Tuesday marked the hospital’s silver anniversary at its present location, but a lot has changed since then.

Mary Frances Quinlin remembers when Hannibal Regional Auxiliary members ran Bingo nights and didn’t wear self-identifying smocks. That was before the opening of the current Hannibal Regional Hospital south of Hannibal Regional Airport.

Since then, the auxiliary has grown both in membership and the amount of funds raised and projects undertaken.

Although Bingo night is a thing of the past, members now regularly wear smocks that identify them as auxiliary volunteers — a source of pride for the more than 250 members.

Quinlin said she’s made some of her best friends through the auxiliary, and many were with her when the hospital opened its doors exactly 25 years ago on March 27, 1993.

Tuesday marked the hospital’s silver anniversary at its present location, but a lot has changed since then.

Back then, the hospital rose from the middle of a corn field.

Hannibal Regional President and CEO Todd Ahrens said someone recently found a t-shirt that bears the words “Coming to a cornfield near you” in reference to the hospital impending construction.

But as Ahrens recalled the beginning of the hospital’s existence in what is now a bustling medical campus, he also stressed how far the organization has come in 25 years.

“I really think this is something the community should be proud of,” he told the group of Hannibal Regional employees gathered in the hospital’s mall area, surrounded by memorabilia related to the various milestones the hospital has achieved in the past 25 years.

He congratulated the Boards of Directors of the former St. Elizabeth and Levering Hospitals for having the vision to merge the the organizations into Hannibal Regional in the 1980s. The merger was complete in 1988, but it would be about five years later that a vision for a sprawling medical campus would come to fruition with the opening of a new Hannibal Regional Hospital.

“They had a vision of how they could improve healthcare in our area,” Ahrens said.

The new hospital increased the total number of hospital beds in the area. Additional remodels include grouping of services together so patients did not have to be taken from floor to floor as often. Numerous upgrades throughout the years have allowed the hospital to add services like interventional cardiology, sleep study capacities, more and better oncology services, and more, Ahrens explained.

Quinlin remembers when the ribbon was cut on the facility.

“It was large and beautiful. Fancy and soothing. I remember the beautiful trees at the entrance,” she said.

Since then, several new additions have enhanced the Hannibal medical campus, including the James E. Cary Cancer Center and the Hannibal Children’s Center. Quinlin named the auxiliary’s participation in giving $1 million for the construction of the cancer center as one of the most defining moments in her years of volunteering at Hannibal Regional.

The system is the early stages of a $60 million investment that will add tens of thousands of square feet of new office space, as well as provide additional upgrades to patient rooms at the hospital.

Ahrens said Hannibal Regional remains committed to providing excellent care across the entire healthcare spectrum. Change will inevitably occur in the future, but Quinlin, who has seen plenty of changes in 25 years, says that’s a good thing.

“Change sometimes comes hard,” she said. “But changes are good and changes are necessary.”

Reach editor Eric Dundon at eric.dundon@courierpost.com .