Morrow County Hospital at The Cardinal Center open for business

Story and photos by Randa Wagner

July 1, 2014

The rain held off and the crowds turned out June 11 for the grand opening of the Morrow County Hospital at The Cardinal Center on State Route 61 just north of Interstate 71.

“Welcome to this great day!” Hospital CEO Chris Truax called to attendees and guests in an opening ceremony.”This has been a long time coming. We’ve been working on this project in some form or fashion for 5 to 7 years. We broke ground a year ago and here we are; we started seeing patients today!”

To begin the brief program, an invocation was given by Rev. Jan Sprague, who gave acknowledged the event as ‘celebration and beauty and completion’ but with a bittersweet note, as Karen Fishburn was not able to see the opening of the center she cared so much about.

“Her spirit of hard work and taking care of details is present here today,” Sprague said. She gave thanks for those who labored to get the facility up and running and to all those dedicated to its completion.

Truax thanked hospital board members, who gave the management team the “ability to pursue the vision.”

“Thank you for letting this facility become a reality,” he said. Truax also acknowledged Morrow County Chamber of Commerce Interim President Cathy Francis, Morrow County Commissioners, County Development Director Pat Davies, the medical staff of Dr. Addington, Dr. Silva, and Brandy Bower, County Health Commissioner Angie Smith, and Dr. William (BJ) Lenz.

Hospital Board Chairman Pat Drouhard thanked Fishburn Services and Jack Fishburn for their ‘timely construction of this facility – ‘Just over a year ago and here we are today occupying it already.’

Drouhard thanked Truax for his leadership, which is the style of ‘find out which way the herd is running and jump in front.’

“That’s exactly what Chris did and now the next trick is slowly turning the herd the direction he thinks it should go,” Drouhard laughed.”That’s what he’s done with Morrow County Hospital, and specifically with getting this facility where it is today.

Drouhard thanked Construction Project Manager C.J. Miller for a ‘wonderful job’ and keeping the board updated on the project’s progress.

“We are proud of this facility and believe it will help move our mission of providing quality health care for Morrow County,” he concluded.

Reflecting on the facility’s beginnings, Truax related how the proposal came to him on his third day at Morrow County Hospital - by way of a visit from Jack Fishburn.

“Jack said, Welcome. I want to build you a building,” Truax recalled. “I said great! Where? He said ‘in Marengo. This is something I want to do for the community. We’ve got to make that happen.’ It sounded like a great idea, but I had no idea what it was going to take to make it happen.”

Truax said with Dr. Bill Addington and his wife Diane’s help and with Jack and Karen’s vision, “we got the architects involved and we started on drawings and figuring out what it was going to take and what services we needed to put in here.”

He said the ‘vision started growing and we went from a smaller sized building to a bigger building and got to where we are.’

“And at the heart of it all was Karen,” he said fondly. “Karen has a vision. Karen has a passion for Morrow County Hospital and for this community. What better way to deliver on that vision than to bring primary care here to Marengo?”

A plaque inside the front doors honors the Fishburn family for ‘their commitment to the community, the project and for the ability to make this vision a reality.”

A room off the main lobby is dedicated as the Karen D. Fishburn Community Room.

“It was her vision and passion and how this got pushed up to the forefront,” Truax noted, “and we’re never going to forget that.”

Truax said the facility is a partnership between Morrow County Hospital and the community, allowing them to come together and serve the needs of the community. He noted that some of the artwork in the building was a partnership with local artists, arranged by Gena Wiley of Marengo.

“We’re going to build on that,” Truax explained of the partnership. “Every six months or so we’re going to change it up a bit.”

Denise Fishburn-Aumend spoke on behalf of the Fishburn family, stating her family was very proud to be part of the joint effort with Morrow County Hospital on completing the project.

“The needs of this community have always been very important to our family,” she said, “and I know my mother would have been so very pleased to see this project completed.”

Board members, county commissioners, Jack Fishburn, C.J. Miller, Dr. Addington and Chris Truax took part in a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Guests toured the facility after the ribbon cutting and enjoyed refreshments provided by Morrow County Hospital Nutrition Services.

Many more photos can be found with this story online at