St. Joseph Hospital

From its meager beginning in a converted house, funded initially by donations from public-spirited citizens of Osmond and other communities, Osmond General Hospital has evolved into a modern, well-equipped and staffed medical facility.

Initial plans for a hospital in Osmond were begun in October 1944 by the Osmond Community Club after a commitment was received from the Sisters of St. Casimir to operate the hospital. The steering committee appointed to undertake the task consisted of Drs. A. E. Mailliard, C. E. Rodgers and Paul Becker, Rev. Eric Holstein, Al Lundstrom, Casper Theisen and E. J. Huey. Three additional members were appointed later — Ella Mayer, Elnora Swanda and Pearl Record.

As the fund-raising goal of $15,000 was neared, a contract was made with A. F. Schmitz for the acquisition of his residence — a spacious home built in 1916-17 by Mrs. Leonard

On Feb. 28, 1945, Sister M. Ambrose, a registered nurse of Holy Cross Hospital in Chicago, was appointed superintendent of the new 17-bed St. Joseph Hospital, and it officially opened on Sept. 26, 1945. Sister Ambrose continued as superintendent until 1951 when she was succeeded by Sister Virginia and Sister M. Dorothy. In 1954, the Sisters of St. Casimir withdrew from the hospital.

The Sisters of St. Dominic of Racine, WI, assumed operating responsibility for the hospital, with Sister Laurentine as superintendent. She was succeeded in August 1961 by Sister Inez. A Convent addition was erected in 1956-57 and an emergency room with a large ramp was added to the east side of the building. A new obstetrical wing and six additional rooms for medical, surgical and pediatric patients were added in September 1960, bringing the bed capacity to 23.

In 1961, the hospital name was changed to St. Joseph Community Hospital and, in 1966, the name became Osmond General Hospital.

In 1964, Sister Casimir became administrator and remained in that position until January 1969 when the Sisters of St. Dominic discontinued the over-all management responsibilities of the hospital. The Sisters continued to work in various staff positions until 1976.

In 1965, plans were initiated for a new hospital. After months of planning, the dedicated efforts of the board of Osmond Development Corporation and administration paid off. Some $22,300 was raised by community and area supporters, and $210,000 was borrowed from the Small Business Administration and $140,000 from Home Federal Savings. Ground breaking for the new hospital took place on May 5, 1966.

The new 29-bed hospital was dedicated on Jan. 15, 1967, and the old hospital was renovated and converted for use as a 30-bed nursing home.

Members of the Development Corporation were Duane Reed, Ron Aschoff, Everett Gansebom, Eugene Schmit, Bertha Fuelberth, Gertrude Kahler and Louis Thomsen. Members of the hospital board during the construction were Kenneth Dawson, Ben J. Fuelberth, Phil Beckwith, Dick Adkins, Jim Stratton, Dr. A. E. Mailliard and Eugene Liewer. On Jan. 1, 1969, Leonard Frodyma was hired as administrator.

In late 1969, fire regulations dictated that the original hospital building could no longer be used as a nursing home. In 1971, the structure was torn down. The west wing (1960 obstetrical wing) continued to house nursing home patients until 1970, at which time restrictions by the Department of Welfare caused it to close. The beds were converted to hospital use with the hospital capacity increasing to 46 beds.

In 1972, a three-bed coronary care unit was established, financed in part through memorials from friends and family of the late Dr. A. E. Mailliard. A physical therapy department was established later that year and the bed capacity was reduced to 40 beds. In 1976, cardiac telemetry monitoring was added and, in the years which followed, diagnostic ultrasound, pulmonary function testing, automated laboratory and x-ray equipment were implemented.

With the introduction of the federal government’s prospective payment system, restrictions were imposed upon hospitals nationwide and admissions to hospitals limited. Census decreased significantly, and survival became a frequent agenda item at monthly board meetings.

In an attempt to diversify and remain a viable institution, the hospital became certified as a “swing bed” facility in early 1985, permitting the admission of skilled and intermediate care patients. Three levels of care were provided and, as a patient’s condition improved, transfer to a lower level of care became possible. This program provided the needed finances to balance the hospital’s loss of resources resulting from various federal cuts in Medicare reimbursement to hospitals.

In December 1988, the final payment on the 25-year loan was made — three years ahead of schedule. The hospital was debt free.

The labor room was renovated in 1988 and a birthing bed added for the comfort of new mothers. The same year, a treadmill stress testing program was developed and, in 1989, the cardiac rehab department was established, providing needed services for post-coronary patients. New, fully computerized coronary monitoring equipment, along with a completely remodeled nurses’ station, was added in July 1989, further complementing the hospital’s cardiac program.

In 1991, an activity center was constructed, and hallways were carpeted. The activity center is used by swing bed residents and hospital staff for various purposes, including, without limitation, family gatherings, staff meetings and occasional community meetings.

Major additions and renovations to the facilities were undertaken in 2004, including (a) 8,770 square feet for physical therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, admissions and waiting areas, (b) 1,930 square feet for surgery and post anesthesia recovery additions, (c) 2,110 square feet for emergency room and nurses’ station additions, (d) renovation of a room to accommodate a CT scanner and purchase of a CT scanner, and (e) purchase of X-ray equipment. This renovation and addition was completed in 2005. In recent years, the hospital has installed wireless infrastructure for cardiac monitors and electronic health records, purchased backup power sources, and replaced or added certain key medical equipment as needed.

In 2012, the hospital completed the renovation of patient rooms and replacement of the HVAC system, at an estimated cost of $1.2 million.

— Shared with permission from The Osmond Republican