Mercy Hospital, Mt. Vernon, Ohio

Posted by Kelly McDaniels

September 10, 2020

SCN Archivist Kathy Hertel-Baker shares the following on Mercy Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Ohio:

The original Mercy Hospital building

Mercy Hospital opened on September 1, 1919 in Mt. Vernon, Ohio, a town fifty miles northeast of Columbus. Dr. James Lee, a local physician, Rev. Lawrence Mulhane, pastor of St. Vincent De Paul Church, and Mrs. Judson Hinde-Ball all played roles in the founding of the Catholic hospital.  

Photos from the construction of the 1953 addition to Mercy Hospital

In 1896, George Ball, son and only child of Mr. and Mrs. Judson Ball, died leaving his parents inconsolable. Mrs. Ball found comfort in the thought that a memorial to her son could benefit others as well. When in 1913, Mr. Ball died, she gave full attention to the anticipated project determined to see a hospital materialize and her son and husband honored.  

Dining services at Mercy Hospital in the 1950s

Dr. James Lee, a local physician, presented the idea of a Catholic hospital to Mrs. Hinde­Ball. She did not believe a Catholic hospital possible due to pockets of anti-Catholic prejudice in the area. She advised Dr. Lee to speak to Rev. Lawrence Mulhane. The priest favored a hospital and suggested that the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth be asked to staff it. The SCN Community had experience administering hospitals and caring for the sick. At Nazareth, Mother Rose Meagher and her Council deliberated and agreed to staff the hospital.  

The nursery at Mercy Hospital, c. 1960

Property, purchased at $15,000, by Mrs. Hinde-Ball, and financial gifts from donors, secured the land. The hospital was built and equipped at a cost of $78,295.00. Mrs. Hinde-Ball later deeded her farm to Nazareth as an endowment to the Hospital. Continued donations assisted the Sisters in paying their debts. Generous donors included: Rev. Lawrence Mulhane; Michael W. Saunders, Cleveland, Ohio; Boyle family, Mt. Vernon, Ohio; Nazareth and its branch houses.  

The operating room at Mercy Hospital in the 1950s

Mrs. Hinde-Ball wanted the hospital named ‘Hinde-Ball Mercy Hospital’. Most Rev. James J. Hartley, Bishop of Columbus blessed the new hospital on November 3, 1919. He had requested of Mrs. Hinde-Ball that the Hospital be named Our Lady of Mercy and she agreed. Our Lady of Mercy was gradually dropped to simply Mercy Hospital. When the hospital first opened, local citizens were slow to trust in its services. Many waited to be admitted until they were critical and near death. This may have been a result of anti-­Catholicism and the culture of the day that hesitated to make use of hospital care.  

The Mercy Hospital float in a parade in Mt. Vernon, Ohio in the 1950s

Sister Angela Strain, superior, also functioned as administrator of the new hospital, assisted by: Sisters: Ann Elizabeth Griffin, Mary Egidia Boylan, Martha O’Hare, and Mary Cassilda Stey. The hospital was a welcomed employer for Mt. Vernon. 

A patient room at Mercy Hospital in the 1950s

The first patients were three women. True, however, to Mrs. Hinde-Ball’s initial fear of a lack of patients due to anti-Catholic prejudice, Mercy patient census did not grow at a fast rate. Gradually, local citizens began to trust the Sisters and the hospital. The census increased. Total patient census in 1935 numbered 1,225 and in 1943 the number rose to 2,888.  

The Mercy Hospital pharmacy in the 1950s

In September 1931, a new addition to the hospital was added. The new wing consisted of ten rooms and a laboratory. The annals reported: “Three of these rooms are equipped with private baths, have electric lights, and other amenities. In 1938, ground was broken for another addition to Mercy: new wings provided a hospital chapel, a new maternity ward, laboratories, and operating rooms.  

SCNs in the Chapel at Mercy Hospital in the 1950s

Mercy continued to provide health care for the citizens of Mt. Vernon and Knox County. On Monday, September I, 1969 Mercy celebrated fifty years of service. The entire staff numbered 350 employees and the motto on the Coat of Arms, displayed in the local newspaper, explained the mission: People Caring about People and People Caring for People.  

An x-ray machine at Mercy Hospital in the 1950s

Mercy merged with Brett Memorial Hospital in September 1978. This merger created a single site for Knox County residents to obtain hospital services. One of the results of the merger was a loss of the Sisters from the merged hospital. 

(Featured image at the top of the story shows Mercy Hospital in 1953.)

4 Comments

  1. Lynn Beam

    Many visits to friends. Meals On Wheels -picked up our meals here to deliver to various needy. Beautiful architecture as well.

    Reply
  2. Vickie Clawson Adams

    I believe the name of the other hospital was Burt W Martin Memorial Hospital. That’s where I started my career in January of 1975.
    We combined in 1978 and moved to the location in August 1983. So I joke that I came with the building.
    I had the pleasure of working with many wonderful people over my 47+ years including Cathy Barnes when I made my transfer to the surgery department at KCH.
    Thank you for publishing this article and pictures.

    Reply
  3. Vickie Clawson Adams

    I believe the name of the other hospital was Burt W Martin Memorial Hospital. That’s where I started my career in January of 1975.
    We combined in 1978 and moved to the location in August 1983. So I joke that I came with the building.
    I had the pleasure of working with many wonderful people over my 47+ years including the above Cathy Barnes when I made my transfer to the surgery department at KCH.
    Thank you for publishing this article and pictures.

    Reply
  4. Cathy ( Campbell) Beach Barnes RN( CNOR RNFA)

    Love the picture of Dr. Drake in the OR .That is where I started my nursing career ( that was more than a few years ago). Thanks for sharing!

    Reply

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