During the early and mid 1930’s citizens of the county and town of Refugio, Texas envisioned a community hospital. Inhabitants of the place felt that with the exception of Corpus Christi’s Spohn Hospital, facilities in the immediate area were inadequate. A new highway had been constructed through the county, oil lands were being developed in the region and there was a sizeable increase in farm population; items such as these led public minded citizens of the area to believe more hospitals would be needed. Certainly, the town of Refugio, with a population exceeding 3,000 souls, by March, 1937, needed its own hospital. By that year there seemed to be little opposition to such an institution, the chief problem being a suitable site for its location. City property was unavailable as it was encumbered by oil leases and producing wells. Thus the hospital continued to be nothing more than a dream until Joe C. Heard, a prominent local resident, decided to convert the dream into reality.
Heard, who was secretary for both the town and its Chamber of Commerce, worked quietly, but steadily, throughout 1937, on a plan which he presented to the Martin McDonald Post Number 298 of the American Legion. He acquainted the Legion with his idea at the regular monthly meeting on February 23, 1938. That night he proposed that the Legion sponsor the construction of a $150,000 county hospital.
Refugio County Memorial Hospital admitted its first patient on February 2, 1940. Since then, we have provided continuous service to the citizens of Refugio County. The original hospital was expanded in 1962 and then again in 2009. It was originally operated by several religious orders and in May of 1974, the county took over the entire operation. Early in 1977, the 65th Texas Legislature authorized the creation of the hospital district and this was confirmed by public vote on May 1, 1977.