Ellis Fischel Cancer Center is Missouri's only hospital dedicated solely to cancer care. Its team of physician specialists and other trained professionals work together with a common goal: to provide the latest cancer treatments and improved quality of life for thousands of people each year. Named after Dr. Ellis Fischel, a physician who envisioned a statewide plan for controlling cancer, the hospital was dedicated on April 26, 1940, as the first cancer center west of the Mississippi River.
Vision Dr. Fischel did more than any other person to bring about the establishment of the state cancer hospital. He dreamed of a state-wide plan for the control of cancer, which included a state cancer hospital, equipped with all the latest facilities for treatment, manned by a staff of specially trained physicians, with provision for scientific investigation into the causes and clinical manifestations of this disease, and diagnostic tumor clinics established in various larger cities in the state. With the indefatigable determination and energy for which he was noted, he undertook to translate these dreams into reality. His accomplishments prove that he possessed a type of imagination which enabled him to glimpse what lay beyond our common horizon. A summary of all his endeavors points unerringly toward a life of service to mankind.
Action The time had come for legislative action. On Jan. 11, 1937, Governor Lloyd C. Stark of Missouri in his inaugural address, stressed the desirability and importance of a cancer hospital, which he said should be available to "the humblest citizen." Later Senator Michael Kinney of St. Louis introduced a cancer hospital bill to the 59th General Assembly, a measure which was subsequently passed, and which was signed by Governor Stark on May 28, 1937. The bill provided for the erection and operation of a state cancer hospital, the establishment of diagnostic clinics, and for a Cancer Commission to supervise the maintenance of the state's cancer program.
On Nov. 23, 1937, the Missouri State Cancer Commission selected the Columbia site because the city is located virtually in the heart of the state and the two major highways of the time (Highways 40 and 63) of the state intersected in the city. Two months later, the Columbia City Council appropriated $20,000 for the purchase of a 40 acre tract on which the center is presently located.
Dr. Fischel was selected the first chairman of the State Cancer Commission. His selection for this important post was based on an impressive record of technical training and service to suffering humanity. He was a man of culture, a finished surgeon and a surpassing organizer. He was killed May 14, 1938 while driving to Jefferson City on Commission business.
In 1990, Ellis Fischel became a member of the University of Missouri Health Care. Today, physicians and staff members continue to advance Dr. Fischel's vision.