Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital Timeline of History
1838 — The first logging camps appear in Portage County.
1839 — George Stevens puts up a trading post on the river — the first building in what would become the city of Stevens Point. J.A. Martin builds a sawmill on the Big Eau Claire River.
1844 — Amalia Frances Rose Streitel is born in Mellrichstadt, Germany. As Mother Mary Frances, she will become the founder of the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother in 1883.
1846 — The first “doctor,” John Bristol, arrives in Stevens Point area, probably settling in Plover.
1848 — The first qualified doctor, John Phillips sets up practice in Stevens Point, and dies here in 1903.
1858 — City of Stevens Point is incorporated.
1882 — “Lumberman’s Hospital” opens in Stevens Point. It closes in 1885 as major logging operations move north out of Portage County.
1902 — Local doctors and citizens begin informal discussions about establishing a public hospital in Stevens Point.
1903 — January 26, the Charity Hospital Corporation is established, “to erect a hospital in the city of Stevens Point.” Early fundraising efforts are unsuccessful.
1903 — The Portage County Medical Society is established.
1906 — June 6, Mercy Hospital, a private 14-room hospital, opens at 702 Church Street. It closed probably in early 1910.
1910 — Stevens Point becomes a division point on the Soo Line Railway and railroad officials push for a hospital to care for its employees here. The Stevens Point Women’s Club helps launch a new campaign to build a public hospital.
1910 — June 1, the Charity Hospital Corp. receives an acre of land as a site for a hospital. The donor is V.P. Atwell of N. Boyington Company. The Stevens Point Women’s Club donates $200 for an adjacent acre of land and the corporation launches a successful fundraising campaign to build a hospital on the site.
1911 — Aug. 31, at a public ceremony, ground is broken for the new hospital.
1911 — Oct. 3, the cornerstone is laid. It reads, “Built in honor of the Citizens of Stevens Point.”
1911 — Sept. 15, Charity Hospital Corp. changes its name after the newspapers repeatedly and mistakenly refer to it as the “City Hospital Association.” The directors surrender to the editors.
1912 — As the building nears completion, the association has no idea who will operate the hospital. The directors decide to “cross that bridge when [we] come to it.”
1912 — Sept., the association writes to the bishop of Green Bay, asking if the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother would operate the new hospital. The Sisters already operate hospitals in Marshfield and other Wisconsin communities.
1912 — Dec. 12, the Sisters purchase the hospital, assuming its $5,000 mortgage debt. They rename it “Saint Michael’s Hospital” after Michael the archangel and patron saint of the sick.
1912 — Dec. 27, four Sisters arrive at the hospital to begin preparations for opening day. Much work remains to be done and over the next month, the Sisters’ community will spend about $5,000 on alterations and improvements.
The First 25 Years
1913 — Jan. 28, O.A. Anderson, a Soo Line employee, is the first patient admitted to the new 36-bed hospital. Only 163 patients will be admitted during all of 1913. Hospital care (as opposed to home care) hasn’t yet caught on with the general public, who see it as a “last resort.”
1913 — Feb. 3, Saint Michael’s Hospital officially opens, with the arrival of five more Sisters. Several patients have already been admitted in the days before the official opening.
1916 — Feb. 16, Rev. C. Urich arrives to serve as the first resident chaplain at Saint Michael’s. Many of the pastors of St. Stanislaus Church on Fremont Street will also serve as hospital chaplains through the years.
1913 — Aug. 10, a new and permanent chapel is dedicated in the hospital. To make room for the new chapel, the Sisters have given up their kitchen and dining, sewing, and sleeping rooms, moving into new quarters in the attic and basement.
1920 — The medical staff (physicians) at Saint Michael’s vote to become a “closed staff.” Only staff members can use the hospital and new staff members must be approved by a majority of the existing staff. Work begins on writing a standard of ethics and practice.
