In the 1950's the need for a modern hospital in Eagle River was rapidly becoming apparent. Incidents in the area were pointing to the dangers involved in transporting patients to distant hospitals. As the population of the area grew, the potential for serious accidents grew and the demand for medical services continued to rise.
Concerned Citizens realized the more time physicians spent on the highway traveling to distant hospitals, the less valuable time they had caring for the sick and injured. They based the proposal for that first hospital on the findings of a state hospital survey of the area and recommendations from the division of hospital facilities.
Donations Laid the Groundwork for Eagle River Memorial Hospital and Expansions
Mr. H.S. Tuttle, an Eagle River resident, came forward and donated the property where the hospital was built. The next step was securing the $355,000 needed in the late 1950's to build the hospital. A team was developed to design and implement the "Eagle River Memorial Hospital (ERMH) Building Fund". Over the next few years, hundreds of people in the Eagle River area contributed their time and money to bring the community's dream to life.
On September 20, 1961, Eagle River Memorial Hospital opened its doors. In 1969 ERMH expanded from 25 to 37 beds.
In 1977, due to the generosity of Col. Norman C. Kalmar, his wife, Ethel and the Walter Olson Foundation, the hospital was updated. This construction phase included a new emergency room, medical library, cardiopulmonary rehabilitation, an ambulance port and the addition of the Kalmar Clinic with physician suites. Col. and Mrs. Kalmar were major benefactors, donating approximately $100,000 to the hospital and clinic for this project. Over the next decade, the Kalmar family continued its philanthropic spirit by donating regularly to ERMH. At the same time the Walter Olson Foundation donated all of their remaining land holdings in Vilas County to the hospital - an estimated $500,000.
Expansion in 1983 brought the hospital to its present size of 41 beds, doubled the size of the Kalmar Clinic and again updated the emergency room and ancillary services.
ERMH Receives Statewide Prominence with Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT's)
The 1980's also brought ERMH into statewide and Midwest prominence as the hospital was instrumental in helping to write and design the Emergency Medical Technician - Intermediate program, along with educational requirements and intervention protocols. Many of these protocols remain in place today, and the ambulance service remains instrumental in statewide Emergency Medical Services policy by holding a seat on the Governor's Council.
To Strengthen Care, ERMH Affiliates with Howard Young Health Care System
In 1987, ERMH formed its affiliation with the Howard Young Health Care system to strengthen the quality of care for people in Eagle River. This affiliation would allow Eagle River Memorial Hospital to develop more access to quality health care providers and medical technology for the community.
Shortly after this affiliation an ambitious capital campaign was undertaken with a goal of $800,000. The outpouring of support from the Eagle River community was once again overwhelming, providing a financial base to ensure a progressive, well-equipped health care facility. The campaign also served as a vehicle for administration to begin open discussions with the community on short and long term plans for health services.
In 1992, ERMH received a grant from the federal government for $150,000 to develop a pilot for a new type of licensure; Rural Medical Center. Over the next decade, the affiliation with Howard Young Health Care allowed for development of Family Health Centers in outlying remote communities and recruitment of many new physicians.