One Solid Comfort the history of Mercy Medical Center – Centerville
Contact us for a copy of the book



Peatman House Hospital 1916 Nurses 1924 Nurses 1953 Hospital 1950s Hospital 2010

Peatman House

Established in 1902 on South Main Street and opened in 1903

Hospital 1916

Under the direction of the Sisters of Mercy, the hospital grew and flourished with the building of the new four story hospital in 1916

Nurses 1924


Nurses 1953


Hospital 1950s


Hospital 2010

Current modern facility located north of Centerville built in 1979 

Mercy Medical Center-Centerville, one of Iowa’s oldest continually operating hospitals is also one of Iowa’s finest and busiest rural hospitals. In fiscal year 2012, the hospital saw over 150,000 total inpatient and outpatient visits. Mercy-Centerville is a subsidiary corporation of Mercy Medical Center, Des Moines, IA, and a member of Catholic Health Initiatives, Denver, CO.

In September 2010, Mercy Medical Center, formerly St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital in Centerville, Iowa celebrated its centennial year — 100 years of compassionate care to Centerville, Appanoose County and the surrounding area in southern Iowa and northern Missouri.

A full history of the hospital, with many other interesting facts and personalities was published for the occasion along with an evening of memories, Mass of celebration, rededication ceremony and reception, attended by over 500 people. A special historical exhibit on the hospital’s history was also opened for viewing at the Appanoose County Historical Museum.

The hospital’s origin was the “Centerville Hospital”, established in 1902 when a group of doctors and a progressive group of women raised $4500 to purchase the Peatman House on South Main Street which opened to the public in 1903.

The hospital quickly outgrew itself and outstanding indebtedness plagued the hospital. In 1909, the need for more space coupled with state regulations requiring teaching hospitals like the Centerville Hospital to have twenty five beds, became a problem for the hospital which depended on their school of nursing for staff. The hospital board of directors sought ways to help secure a larger and more financially stable hospital.

Although the Iowa legislature had recently passed a law that allowed counties to establish county hospitals that would be supported by tax payers, the board found little support for this among the farmers. When little came of this initiative, representatives of the hospital board contacted the Sisters of Mercy in Omaha, NE about the possibility of taking over management of the Centerville Hospital.

The board of directors was impressed with the Sisters who had a proven track record for managing hospital operations. Wherever they went, they stayed and built up the institutions entrusted to them, serving the general good of the community.

On March 1, 1910, the Sisters of Mercy arrived in Centerville and took ownership and oversight for the Centerville Hospital. The name of the hospital was changed to St. Joseph’s Mercy Hospital. Under the direction of the Sisters, the hospital grew and flourished with the building of a new four story hospital in 1916, an addition in 1956 and finally a new modern facility located north of Centerville that was built in 1979. The ecumenical spirit of the Sisters and their partnership with the community established a strong allegiance to the hospital which continues today.

History of the Sisters of Mercy

Mother Mary Catherine McAuley, who along with a group of young women established a House of Mercy in Dublin, Ireland in 1827, founded the Religious Order of the Sisters of Mercy (RSM). Their mission was to provide shelter and education to young, unemployed women. Mother McAuley and her co-workers soon extended their work to the care of orphans, education of children and the care of the sick and aged.

The Sisters of Mercy, at the request of the Bishops of America, came to the United States in 1840 and established their first convent in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The community grew rapidly and convents of Mercy soon spread throughout the country. There are currently nine provinces of the Sisters of Mercy in the United State and the Province Genera late is located in Maryland.

Sister Evangelist Claherty and Sister Alacoque Lannan, from the Mercy order in Council Bluffs, IA came to Centerville, Iowa in September of 1910 and took over management of the Centerville Hospital.

Mercy Medical Center - Centerville is owned by Mercy Medical Center - Des Moines, Iowa and is a member of the Mercy Health Network of Iowa and Catholic Health Initiatives.