When the John and Mary E. Kirby Hospital opened its doors in 1941, it quickly became a landmark in the local community, rooted in strong service and dedicated to healthcare excellence. Times may have changed, but over the past 75 years, we’ve remained committed to patient-centered care, the latest in medical technology and ongoing community outreach.
During this 75th anniversary, we want to thank our caregivers and staff, The Kirby Foundation, our patients and members of the community for their unwavering support and dedication to our mission of providing the best care, right here in Piatt County. We take pride in remembering our past, and we look forward to a strong future together.
Take a Step Back in Time…
From humble beginnings in Ireland, John Kirby rose to become one of the most generous, progressive and influential members of our community. As we celebrate our 75th Anniversary, we pause to remember our roots and appreciate the hard work and dedication that has made Kirby Medical Center the distinguished, local healthcare organization it is today.
December 8, 1842
John Kirby is born in County Limerick, Ireland.
After the death of his mother, John Kirby, along with his father and two brothers, moves to Springfield, OH.
Kirby moves in with a neighboring farm family, the McCoys.
The McCoys move to Illinois to settle near Decatur, and Kirby joins them.
Kirby enlists in Company F of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry Regiment at the beginning of the Civil War. He serves with Grant at the Siege of Vicksburg and in Louisiana before being discharged at the end of the war.
January 21, 1873
Kirby marries Mary E. Marquiss, the granddaughter of the founder of Monticello, IL. The couple has two children, but one dies in infancy.
John and Mary Kirby and their daughter Nell retire from agricultural labors and move to Monticello, where they reside in a stately family mansion.
October 10, 1919
John Kirby dies in Monticello. His will states that the City of Monticello will receive the Kirby mansion and $100,000 upon the death of his wife, Mary. The money and residence are to be used to establish the John and Mary E. Kirby Hospital.
December 7, 1938
Mary Kirby dies.
September 22, 1939
Nell M. England (daughter of John and Mary Kirby), W.H. England, Maxwell R. Hott, Bela M. Stoddard and Herbert Mohler are appointed directors for the hospital.
September 25, 1939
Certificate of Incorporation No. 8903 is issued by Illinois Secretary of State Edward J. Hughes to the John and Mary Kirby Hospital as a corporation not for pecuniary profit.
September 26, 1939
Madora B. Moore and Allen F. Moore convey their home and estate surrounding it to the John and Mary Kirby Hospital.
Contract let to Hagerman & Harshman of Sullivan, IL, for the remodeling of the Moore residence into a hospital facility.
Welcome to 1941
Thousands crowded the halls to tour the new John and Mary E. Kirby Hospital when it officially opened its doors in January 1941 with a staff of 15 doctors, four nurses and eight service employees. There were undoubtedly many “oohs” and “aahs” as Piatt County residents viewed the luxurious and modern amenities, including tilting mattresses, six fireplaces, decoratively carved ceilings and “un-hospital” rooms filled with Chippendale furniture. The landscaped grounds featured a courtyard and fish pool surrounded by pathways for roaming patients, employees and guests.
Kirby offered the latest medical technology and highest standards of care with stainless-steel operating equipment, repositionable operating tables, one of only two electric dishwashers in town and an array of electric lights (bed lights, door lights, hall lights, infra-red rays, ultra-violet rays and even floor lights).
Not many of us remember 1941, and the details might sound quaint now in 2016. What was life like when the hospital first opened? Take a step back in time…
- A New House: $4,075
- Annual Wages: $1,750
- A Gallon of Gas: $0.12
- A New Car: $850
- A Postage Stamp: $0.03
- World Series Champions: New York Yankees
- Popular Songs: “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Glenn Miller and “Green Eyes” by Jimmy Dorsey
- Popular Movies: “Dumbo” and “The Maltese Falcon”
- Although television is not yet a household staple, drive-in movie theaters are all the rage, and fast food restaurants are increasing in popularity. The frugalness of the Great Depression is renewed in the face of World War II, but modern conveniences such as refrigerators and indoor plumbing are changing the American lifestyle forever.
