For many years, Fairbury and Jefferson County were served by two privately owned hospitals operated in conjunction with the medical clinics at Fairbury and surrounding communities. As outlying communities began losing their physicians and Fairbury became more and more the health center for these communities, the need for expanded hospital facilities became more apparent.
A public effort began in the 1950s. Jefferson County Memorial Hospital Inc. (now Jefferson Community Health Center Inc.) was incorporated in 1960. The first board included: E.C. Krueger, president; Mrs. H.B. Boyden, vice president; Ivan Riley, treasurer; and Robert Denney, secretary; Morris Speir; Margaret Howell; Roy Schainost; Ernest Kriesel; Harold Hummel; LaRue Beachler; Allen Tintsman; Robert Pearson; Clarence Henkel; Florence Milne; I.E. Tilger; and Max Logan.
The first meeting of the board of directors was held on Jan. 11, 1961. An option was entered into for an acreage for a hospital site in the McLucas Subdivision of Fairbury. A hospital consultant was employed, an architectural firm was hired, and an application for Hill-Burton funds was made. In March 1962 bids were opened and contracts were let to start the hospital building program.
Due to a special gift designated for a nursing home, the plan to add a nursing home wing was incorporated into the building plans and became part of the program.
Ground-breaking was April 24, 1962. Construction of the 28-bed hospital and 33-bed nursing home was complete Sept. 15, 1963. The facility was dedicated Sept. 22, 1963. Architects were Helleberg and Helleberg of Kearney. The hospital and nursing home began operating in October of that year.
Changes to the facility include:
- 1968 – Addition of south wing, increasing hospital capacity by 21 beds to 49 beds;
- 1970 – Addition of administrator’s office, conference room, and business office space;
- 1978 – Expansion of physical therapy area;
- 1983 – Addition of eight-bed wing to nursing home, bringing total to 41 nursing home beds;
- 1988 – Expansion of nursing home dining room, addition to laundry area;
- 1995 – Renovation of emergency and obstetrics departments and outpatient clinics;
- 1996 – Addition of Bob and Wauneta Burkley Wellness Center, new occupational therapy area, expanded physical therapy area, new front entrance and waiting area.
- 2000 – Became a Critical Access Hospital, a special designation which helps gives rural hospitals a different type of reimbursement. This change did not affect services offered, and will improve the long-term financial strength of JCHC.
- 2001 – Began design process for the 42-unit Cedarwood assisted living facility, The facility is a private not-for-profit joint venture between JCHC and BryanLGH. It is be governed by the Cedarwood board of directors, made up of equal representation from JCHC and BryanLGH.
- 2004 – Completed Cedarwood Assisted Living on the JCHC campus
- 2005 – Completed major remodeling of radiology department and cafeteria
- 2006 – Remodeling at Gardenside long-term care.
- 2007 — Addition of new surgical addition began.
- 2009- Surgical addition complete.
- 2013- 8 unit addition to Cedarwood completed; renovation of hospital patient rooms began.
- 2015 – $8 million renovation completed, including renovating all patient rooms to private rooms with handicapped accessible restrooms and private showers; relocated and improving patient accessibility and work flow of radiology, pharmacy, laboratory, and respiratory services; renovating therapy area, business office and main lobby; relocating and renovating administrative offices, health information services, and human resources offices; and relocating and renovation conference rooms. Reduced licensure to 17 beds for acute care.