O'Reilly General Hospital

O'Reilly General Hospital was an army hospital created by the U.S. Government in February 1941. It was built in Springfield, Missouri to provide long-term medical care for returning soldiers of World War II. It became known as "The hospital with a soul."

Aerial view of Hospital

History edit

Post Commander Colonel George B. Foster, Jr

In February 1941, the War Department selected the Springfield municipal golf course as the location for soon to be O'Reilly General Hospital. The city of Springfield donated the golf course to the government.[1] Adjacent to the 160-acre property was the Pythian Home of Missouri built by the Knights of Pythias.[2] The Army, using an order of immediate possession, bought the "castle" from the Knights of Pythias for $40,625 which was half of its assessed value.[3] The castle was renovated and converted into the Enlisted Men's Service Club.[2] The army built a ballroom, bowling alley and gymnasium inside of the building. Part of the basement of the castle was converted into a prison for Italian and German prisoners who required medical care.[3]

Construction of the hospital was overseen by Major Michael Grimaldi, constructing quartermaster, at a cost of almost two million dollars. Construction of the facilities was completed in four months.[4] The commander of the post was Colonel George B. Foster Jr. who declared on May 15, 1941 that it should be a "hospital with a soul."[2] The hospital got its name from former Surgeon General Robert Maitland O’Reilly.[5] It was dedicated on November 8, 1941 with room for 1,000 beds.

Interior Hallway

The hospital began to conduct training for field medics. Many of the patients treated had severe burns. The hospital began using new innovations in plastic surgery to help the burn victims. It became a primary provider of reconstructive surgery and physical therapy.[6]

During the winter of 1944, area residents worked to makes sure all the patients in the hospital had Christmas presents.[7]

After the war edit

At the end of the war, the hospital was placed on the army's list of surplus hospitals and was closed on September 30, 1946.[3][8] The Veterans Administration immediately expressed interest in operating the facility.[8] The United States Veterans Administration reopened it in February 1947. They closed it down again in August 1952. It was again declared surplus property by the government.[9] The site remained unused until the General Council of the Assemblies of God bought most of the property in December 1954 for the construction of the university.[2][3] The remaining part of the grounds are now the armory for the Army reserve and National Guard.

Faculties edit

The army initially built 91 buildings for the hospital. It was eventually expanded to 258 buildings and 3,426 beds.[5] They offered an occupation classes for staff and patients to learn new skills and take high-school exams.

Location edit

It was built between the roads of Division and Glenstone Avenue. The location is now occupied by the Army Reserve, Army National Guard and Evangel University.[2]

Legacy edit

The United States Army Surgeon General recognized the army hospital as the "best in the Nation."[2] Over 100,000 patients were treated over its five-year period of operation. The hospital became a model for other army hospitals. The average cost per patient was five dollars a day.[7] Average recovery time dropped to 24 days from and average of 35 days.[5]

References edit

  1. ^ "29 Jan 1941, Page 1 - The Sedalia Democrat at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Glenn, Michael. "O'Reilly General Hospital -- Springfield's Hospital With a Soul". thelibrary.org. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  3. ^ a b c d Johns, Paul (October 2011). "The castle and the Army hospital". CCHeadliner.com. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  4. ^ "15 Aug 1941, Page 2 - The Neosho Daily News at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-09-17.
  5. ^ a b c O'Dell, Kathleen (December 21, 2016). "O'Reilly General Army Hospital crown jewel of World War II army hospitals". Springfield News-Leader. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  6. ^ Carter, Thomas A (2012), O'Reilly General Hospital: the hospital with a soul, Ozarks Public Television, OCLC 793394285
  7. ^ a b Rutherford, John (February 2002). "O'Reilly General Hospital Of Springfield Missouri". thelibrary.org. Retrieved 2017-09-16.
  8. ^ a b "9 Jul 1946, Page 3 - The Daily Capital News at Newspapers.com". Newspapers.com. Retrieved 2019-09-16.
  9. ^ "History - Evangel University | Springfield, MO | Missouri Christian Colleges". Evangel University. Retrieved 2017-09-18.