- President: Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Hourly minimum wage: $0.30
- Population: 133.4 million
- World War II is escalating in Europe, and by the end of the year, the United States is in the thick of it after the attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. The passing of bills to support allied countries and veterans reflects the nation’s collective consciousness towards impending military action.
- Thanksgiving is officially celebrated on the fourth Thursday of the month to allow more time for holiday shopping.
- Paul Simon, Martha Stewart, Bob Dylan, Jesse Jackson and Otis Redding are all born in 1941.
- “Citizen Kane” is a flop at theatres, but goes on to be regarded as one of the best films of all time.
- Franklin D. Roosevelt is Time’s Man of the Year for the third time.
- The first television commercial airs – a 10-second ad costing around $7.00 for Bulova watches.
- Scientists develop a means of mass producing penicillin, which leads to a less than 1% death rate from bacterial pneumonia among soldiers (compared to 18% during WWI).
- Fear of serious health complications and death from polio, tuberculosis and syphilis are still very real and prevalent.
- Smoking is allowed (and sometimes even encouraged) in hospitals but frowned upon around new babies and oxygen tanks.
- It is common for hospitals to be segregated by race, religion and gender.
- Long hospital stays are the norm, with new mothers spending a week or more in the maternity ward, although around half of births still happen at home.
- Plastics are not yet used, and glass syringes and IV bottles and must be sterilized for reuse.
January 20, 1941
The first patient is admitted to the John and Mary E. Kirby Hospital. Medical staff includes 15 doctors, four registered nurses and eight employees in the service departments.
World War II
Dr. Abe D. Furry becomes the only physician left at the hospital during most of the war.
February 4, 1950
Nell M. England dies and leaves her entire estate to the hospital.
Over the years, the Kirby Auxiliary has gradually ceased activity until hospital administrator Tom Dixon approaches Lois Crouse with the idea of reactivating the Auxiliary.
Because of an acute shortage of nursing home beds in the county, a 63-bed nursing home is built next to the hospital. Auxiliary members assist with the opening of the nursing home.
Kirby Ambulance Service begins.
Five years after the new nursing home was erected, the aging, original hospital building has to be replaced in order to meet new state and federal accreditation standards. The hospital sells the nursing home annex to Piatt County to help finance a new John and Mary E. Kirby Hospital, which is built on the same site as the old hospital.
A memorial fund is established to provide Auxiliary scholarships to Piatt County students who are furthering their education in health-related fields.
January 1, 1986
Due to changes in the insurance industry, Kirby closes its obstetrics department. Over the years, Kirby’s obstetrics staff delivered 4,635 babies, the first being John Kirby Chaney in 1941 and the last being Matthew Walters on December 31, 1985.
Kirby celebrates the 50th anniversary of the founding of their not-for-profit corporation in 1939. Over the last 50 years there have been 39,389 admissions, a total of 307,184 days spent in the hospital and 302,204 outpatient visits.
A renovation of the hospital is complete with the addition of two private rooms and a renovation of the Laboratory and Emergency Departments.
Kirby receives the Press Ganey Compass Award - Inpatient Services: Recognizing Outstanding Performance Improvement in Patient Satisfaction.
Kirby receives the Press Ganey Summit Award - Emergency Department, which is awarded to hospitals achieving 95 percent or higher patient satisfaction for three or more consecutive years. Kirby goes on to receive the award again for the Emergency Department in 2007, 2008 and 2012.
September 29, 2011
The new Kirby Medical Center begins providing care at its current location at 1000 Medical Center Drive in Monticello after receiving over $3 million in donated gifts and pledges and acquiring 108 acres of property along Interstate 72.
The Volunteer Corp is established, which is a subset of Kirby’s 200 plus member strong Auxiliary.
Becker’s Infection Control & Clinical Quality names Kirby Medical Center in the top 52 hospitals with the cleanest patient rooms, with the national average at 74 percent and Kirby achieving 93 percent.
The Kirby Auxiliary donates $16,000 toward the hospital’s purchase of a new ambulance.
The first phase of the Wellness Trail, a one-mile stretch of pathways, opens to the public with the support of over $500,000 in private, tax-deductible gifts.