The History of Story County Medical Center

Old San

The Iowa Sanitarium of the Seventh Day Adventists predated Story County Medical Center as the first hospital in Nevada, IA. “Old San," as it was called, served residents from 1909 until it was destroyed by fire in 1943. In 1944, local citizens passed a $100,000 bond issue to build a new, non-profit facility. However, because of a shortage of raw materials and the post-war economy, construction was delayed until August 1950, when the cornerstone for the Story County Hospital was laid. On September 10, 1951, the hospital officially opened.


The hospital added its first long-term care addition in 1969, made possible through a $154,000 donation from Reine Wells. In 1977, a $400,000 gift from Edith Robison made a second floor long-term care addition and chapel possible. With the long-term care additions, the hospital’s main entrance moved from the east to the south side. In 1970, the hospital added its own ambulance service which previously had been provided by area funeral homes.

Through the 1970s the hospital experienced growth, but like most rural facilities, faced uncertain times in the 1980s. Changes in the Medicare reimbursement system reduced funding, and budgets were tight. Also, there was a shortage of physicians throughout the entire country. In 1988 the hospital entered into a management agreement with Mercy Medical Center of Des Moines which helped ensure that health care would continue to be  accessible and convenient for all of Story County.

Critical Access Hospital Status

In the summer of 2001, Story County Hospital applied to the state of Iowa to become a “necessary provider,” the first step in becoming a Critical Access Hospital. The Board of Trustees carefully weighed the risks and benefits of Critical Access Hospital conversion. Although the hospital would experience increased reimbursement, it had to agree to reduce the number of acute care beds it offered and the type of patients it could treat. In the end, the projected financial benefits outweighed the risks. Following a busy summer bringing the hospital into compliance with Critical Access Hospital standards, the hospital was inspected by the Department of Inspection and Appeals and was awarded Critical Access Hospital status on December 1, 2001.

New Clinics

Story Medical Clinic - Zearing opened as the first outlying clinic of the hospital in March of 1995. The Zearing clinic's success was followed by the opening of the Story Medical Clinic - Maxwell in August 1996. The clinics are staffed with a physician assistant and nurse practitioner respectively.

In late 1999, ground was broken for a new 8,000 square foot addition to the hospital that would house the new Story Medical Clinic - Nevada (which had previously been partnering with the hospital) and therapy services department, which is managed by 21st Century Rehab, PC. In 2000 the hospital officially changed its name to Story County Medical Center to encompass all of its new clinics and services.

New clinics meant new staff members and many changes. Story Medical Clinic - Nevada moved from its location on G Avenue to its current location adjacent to the hospital. Today Story Medical Clinic - Nevada has grown to house four physicians and two physician assistants.



During this period of growth in the early part of the 2000s, Story County Medical Center initiated a $230,000 renovation program for the acute and outpatient surgery areas of the hospital. With the help of the Story Medical Endowment Foundation, the medical center also bought a new handicapped accessible van for transportation of long-term care residents. The Foundation also made donations for the long-term care unit to receive new flooring, signage, paint, cabinetry and nurse’s stations.

In addition, Story Medical began to investigate new technologies and upgrades to its facilities. A new piece of radiology equipment used for surgical procedures, a C-Arm, and more advanced surgical instruments resulted in increased surgical capabilities such as total knee replacements, ACL repair, hip pinnings and more. 

Not only did Story Medical steadily improved physically, but it embarked on a new employee relationship plan. In 2004, Story Medical implemented an employee recruitment and retention plan. The plan, called Kailo, focuses on an employee’s mental, emotional and spiritual health in addition to his/her physical well being. Kailo, the Indo-European word meaning whole, uninjured or of good omen, is a workplace assistance program that encourages employees to have fun at work, supports stress reduction, and provides free counseling services for all employees and their families.

The Road to a Replacement Hospital

As Story Medical continued to grow and change, it became apparent that a 50-year-old building was no longer matching the care that was given within it's walls. On March 9, 2006, after a year of researching financial, engineering and strategic issues facing the medical center, Story County Medical Center announced its plans to build a new facility on the outskirts of Nevada. Existing hospital reserves and revenues, loans and a capital fundraising campaign would fund the replacement facility.

The land for the new South Campus was purchased from Marilyn and Dennis Webner. As part of the land transaction, the Webner's donated one of the twenty acres of the parcel in honor of her parents, Ray and Jessie Hubbard, who farmed the land for many years.

On June 19, 2007, after six months of working through the State of Iowa's healthcare construction approval process, the State of Iowa’s Health Facilities Council unanimously approved Story County Medical Center’s request for “non-reviewability” of their replacement facility project.   The “non-reviewability” determination stated that the Story County Medical Center replacement project fell under the “replacement exclusion” in the State of Iowa Certificate of Need (CON) regulations. Shortly after the approval though, Wellmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Iowa sued the State of Iowa claiming that Story Medical's project, along with a few others within the state, should not be allowed the exemption.

Knowing that the need for healthcare services in Eastern Story County were great, and that the community stood behind the replacement hospital project, Story County Medical Center choose to go through the Certificate of Need process rather than wait out the Wellmark lawsuit. A tremendous outpouring of support from the community followed, including over fifty individuals personally attending the day-long hearing.

On October 24, 2007, Story County Medical Center received a long-awaited certificate of need from the State of Iowa’s Health Facilities Council. The certificate gave the medical center the green light to move forward with building a replacement facility which had been delayed for eighteen months due to legal implications. A bright future for Story Medical was assured!

Construction Begins

Story Medical finally broke ground at 12:00 p.m. on April 25, 2008, at the corner of 19th Street and South G Avenue in Nevada. This location would be the home of Story Medical's new South Campus.   

The building started to take shape in late summer as utility work was completed and steel trusses arrived on site. By the end of fall, the structure of the building was complete and interior work began. On October 30, 2008, the concrete was poured for the county’s only hospital-based, onsite helipad.

It's Your Story.

In 2008, in conjunction with the upcoming opening of a new campus, Story Medical launched its new brand to the public. The new brand includes modernized logos, colors, and tagline for the medical center, long-term care unit and all five outlying clinics. In addition, all of the clinics were renamed Story Medical Clinic and the long-term care unit became Story Medical Senior Care to better represent the services that are all part of the Story County Medical Center system.

The new tagline—“It’s Your Story.” was created to remind every audience that their story is part of our story as a healthcare provider in their community.

In addition to the new brand, the S.T.O.R.Y. Values were implemented throughout the system. The values encompassed the work that Story Medical employees were already doing every day. S - Service; T - Teamwork; O - Openness; R - Relationships; and Y - Your Story.

South Campus Opens

Construction efforts at Story County Medical Center continued to move forward in early 2009, and on August 16, 2009, the new South Campus opened. The facility offers both inpatient and outpatient services, including an outpatient surgery center, emergency room, radiology and laboratory departments.

The state-of-the-art building features 17-bed inpatient unit comprised of private patient rooms with private bathrooms, oversized windows that flood the room with natural light and wood-like flooring for warmth.

Today, Story County Medical Center operates both the South Campus and the North Campus, which houses Story Medical Senior Care, wellness services, outpatient therapy and some financial service functions. Five outlying clinics are also part of the medical center and employ nine medical providers and one acupuncturist in five Story County communities.

As a whole, Story Medical employs approximately 250 individuals who are highly-trained in providing excellent patient and resident care. Story County Medical Center has gone through many changes in its 50 plus year history, but has always provided quality healthcare service to the residents of Story County.