new addition would house outpatient specialist clinic treatment rooms, a new emergency department, admitting area, and waiting rooms. The lower level houses a spacious physical therapy department, classroom, oncology area, new mechanical room, and space for future growth. The addition was completed and dedicated on March 27, 1995.

Perry County Memorial Hospital built a new, modern facility and moved to its current location at 8885 State Road 237, Tell City, in 2015.