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CMH breaks ground for hospital expansion

Citizens Memorial Hospital broke ground Thursday, Sept. 28, for a $100 million hospital expansion on the 41st anniversary of the hospital’s opening in 1982.

State and local officials spoke to 600 people at the history-making event, with an additional 400 people watching the ceremony live online. Featured speakers included Missouri Governor Michael L. Parson and Kyle Wilkins, state director of Rural Development – Missouri with the U.S. Department of Rural Development.

The facility includes an expansion of the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, surgical area and cath lab, along with private inpatient rooms, a new Birth Place, kitchen and cafeteria.

“The support of this community has always provided the foundation for our incredible growth and success, and it provides the foundation for this project,” Pat Douglas, chairman of the CMH Board of Directors, told the crowd. “The Board of Directors believes this project is critical to our ability to continue our success for the next generation. The scope of this expansion is almost like a new hospital.”

A video with highlights of the groundbreaking ceremony is available at

USDA partnership

The total cost of the 117,000-square-foot, three-story expansion is $100 million, including $84 million in construction costs USDA Rural Development has invested $64 million in this project through 35-year low-interest loans.

USDA Rural Development’s partnership with Citizens Memorial Hospital goes back to 1980. Previous USDA investments in CMH include the original hospital, the Douglas Medical Center, Bolivar Technical College building, Lake Stockton Health Care Facility and Willard Medical Center.

Kyle Wilkins, state director for Rural Development-Missouri with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, talked about CMH's impact on rural communities.

“It’s our greatest privilege at USDA Rural Development here in Missouri to support Citizens Memorial Hospital’s incredible transformation,” Wilkins said. “I believe that CMH will be the site of many more miracles of healing and play a vital role in helping sustain its surrounding rural communities.”

Local banks assisting with the remaining financing include UMB Bank, Bank of Missouri, Mid-Missouri Bank, O’Bannon Bank and Lime Bank.

Looking back

Missouri Governor Michael Parson delivered special greetings during the ceremony. He recounted how far away medical care was as a child in Hickory County, north of Bolivar. CMH made medical care more accessible, though he never thought he would go to the hospital as a patient. Yet, six years ago, he was at CMH when he found out he would have open heart surgery with five bypasses.

“I really credit this facility for saving my life,” he said. “It’s our job to make sure that our kids and our grandkids have the same services, the same opportunities for health care that we’ve all had to enjoy right here at CMH.”

Kerry Douglas, a founding member of the CMH Board of Directors, reflected on the challenges of opening CMH in 1982.

“It’s an interesting story of dreams, of struggles, of intrigue, of setbacks, of creativity, to overcome those setbacks and ultimately success,” he said. “We are here today because of the foresight and work and effort of so many people, many of whom have gone before us.”

Linda Buffington, a labor and delivery nurse when the hospital opened, spoke about the caring staff at CMH. 

“The staff that began 41 years ago had the desire and dedication to provide caring and quality care for our community,” she said. “We spent many hours together. Sometimes laughter, sometimes tears. We felt that we were an extended family for our community. As we grow as an organization, may we continue to experience that kind of dedication and caring attitude for our community.”

Michael Calhoun, CMH and CMH Foundation CEO/executive director, recognized founding CEO Donald J. Babb with the naming of the facility as the Donald J. Babb Medical Center.

“CMH has grown from a small rural hospital to a regional comprehensive health care organization. A significant reason for this is the tremendous vision of our founding CEO, Mr. Donald J. Babb,” Calhoun said. “Mr. Babb also had a vision for this hospital expansion project, and many of the ideas that went into this project originally came from planning work that he started as CEO.”

In Babb’s remarks after the announcement, he said that naming the facility after him is a great honor.

“I’m very thankful to the board and to Mike and to everyone involved,” he said. “I am excited about the future. I think we have a great team, and I see that team continuing to grow every day and a team that really is taking ownership of being a part of what’s being done here.”

Looking to the future

Shannon Calvert, M.D., represented the medical staff as president of the CMH Medical Staff. She spoke about how the ceremony represents a physical expansion and the medical staff’s commitment to healing and caring for the community.

“We envision a healthcare facility that will not only meet the immediate needs of our patients but will also serve as a beacon of hope for generations to come,” said Shannon Calvert, M.D., president of the CMH Medical Staff. “It will be a place where medical breakthroughs happen, where patients find comfort and where families find hope.”

Calhoun thanked the crowd for the community support as he shared his vision for CMH.

“I’m overwhelmed by this support and know that’s essential to our success as an organization,” he said. “As CMH moves into the future, we have a continued vision to provide exceptional care for the communities we serve. We aspire to be the safest place for health care, to provide the highest quality care, and to provide the very best patient experience.

“Today, we celebrate the new facility, but more importantly, we are celebrating our people that provide these services and we’re celebrating the community that entrusts us with their care.”

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