Clark County Press, Neillsville, WI
May 13, 1993, Page 24
Transcribed by Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon.
Index of "Good Old Days" Articles
Good Old Days
By Dee Zimmerman
Memorial Medical Center, serving Neillsville and surrounding communities with health care needs
The Medical Center facility includes the hospital, clinic and nursing home. It delivers health care in the various fields with 335 full and part-time employees.
With the vast discoveries in modern technologies, medical care today is beyond comparison to that of one hundred years ago.
The B. F. French house, where the Public Library now stands was rented by Drs. Esch and Lacey as a hospital in the early 1890’s
Neillsville’s first hospital was established in the early 1890’s. The B. F. French house, on the corner of Hewett and 4th Streets, where the public library is now located, was rented by Drs. Esch and Lacey along with Frank Archer, a city resident. The doctors were also pharmacists. The hospital was called Esch, Lacey and Company, which issued tickets and certificates for health care.
During that time, logging was at “its boom” in the area. The logging and lumbering owners would purchase tickets for the fee of $3.00 to $5.00 per season for each lumberjack or employee. If or when an employee was injured in the woods, he could go to a doctor or hospital, be treated and make payment for the services using the tickets.
Dr. B. F. French, who practiced law in the city, had also studied medicine and chose law as his profession. However, many times, in case of emergencies, he would be called upon for medical assistance.
After the early, privately owned hospital and prior to 1931, the community was without a hospital. Most medical care was provided by physicians who made house calls as far away as 14 or 20 miles, any time of day or night, in any kind of weather. It has been said that Dr. Sarah Rosekranz once traveled on snowshoes to reach a patient when the winter’s snow- fall had left a great depth of snow. Doctor’s offices were often rented rooms in downtown locations.
In 1931, Mrs. Naomi Stamper purchased the former residence of Judge James O’Neill at 4th and State Street and opened it as a hospital. She operated it as such for six years, recorded 813 operations (many major) as being undertaken during that time. Cash income for those six years, was about $50,000. After closing the hospital, she kept it open afternoons and evenings for X-rays, first aid and emergencies while she looked for a buyer.
A short time later, she sold the hospital which was re-opened by the efforts of Herman North, a local banker, and Herbert L. Brown. Herbert managed it with the assistance of his son, Walter (Buster) Brown. Brown was an X-ray technician, general male nurse and handyman.
Neillsville’s second hospital was on the corner of 4th and State streets, and opened for patients in 1931
The hospital on 4th and State Street was a two story structure with no elevator.
As the photo indicates, some patients had to be carried down the flight of stairs.
(L-R): Herbert L. Brown, patient unidentified, Walter (Buster) Brown and Paula Mueller
The hospital staff of Herbert and Walter Brown, nurses Mathilda and Paula Mueller as well as housekeeping services provided by Mrs. Adele Zuege, William Schultz, Mrs. Leslie Holmes, Mrs. Free Christie and Mrs. Henry Finell.
Ten years later, with the efforts of many, plans were formulated and put in motion, for the Neillsville Memorial Hospital, Inc. The need for a new, larger facility was apparent to the community. Fund raising, locally and federal funding enabled the dream to be realized.
Local contributions were encouraged by some of the leaders who gave generously in initiating the project.
The new Memorial Hospital was dedicated on September 16, 1954 and opened for patient care on October 3.
The first Chief of Staff was Dr. Milton C. Rosekranz; Paula Mueller, obstetrical nurse; Mrs. Vivian Briski of Greenwood, surgical supervisor; Mrs. Erna Langreck, medical technician; Mrs. Norman Drescher, dietician; and Duane Coyier, engineer.
In 1954 (?), a new nursing home was completed in conjunction with the hospital. Memorial Home, as a wing to the hospital, contained 109 beds, later to be expanded for more accommodations.
Ten years later, another expansion of the facility took place when construction of a second floor was complete above the hospital, to serve as quarters for the clinic. That move enabled the doctor’s offices to be conveniently located with the clinic and hospital together.
Now, in 1993, another fund-raising effort is in progress to provide finances for a remodeling project with an addition of 12,000 square feet to the hospital as well as renewing some of the old hospital structure.
The need for a medical center in our area has been proven many times through the years. Those of us who have been caught in emergency situations were thankful to have been only a few minutes away from the life-saving services of the Memorial Hospital and its staff.
1982 view of the Memorial Medical Center on Neillsville’s southwest side.
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