"In 1948 it was nothing but farmland," MDMC Board Chairman Scott Matthews recalled of the land surrounding the hospital.
The hospital opened in December 1948 on land donated by the Matthews family.
The hospital soon expanded to fill the original eight acre lot. In the late 1960s, the Collins family made about four more acres available, providing the space for the ReStart and Sikeston Jaycee Dialysis centers.
But as the hospital grew, so did the surrounding community. "The hospital had run out of contiguous land," Matthews said.
Thanks to the Jolly family, room for some of the hospital's services that can be located off campus was made available across the street. It is simply not feasible, however, to place critical services across a highway from the main facility, Matthews said.
Additionally, the space there has already filled, according to Charles Ancell, Missouri Delta Medical Center's CEO.
Now, thanks to a generous donation of land immediately north of the hospital by four brothers, Edward, Joseph, Robert and John Fuchs, the hospital has another 14 acres to work with.
"The donation was made in memory of our parents, N.E. and Elizabeth Fuchs," said Robert Fuchs. "My father was always very supportive of the hospital and community ... My father and mother always wanted to keep the hospital in mind as far as the development of that property was concerned."
Fuchs said his father and an adjacent civic-minded landowner, Charles Matthews, had long intended and discussed something along these lines. Matthews said notes dating 31 years back were found related to this project.
"The only reason this is able to happen is because of the generosity of the Fuchs family," Matthews said. "It made the growth of the medical community viable."
However, when roads in the area ended up as cul-de-sacs or running along different lines than they envisioned, "it stymied development in that part of the city for some period of time," Fuchs said. "I think they were hopeful something would have happened previously."
While straightening Dudley Street may have appeared to be a relatively insignificant part of the Sikeston Jaycee Dialysis Center project, it proved to be a key element in providing the hospital with unimproved contiguous land to expand into.
The peculiar bend of Dudley Drive just before it meets Plaza Drive and some real estate deals left a triangular piece of land - probably no more than a tenth of an acre - in the hands of the city, which was unable to make useful use of the land or sell it due to a reversionary clause.
"If it wasn't used for city purposes, it had to be given back to the state," Ancell recalled.
Lacking suitable access for development, the land north of the hospital remained farmland.
During the dialysis center project, Rep. Peter Myers was able to get a bill passed which cleared up the mess. It allowed the hospital to straighten Dudley and extend Plaza to the north, according to Ancell.
Plaza Drive's extension is actually one of the most exciting parts of the deal, according to Matthews, as it will eventually tie in with Salcedo Drive to the north, providing ambulances with a quick route from the northern Interstate 55 interchange to the hospital without a single stop light.
"It will take a tremendous amount of pressure off main street," said Fuchs. "That's going to get injured people to the emergency room much quicker."
The new northern access will also serve as "a valuable thoroughfare for employees of the hospital," Fuchs added, and will make the site more attractive for other related developments. "Hopefully more doctors and medically related businesses will want to locate in the area."
Matthews said the additional land provides the hospital with 30-40 years worth of room to expand. "This doubles the size of the MDMC campus," he said.
"We don't know exactly what were going to do with it yet - we've got different ideas," said Sharon Urhahn, director of marketing for MDMC.