McLeod Dillon, located at 301 E Jackson Street in Dillon, SC, has an outstanding history as a Catholic hospital built in 1943 by the Sisters of St. Mary as a result of the vision of a surgeon, Dr. William Victor "Vic" Branford, in the midst of World War II.
The Catholic hospital known as Saint Eugene Hospital had a thriving ministry of healing for fifty-five years in the Dillon community.
Dr. Branford's Dream of a Hospital for Dillon
In the early 1940's, Dillon was a remote rural area with only a handful of physicians serving a county population of almost 30,000 people, with no hospital. It was the vision and drive of one surgeon, Dr. William Victor "Vic" Branford, who guided the building of a state-of-the-art hospital in the midst of World War II on the border of South and North Carolina. Knowing this community couldn't undertake the task of building a hospital on its own, Dr. Branford contacted the Reverend Emmet M. Walsh, Bishop of Charleston, South Carolina, with an urgent plea for the Catholic Church to consider helping to build his dream hospital. From this dream in early 1943 came the beginning of the rich healing ministry of Saint Eugene Hospital that is carried on today as McLeod Medical Center-Dillon, a proud member of the McLeod Health System.
Sisters of St. Mary Faced with Challenge of Establishing Hospital in South Carolina
Bishop Emmet Walsh of Charleston, South Carolina, sent out a plea for assistance to the Order of the Sisters of St. Mary to build the proposed hospital in Dillon. "There are no Sisters available for opening a new hospital," stated Mother Mary Concordia, "and there is no money to finance a new hospital project." Later, she informed Bishop Walsh, "We shall come." The Sisters traveled from St. Louis, Missouri, to South Carolina to begin a healing ministry in a community they had never heard of before. The new four-story hospital was completed in November 1943 at a cost of $175,000. Catholic healthcare publications hailed it as one of the "most scientifically equipped and most efficiently operated hospitals in the United States." The original building, Saint Eugene Hospital, served the community until 1972.
During the late 1960's
Everyone involved with the upkeep of the aging Saint Eugene Hospital realized that some serious renovations must take place for the hospital to meet the growing health care needs of the community. The new hospital administrator, Sister Florence Weinel, hospital physicians, and community leaders announced optimistic plans for a new hospital facility. The new $3 million facility hinged on the ability of the citizens of Dillon County to raise $400,000 in 14 days. The citizens and businesses of Dillon rallied to the cause and raised more money than was needed. The people of Dillon County proved to be "real-life heroes" and it was decided the new hospital would be named Saint Eugene Community Hospital in their honor. The "new" hospital opened in 1972.
The current one story facility was built. A new ED, new OR, new Birthing Center, a Pediatric Unit and the Professional Building were additions to the original building.
1998 - Present
In 1998, McLeod Health recognized the importance of this asset to the community and acquired the hospital in 1998. The hospital known as Saint Eugene Hospital is carried on today as McLeod Dillon.