From humble beginnings in a frame duplex to an industry-leading, six-hospital health care system...
More than 100 years ago, CoxHealth’s story began with the generous donation of a Springfield woman’s duplex on Jefferson Avenue. Passionate about helping others, Ellen Burge dedicated her life and resources to improving the Springfield community. Her house became Burge Deaconess Hospital. The hospital opened its doors on Thanksgiving Day 1906 and almost immediately began serving patients to its full capacity. Burge’s generosity rose with the need. She purchased the adjoining lot and helped finance the building of a three-story brick hospital in 1908, remaining involved as president of the board and serving the hospital for the rest of her life.
After many years of growth, the hospital experienced financial strain and was on the verge of closing by 1948. Local businessman and community leader Lester E. Cox became involved. Cox felt that money had two main benefits beyond sustenance – providing opportunity for others and bringing people happiness. His ties to the hospital could be traced back to childhood memories of helping his mother can food and make quilts for Burge Hospital, and he decided to help.
Cox worked tirelessly to rescue the hospital and to convince others it was worth saving. He provided personal financial support and persuaded others to contribute. He served on the board and devoted his free time to the hospital. In the 20 years that Cox led the hospital as chair of the board, it went from a struggling hospital to a thriving medical institution. After his death in 1968, the hospital was renamed in his honor.
Those years marked a turning point. From 500 employees in the 1960s, we’ve grown to more than 12,000 employees today. From a single campus in North Springfield, the system now includes hospitals in South Springfield, Branson, Monett and Lamar. Once a struggling organization, CoxHealth is now able to contribute millions each year to community outreach, medical education and research, foundation grants, donations and other contributions to the community. Today, Ellen Burge’s vision remains the foundation of our system.
See our detailed timeline to learn more about our history.