Our Mission Phelps Health Foundation exists as the philanthropic arm of Phelps Health to improve the health and wellness of people in our region.
Phelps Health Foundation, established in 1996, is a 501(c) 3 organization that supports the Phelps Health mission to improve the health and wellness of people in our region and provides for the health care needs of our community through fundraising and philanthropic support for the capital and progressive initiatives of Phelps Health.
Our History A grassroots effort
Phelps Health's rich historical background began in 1949 among residents in Rolla and the surrounding communities.
A medical facility was needed in the community, so area residents and organizations in Rolla stepped up to make that happen. Through philanthropic efforts by community businesses and area residents, construction of the Phelps County Memorial Hospital, as it was called in the early years, was completed on grounds donated by the Rolla Lions Club and opened to the public on March 12, 1951.
The new hospital was reportedly completed at a cost of $1 million, which included $400,000 raised by a countywide bond issue in 1948, more than $200,000 received from the federal government and a countywide drive to collect funds from local residents. As a result of donations from local residents, an additional $25,000 was given for the construction of the hospital. The Rolla Daily News said of the donations, "Many people contributed enough money to equip an entire room (in the new hospital). Others gave larger or smaller amounts."
Prior to Phelps County Memorial Hospital’s opening, there was no other hospital facility located in the area. Therefore, the undertaking of a new hospital was a community effort, and once completed, it was a symbol of pride for the community. Upon opening, The Rolla Daily News reported, "Its (Phelps County Memorial Hospital) completion represents a long-cherished hope of many hundreds of persons of the county. It stands today as a tribute to hard work and sacrifice on the part of persons with enough civic pride and enough interest in health and welfare for themselves and their fellows to work and fight for such a facility."
Phelps County Memorial Hospital opened with 63 beds, including 15 bassinets for infants, two surgery rooms, two obstetrical rooms, a large kitchen, a laundry area and a variety of other facilities to make it an all-inclusive medical center. In 1951, the new hospital was, according to The Rolla Daily News, "one of the finest medical centers to be built in the Midwest in recent years." A staff of 65 employees, including 12 registered nurses, 14 practical nurses and nine referring physicians from the surrounding counties provided care to the hospital’s first patients.
Today, after several expansions and renovation projects, the hospital is now known as Phelps Health.
Phelps Health has grown from a small, country hospital but one thing has never changed - we are still dedicated to improving the health and wellness of people in our region. As Phelps Health and the nature of health care changes, so does the direction of Phelps Health Foundation. We continue to evolve in parallel with Phelps Health to ensure fundraising initiatives continue to meet the needs of our ever growing community.
Learn more about Phelps Health history by visiting: https://phelpshealth.org/about-phelps-health/history