Richland County has deeply seeded roots as a center for healthcare services. The tradition began when Dr. George T. Weber opened the Olney Sanitarium in 1898. As a boy, Dr. Weber lost two of his younger brothers and watched his mother suffer from an extended illness. This sparked his desire to practice medicine. He started “The Old San” with only 15 beds. He was later joined by brothers, Frank, Neal and James, as well as two sisters, Katharina and Minnie. Together, they established the Sanitarium as one of the most highly esteemed hospitals and schools of nursing in the Midwest during that period of time.
Successor to the Olney Sanitarium, Richland Memorial Hospital opened its doors on July 16, 1953. The total cost to build and equip the facility was well over $2 million. It was constructed with the aid of Hill-Burton funds and a bond issue by Richland County. The first administrator was Stuart A. Short, Sr., who had been the hospital consultant during the construction. It had 112 beds, as well as 14 newborn bassinets.
Until 1997, Richland Memorial Hospital was a county-owned hospital. After much discussion and recognizing the restrictions under which public hospitals are operated, the County Board and hospital officials decided it would be mutually beneficial for the hospital to break away as a separate, not-for-profit, 501 c (3) organization, which would become known as Richland Memorial Hospital, Inc. A separate, volunteer Board of Directors was established for the new corporation. The County then entered into an Operating Lease Agreement with the newly formed Richland Memorial Hospital, Inc., thereby retaining ownership of the building but assigning operating control to the not-for-profit corporation.
In 2003, the Board of Directors of Richland Memorial Hospital, Inc. began discussions with the County Board about purchasing the building. Complete ownership of the hospital was transferred to Richland Memorial Hospital, Inc. in January of 2005.
Richland Memorial Hospital began its relationship with The Carle Foundation Hospital in Urbana in 2014 as a Clinical Affiliate. In 2016, Carle and Richland Memorial began exploring the possibility of full integration to further expand access to healthcare services and providers in Southeastern Illinois. The Richland Memorial Hospital, Inc. Board of Directors voted unanimously on February 28, 2017 to integrate with Carle. Carle’s Board unanimously approved the integration on March 13, 2017. Integration became official on April 1, 2017, and the facility is now known as Carle Richland Memorial Hospital. It continues to be governed by a local Board of Directors, along with representation from Carle. Administration, management and operations also remain local with resources and oversight provided by Carle, so we remain aligned in our Mission and Vision.