By Sister Janet Sue Smith, ASC

As a young nurse 50 years ago this month, I joined other health care workers in the safe transfer of patients from the “old” St. Clement Hospital to the “new” St. Clement Hospital. A few patients were transferred by ambulance, most by wheelchair or stretcher or just walked with assistance, as the “new” hospital was close.

Sister Nurse Margaret Heimann, others, and I were too busy that day to witness the ceremonies marking the opening of the new St. Clement. We had scrubbed the floors, washed the windows, removed “stickers” on the equipment, and helped set up and test the new items.

The opening on December 6, 1971, of the new 100-bed St. Clement Hospital, was a beautiful climax to a long and hard five-year campaign to raise funds, and it was an important moment in Adorers’ history.

We Adorers had built the original St. Clement in 1900, which we owned and ran. In December 1971, with the help of fundraising partners, we opened the new St. Clement Hospital.

We owned and managed the “new” hospital until 2001 when Community Health Systems bought it and renamed it Red Bud Regional Hospital to serve Red Bud and the surrounding southern Illinois area. 

The days surrounding the opening were exciting. Sister Margaret Heimann was busy transferring Sister Adela Goeckner in the first ambulance transfer. I was in the second ambulance with a gentleman with an unstable heart condition. Unfortunately, he died at the end of the day. 

The Adorers, along with various lay and professional leaders from communities in the service area and government health agencies, had cooperated in a fund-raising campaign to bring about the new structure in Red Bud, Illinois.

Sister Angelita Myerscough, provincial superior, the local mayor, and a variety of faith and social leaders participated in the actual opening that had to be moved into the building due to rain.  Distinguished visitors included Sister M. Catherine Girrens, councilor on the General Team in Rome; state health department officials; and Sisters Maria De Mattei and M. Stephen White, manager of the financing and coordinator of the building program respectively. Members of the medical staff, hospital auxiliary, numerous employees, government representatives, and the main architect, William Pistrui of Pistrui and Conrad, Inc., were also present. Bishop Albert R. Zuroweste was the main speaker and was accompanied by Monsignor Clement Schindler, diocesan director of hospitals.

Much effort, time, and money was given through the support of many generous hearts in the area and at state and federal levels to establish a health care facility that would serve the future needs of the area. Not only did it provide needed health care to the area but also employment opportunities over the years.

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