The Sisters of Mercy founded Springfield’s first hospital in 1891, coming to town at the request of a local physician. The first facility was an eight-room home that served as both the hospital and the convent. The heritage goes back more than 185 years. It began with an Irish woman named Catherine McAuley, who wanted to help the poor women and children of Dublin. Though Catherine had a modest upbringing, she received an unexpected inheritance that allowed her to fulfill her dreams. In 1827, she opened the first House of Mercy in Dublin, intending to teach skills to poor women and educate children. Many volunteers came to help.
A few years later, Catherine founded the Sisters of Mercy, the first religious order not bound to the rules of the cloister, whose Sisters were free to walk among the poor and visit them in their homes. By the time Catherine died in 1841, there were convents in Ireland and England, and in 1843, the Sisters of Mercy came to the United States. In 1871, they traveled to St. Louis and from there throughout the Midwest, beginning what would, today be known as Mercy.
Mercy, named one of the top five large U.S. health systems in 2017 by Truven, an IBM Watson Health company, serves millions annually. Mercy includes 44 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, more than 700 physician practices and outpatient facilities, 40,000 co-workers and more than 2,000 Mercy Clinic physicians in Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.