For more than 100 years Mercy Medical Center Des Moines has been an outstanding presence in the health care community of Iowa. The hospital has been recognized for its many firsts: the first permanent hospital in Des Moines; the first isotope laboratory in Polk County; the first heart transplant performed in Central Iowa, and the first hospital in the WORLD to have a bi-lateral cardiac catheterization laboratory.
In 1893 Des Moines population of 52,000 was growing quickly. On Dec. 8 of that year, Mercy Hospital opened its doors at Hoyt Sherman Place on Woodland Avenue. The hospital had two private rooms and award for five patients. Patients were charged between $2.50 and $6 per day with an additional fee of two dollars to five dollars for surgery.
From this modest start by six nuns, Mercy has evolved into a $900 million, 802-bed medical center, located on two campuses with more than 7,000 employees. Mercy was started by the Sisters of Mercy, an order founded by Catherine McAuley in Dublin, Ireland, in 1831. Sixteen years later the Sisters established the first hospital in the United States and, by the 1890s, had founded more than 30 hospitals in this country, including Mercy Hospital in Des Moines.