Our History


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.

Facility Changes


  • 1968: Addition of south wing, increasing hospital capacity to 49 beds
  • 1970: Addition of administrator’s office, conference room, and business office space
  • 1978: Expansion of physical therapy area
  • 1983: Addition of eight-bed wing to nursing home, bringing total to 41 nursing home beds
  • 1988: Expansion of nursing home dining room, addition to laundry area
  • 1995: Renovation of emergency and obstetrics departments and outpatient clinics
  • 1996: Addition of Bob & Wauneta Burkley Wellness Center (now Jefferson Community Health & Life Burkley Fitness Center, new occupational therapy area, expanded physical therapy area, new front entrance and waiting area
  • 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
  • 2006: Remodeling at Gardenside (now Jefferson Community Health & Life Gardenside)long-term care
  • 2009: Surgical addition completed
  • 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.
  • 2016: Purchased The Fairbury Clinic (now Jefferson Community Health & Life Fairbury Clinic)
  • 2017: Became Jefferson Community Health & Life with a new Commitment to Health
  • 2018: Opened the Jefferson Community Health & Life Plymouth Clinic