For many years, Fairbury and Jefferson County were served by two privately owned hospitals operated in conjunction with the medical clinics in Fairbury and the surrounding communities. As outlying communities began losing their physicians and Fairbury became more and more the health center for these communities, the need for expanded hospital facilities became more apparent.
A public effort began in the 1950s. Jefferson County Memorial Hospital Inc. (now Jefferson Community Health & Life) was incorporated in 1960.
The first meeting of the Board of Directors was held on Jan. 11, 1961. An option was placed for an acreage for a hospital site in the McLucas Subdivision of Fairbury. A hospital consultant was employed, an architectural firm (Helleberg & Helleberg of Kearney, Neb.) was hired, and an application for Hill-Burton funds was made. In March 1962, bids were opened and contracts were let to start construction.
A special gift was designated for a nursing home, and a nursing home wing was incorporated into the building plans.
Ground-breaking was April 24, 1962. Construction of the 28-bed hospital and 33-bed nursing home was complete Sept. 15, 1963. The facility was dedicated Sept. 22, 1963. The hospital and nursing home began operating in October 1963.
1968: Addition of south wing, increasing hospital capacity to 49 beds
1970: Addition of administrator’s office, conference room, and business office space
2000: Became a Critical Access Hospital, a special designation which helps gives rural hospitals a different type of reimbursement (did not affect services offered and improved long-term financial strength)
2001: Began design of 42-unit Cedarwood Assisted Living, a private not-for-profit joint venture between Jefferson Community Health & Life and BryanLGH
2004: Completed Cedarwood Assisted Living on the hospital campus
2005: Remodeling of radiology department and cafeteria
2013: Eight-unit addition to Cedarwood completed 2015 – $8 million renovation completed, including renovating all patient rooms to private rooms with handicapped accessible restrooms and private showers; relocating and improving patient accessibility and work flow of radiology, pharmacy, laboratory, and respiratory services; renovating therapy area, business office and main lobby; relocating and renovating administrative offices, health information services, and human resources offices; and relocating and renovation conference rooms. Reduced licensure to 17 beds for acute care.