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Evangel sponsors OPT documentary on O'Reilly Army Hospital

Published on Feb 24, 2012 by Evangel University News


OPT documentary O’Reilly

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Ozarks Public Television (OPT) will premiere a locally produced documentary on O’Reilly General Hospital, a WWII-era army hospital that was located in Springfield, Mo., on the grounds where Evangel University now stands.

The hospital became home to Evangel University (then Evangel College) in the fall of 1955.

“O’Reilly General Hospital: The Hospital with a Soul” will be broadcast in high definition on OPT at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, 2012. It will repeat Sunday, March 4, at 1:30 p.m. and Monday, March 5, at 10 p.m.

Evangel University helped make this presentation possible because of research materials from the university’s Betty A. Chase Archives and interviews with President Robert H. Spence.

Evangel is also the presenting sponsor of the production.

“The history of O’Reilly General Hospital is part of our history,” said President Spence. “Through this documentary we honor the memories of doctors, nurses, patients and all those who were involved in that institution.

President Spence

“The hospital made its mark on the medical field, providing cutting edge technologies and practices for the time. It also made an impact for the betterment of Springfield as a city,” he said.

The O’Reilly facility became a model for military hospitals across the country, with the physicians and staff often pioneering and implementing cutting edge medical techniques.

More than 100,000 soldiers, dependents and prisoners of war were treated at O’Reilly throughout the war years. The patients and personnel at O’Reilly fondly remember it as “the hospital with a soul.”


Evangel archives contain great treasure

The program features many first-person memories and perspectives including WWII veterans who recovered at O’Reilly.

It also features an abundant supply of archival documents, photos and film clips to bring the era alive and foster understanding of the development and significance of the hospital.

O’Reilly General Hospital
O’Reilly General Hospital at its peak.


The O’Reilly Hospital Collection — which is the premiere collection in Evangel’s Betty A. Chase Archives — includes more than 500 U.S. Army and Red Cross photographs of the old military barracks, hospital operating rooms and other facilities, other preserved pictures, maps, oral history tapes with transcripts and other information from the time the hospital was in operation.

The history and memories of O’Reilly General Hospital are held in high esteem by the faculty, staff and students of Evangel. This is due, in part, to the very real impact that the acquisition of the O’Reilly land and facilities had on the development of university, the first national liberal arts college of the Assemblies of God.

“We were able to start a college with basically all of the facilities that we needed,” said Shirley Shedd, professor emeritus of communication at Evangel University. “Upon acquisition of the hospital, we immediately had a cafeteria, a gymnasium, dormitories. This was a great blessing.”

Shedd, who has worked as the Evangel archivist since 2007, began providing materials to OPT for the documentary nine months ago.

“History is a window to the past that can inform our decisions in the future,” Shedd said. “I am proud that Ozarks Public Television has made a priority of recording and presenting local history to the Springfield community.”

(Check out the photos on the joint website with the Springfield-Greene County Library.)


Ozarks Public Television

“The human interest, warmth and significance of the O’Reilly Hospital story are remarkable,” said Tom Carter, OPT programming and production manager. “The legacy of O’Reilly in many ways continues to resonate today. It’s truly an engaging and often moving story, a tribute to our citizens and community.”

Ozarks Public Television is the Missouri State licensee for KOZK-TV, channel 21 in Springfield, Missouri and KOZJ-TV, channel 26 in Joplin, Missouri. The studios and offices are located on the Missouri State University campus in Springfield.

“Our Ozarks region is rich with unique history, and it’s a privilege to share these stories with our viewers,” said OPT General Manager Tammy Wiley. “We’re always pleased to present these special programs and remain grateful to all those who help make our work possible.”

Ozarks Public Television provides PBS programming and instructional television services to nearly 550,000 households in Southwest Missouri and the adjoining three state area.



WRITTEN BY: Valorie Coleman & Paul K. Logsdon