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Phelps Memorial Health Center celebrated 55 years on April 28.  Employees gathered for cake and refreshments and Loren Schroder, Chief Financial Officer, gave a program with some highlights of the history of the hospital.

“I’ve had the privilege of being a member of the PMHC Team for over 30 years and it’s amazing to see what this organization has become and accomplished over its 55-year history,” said Mr. Schroder.  He added, “As the CFO, I’m very proud of the financial success we’ve had over the years, but this is a people business and the true success of PMHC is due to the people who’ve come before us and the people here today who are continuing the work providing the highest quality medical care to our community.” 

In 1960, a group of community members had a vision and the determination to make a community hospital a reality.  The grand opening of Phelps Memorial Health Center was on April 28, 1968, and an estimated 5,000 people toured the hospital during the open house.  There were no houses around the nearby street and cars were parked blocks away to attend the event. 

As reported in the Holdrege Daily Citizen in 1968, Richard C. Brown, President of the hospital board, said “This is a red letter day in this community.  It marks the culmination of the effort started in 1960.”

He said the hospital is a first-rate facility and challenged any community of comparable size to come up with anything better. In addition, he said, “Now we need to dedicate ourselves to operating it as a first-rate facility.  Make it do the job it was meant to do.  It should do a number one job.” 

Facts about PMHC:  

  • The hospital opened with 35 nursing staff.
  • There were a total of 64 people employed when the doors opened. 
  • The hospital had 2 OR rooms, one delivery room, and two labor rooms.
  • PMHC opened with 55 beds.
  • Dr. Walter Reiner was the president of the medical staff.
  • Rex Kelly led hospital operations for 25 years as CEO, followed by Jay Siegfried, Joyce Hein, and Mark Harrel (current CEO).

Mr. Schroder told attendees that the first patient admitted to Phelps Memorial was Annie Malm.  Miss Malm donated land in 1963 in memory of her brother and sister to the hospital.  This was the first large gift to the hospital and was a very important beginning to the fundraising efforts. 

Phelps Memorial celebrated its 25th anniversary in 1993.  At that time, they were the second largest employer in the community with 175 employees.

As reported in the Holdrege Daily Citizen in 1993, when asked if he thought the hospital would last a quarter of a century, former Board of Directors President Ralph Misko said “Oh yes, definitely. There was a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for it to begin with and with the momentum that they had, there was no doubt in my mind it would last at least 25-50 years.” 

Mr. Misko explained his feeling about what a hospital should be: “It should be like what a hospital was intended to be: to take care of the disabled, the sick, to take care of certain treatments and so on.”  

Mr. Schroder said, “Here we are in 2023 celebrating our 55 anniversary.  PMHC has become more than the founders probably ever imagined.” 

Facts about the current facility:

  • PMHC employs 320 healthcare professionals and contracts with an additional 150.
  • We have one teammate with 40 years of service and another who will reach that milestone in May. Three teammates 35+ years of service, 9 teammates with 30+ years, 10 with 25+ years, 17 with 20+ years, 23 with 15+ years, 26 with 10+ years. Almost 1/3 of our workforce has been employed over 10 years.

Mr. Schroder stated, “The growth of the hospital in the past 55 years is pretty amazing.”

New services over the last few years including oncology, cardiology, expanded surgery services provide care for patients. PMHC also brings 28 specialists to the community each month to keep services close to home for the community.

In the past year, Phelps Memorial Health Center has received:

  • The Gallup Exceptional Workplace Award for the 4rd consecutive year
  • Performance Leadership Award for excellence by the Chartis Center for Rural Health
  • Designated a 2023 Top 100 Critical Access Hospital for the 7th consecutive year

“Our success is built on the people who provide the quality and patients experience of the services we provide,” said Mr. Schroder. “I want to thank our outstanding Board of Directors, Medical Staff, and all of Team Phelps for living our tagline of providing ‘Care you deserve by experts you trust.’”