With over 90,000 patients annually relying on Anderson Hospital for their health care, it is hard to imagine our community being without an area hospital. Anderson Hospital is "making a difference" today thanks to the work of many dedicated people spanning many decades.
The need for an area hospital was first voiced as far back as 1920 when Anna Forberg Cook offered to give Collinsville a site on St. Clair Avenue on which to build a hospital. But with the city unable to finance the project, the idea was withdrawn. At almost the same time, the neighboring city of Edwardsville was also trying for a hospital only to find no available financial support.
The idea was revived in the 1940's in both towns again. In Collinsville, a proposal for a township hospital, requiring taxes to build and support the facility, lost 7 to 1. In Edwardsville, a non-profit corporation was formed and a 10-acre site donated. A $300,000 fund drive was launched in 1945, but by 1948 only a quarter of the goal had been collected, so the idea was abandoned.
Edwardsville leaders resurrected the idea once more in the early 1960's with a referendum for a tax-supported hospital, but the idea never passed. At the same time leaders in Collinsville were talking about the possibility of building JFK Hospital, a satellite hospital of St. Mary's in East St. Louis. Funds were raised, and a site was purchased, only to have the idea once again fold due to the lack of support. The idea was dropped in 1967, with the land eventually becoming the site of the Unit 10's Greenwood Collinsville High School campus. Most money was received back by donors, while others "let it ride" for a new effort.
Those donors would finally support a successful campaign in 1968 when Collinsville and Edwardsville joined forces by incorporating a steering committee, the Central Madison County Hospital Association (CMCHA). The CMCHA was comprised of people from Collinsville, Edwardsville, Maryville, Troy, Hamel, Glen Carbon, and Caseyville. At that time, Aden Klump of the State Department of Public Health advised the group to seek a hospital management organization. After meetings with many hospital operating agencies, the CMCHA unanimously voted to merge with the St. Clair Hospital Association under the name of Southwestern Illinois Health Facilities, Inc. in 1969. The proposed hospital would be an affiliate of Christian Welfare Hospital in East St. Louis, which was also operated by the St. Clair Hospital Association.
A major fund-raising campaign was then conducted by Haney Associates, Inc., an area firm hired by Southwestern Illinois Health Facilities, Inc. in 1971. Paid professionals and hundreds of volunteers spent thousands of hours raising funds to meet their goal of $1 million. Some of the key volunteers who headed up the campaign were Frank L. Flanigan, of Edwardsville, who served as campaign chairman for Edwardsville, Glen Carbon, Hamel, Marine, and Troy; William G. Jokerst, of Collinsville, who served as campaign chairman for Collinsville, Caseyville, and Maryville; Earl E. Jukes, of Collinsville, who served as vice chairman of the Collinsville area campaign; and Vivian Kraft, of Collinsville, who served as general drive chairman. The work of these and hundreds of other dedicated volunteers paid off in March of 1972 when a total of $1,774,436.15 had been raised, surpassing the goal by almost three-quarters of a million dollars.
On April 21, 1974, the work of many years came one step closer to reality as ground was broken for the construction of the hospital. And almost two and a half years later, the hospital opened its doors to patients on January 5, 1977. "The hospital has become a reality," said William Jokerst back in 1976, "because of the efforts of so many people who have worked together for a common goal." Jokerst went on to say, "Selling the idea of a hospital was never difficult because the people knew the need existed. And the men, women, and organizations who made pledges have kept their word in fulfilling a moral obligation."