Hospital Celebrates 60 Years
Hospitals in Hudson built by citizens committed to community
Two capital campaigns – one for the 1953 hospital and one for the 2003 hospital – found local citizens raising the money
By Doug Stohlberg – email@example.com
The Hudson Hospital observes 60 years in the community this January. Interestingly, 2013 also marks the 10th anniversary of the new Hudson Hospital and Clinic, 405 Stageline Road.
The hospital opened its doors on Jan. 18, 1953, at 400 Wisconsin St. at a cost of $464,000. It was built because the community decided it was needed. An early history of the hospital credits philanthropist Stephen C. Phipps with starting the effort. Phipps was the son of a wealthy railroad official and started The Phipps Foundation in 1946. He announced that he would contribute $70,000 toward a hospital building fund. His goal was to perpetuate the memory of his mother, Frances, with a lifesaving memorial.
The community hadn’t had a hospital since the old Hudson Sanatorium overlooking Lake Mallalieu was destroyed by fire in 1934. The wood structure was constructed in 1887 and operated as a general hospital for several decades. In the later years of its life, however, it was primarily used as a mental health facility.
In 1942 the residents of Hudson passed a referendum calling for the construction of a new hospital, but the project stalled.
After Phipps made his offer, a group of civic-minded citizens formed the Hudson Hospital Association in 1950 to begin the effort to build a new hospital. The board of directors included Yvette Ward, Edna Beggs, Raymond Casanova, Harry Blakeman, Hugh Gwin, Edwin Mayer and John Bauernfeind. The group’s mission was to “build, maintain and operate a non-sectarian hospital in Hudson.”
A public meeting was held in November 1950, at which final plans for financing construction of the hospital were formulated. Oscar Nelson was named general chair of the campaign and a number of fundraising teams worked under his direction.
A $35,000 donation from Charles and Yvette Ward, along with a $30,000 gift from the Dr. Boyd Williams Estate Trust jumpstarted the campaign. The Wards contributed another $15,000 later in the campaign so the association wouldn’t have to borrow money to complete the facility.
“The people of this community should have the best possible hospital care at the lowest possible cost. We’ll do everything we can to give it to them,” said Charlie Ward, the president of Brown & Bigelow said before presenting the gift.
The Wards also purchased the Hudson Star-Observer in order to promote the hospital campaign.
Contracts for building the hospital were let on July 19, 1951. Herman Hagestad Jr. of River Falls supervised the construction which began Aug. 30, 1951. The 30-bed hospital opened its doors to patients on Jan. 18, 1953. More than 1,700 people went through the new two-story building that Sunday between 3 and 9 p.m.; another 500 more toured the building in the next two days.
The original board of directors consisted of: Harry Blakeman (president), Yvette Ward, High F. Gwin, John Bauernfeind, Edwin Mayer, Mrs. Walter Beggs, Rakymond Casanova and John M. Hughes (honorary member).
The 1953 hospital underwent several expansions over the years, including the addition of a nursing home. At one point, the facility had a capacity of 122 beds. The facility underwent another major change when Hudson Physicians Clinic moved from downtown (226 Locust St.) into a new wing at the hospital in 1987.
Since the opening, the 1953 hospital served its community well. For five decades, it was the place where many medial miracles happened. However, the facility once described as “the latest work in hospital design” was built when in-patient stays were lengthy, and the need for technology space – like most technology – was still many years away.
It became apparent in the late 1990s that the Hudson Hospital needed a new location. With the rapidly changing landscape of health care, the local hospital affiliated with HealthPartners in 1997. In 1998 the Hudson Hospital purchased 17.5 acres of land from George Hoel near I-94 for a future health campus.
In 2000 the hospital board voted to proceed with the plans for a new campus. Another capital campaign was organized. Called “Building a Healthier Hudson” the organizers, led by banker Ken Heiser, faced the task of raising $15.5 million toward the construction of the $45 million facility.
The effort received a big up-front boost. The Phipps Foundation – the same organization started by Stephen Phipps in 1946 – committed $5 million to the cause. From there, it was all hard work, as local citizens reached raised $11.5 million by Dec. 31, 2001, and a year later had pledges for $14.3 million. By time the hospital opened, $15,940,554 had been raised.
The fundraising effort involved well over 1,000 donors. Ground was broken for the new health campus near I-94 in November 2001 and the doors opened in late June of 2003.
Another expansion to the new campus is currently underway. A new $10 million structure will house many of the campus’ specialty physicians. The new 41,000-square-foot medical office building is scheduled to be completed in November of this year.
Later this year the hospital is planning festivities for both the 10-year anniversary of the current campus and the opening of the new office space. The 10-year celebration is planned for June 29, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the office space open house is yet to be determined later in the year.