Before 1958, the Macomb, IL community was served by three hospitals, Marietta Phelps Hospital, Holmes Hospital, and largely by St. Francis Hospital. St. Francis Hospital opened in 1903 and was run by the Sisters of St. Francis. The hospital was very successful and was considered to be one of the best in the state. In twenty-five years the hospital grew from the original 25 beds to 100 beds.
In 1954, the local community was polled by mail to determine the community's choice of either spending $264,000 for a revision of St. Francis Hospital, or spending $1,000,000 to build a new hospital. The postal poll showed an overwhelming majority wanted a new community hospital and a subsequent referendum authorized the establishment of McDonough District Hospital.
On June 16, 1955, in the McDonough County Courthouse, Judge E.D. Grigsby administered the oath of office to the nine people he had selected to become directors of the proposed hospital district. At this first meeting, the newly created Board of Directors adopted ordinances to determine the district's fiscal and corporate year and bylaws governing the McDonough County Hospital District.
A ten-acre site had been purchased for $20,000 from Mrs. Blanche Sears on the southeast edge of Macomb. Financing of the project was provided by a Federal Government Grant under the Hill-Burton program for $506,000 and by the issuance of $1,680,000 in general obligation bonds. The hospital's first administrator, Earl G. Dresser, assumed his duties in June of 1956.
After a full year of planning and preliminary activities, groundbreaking ceremonies for the proposed facility were held on June 30, 1956. Of the hospital's 104 beds, 16 were in obstetrics, 8 in pediatrics, and 80 in the medical and surgical units (47 double and 10 private rooms).
On June 6, 1957, there was a cornerstone laying for the new hospital. The stone itself was made of Indiana limestone and inside were placed items of historical interest. Also in this month, with 140 women present, the first hospital Auxiliary meeting was held.
On June 30, 1958, exactly two years from its ground breaking ceremony, McDonough District Hospital opened its doors.