1922 — There are 15 Sisters, a lab technician, a janitor, and a maid working at the hospital. Less than nine years old, it is seriously overcrowded beyond its original 36 beds.
1923 — Dr. Marie Kersten arrives in Steven Point. She is probably the first woman doctor to practice here and will remain in practice into the 1950s.
1924 — A citizens’ hospital committee meets to discuss plans for an addition to the hospital. A fundraising campaign gets off to a slow start.
1926 — June 7, blood transfusion is first mentioned in the hospital records. There is no organized system of blood donation. Most donors are members of the patient’s family.
1926 — November, under a new chairman, Edward A. Oberweiser, president of the Whiting-Plover Paper Co., the campaign for an addition finally takes off. The Sisters pledge $100,000 and the committee raises another $90,000, falling $10,000 short of its goal.
1927 — Aug. 17, ground is broken for the addition on the hospital’s north side, with the cornerstone laid on Oct. 27.
1928 — Projected to cost $200,000, the addition is completed for $289,000. On the eve of the Great Depression, the Sisters must issue bonds and mortgage the hospital to make up the difference. The debts will not be cleared until the early 1950s.
1928 — Aug. 28, the first patients are received into the four-story “north wing” addition, which includes a new surgical suite. The old surgical areas are converted to delivery and nursery rooms.
The Second 25 Years
1929 — November, Saint Michael’s receives accreditation as a Class B hospital.
1938 — May 12, a public celebration marks National Hospital Day and the 25th anniversary of the founding of Saint Michael’s Hospital.
1938 — June 13, a new grotto is dedicated on the southeast corner of the hospital grounds.
1940 — The first publicly supported blood drive is organized nationwide by the Knights of Columbus.
1940 — The Franciscan Fathers of the Assumption Province of Pulaski, Wisconsin, begin providing resident chaplains to the hospital. The 1928 hospital expansion included a small house built at the corner Fremont and Prais Streets as chaplains’ quarters.
1944 — A new addition on the rear of the hospital includes a new laundry room and boiler room and sleeping and sewing rooms for the Sisters. A new electrocardiogram (ECG) machine is used for the first time.
1945 — A fifth floor is added to the north wing. It includes several operating rooms, a clinical laboratory, supply rooms, new sterilizers, and a doctors’ locker room and lounge.
1947 — Deep X-ray therapy becomes available under Dr. J.A. Knights, the hospital’s first radiologist. The Shriners donate a whirlpool for physical therapy.
1950 — Red Cross Blood Service comes to Portage County and Saint Michael’s Hospital. The Community Fund donates a Jewett Blood Bank Refrigerator to the hospital in 1951.
1950 — The “Gray Ladies” are organized at Saint Michael’s Hospital, as a volunteer service of Portage County’s American Red Cross. The group has its roots in the Red Cross Aides who volunteered at Saint Michael’s during World War II.
1951 — A sixth and final story is added to the north wing. It includes a new Physiotherapy Department.
1952 — August, Dictaphone® machines now allow the doctors to record medical histories for transcription.
The Third 25 Years
1954 — The hospital is incorporated, “without stock and not for profit.”
1958 — Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital Advisory Council is organized to act as a link between the hospital administration and the public.
1958 — The Gray Ladies set up a card system to regulate the number of visitors to patients’ rooms. It is discontinued four years later, “as the public has come to understand the need for certain formalities during visiting hours.”
1959 — “Aware of the anxiety that patients about to undergo surgery may experience,” the hospital installs a cardiac monitor, defibrillator, and pacemaker for use during surgeries.
1963 — The hospital has 180 beds and 23 bassinets. It employs 250 people, not including the physicians on its medical staff. For the past five years, it has averaged more than 4,500 surgical procedures a year.
1963 — Plans and fundraising begin for an expansion and “modernization” program.
The Past 25 Years
1964 – 2013
The Next 25 Years
2014 and Beyond
By 1922, the hospital staff included 15 Sisters, a laboratory technician, a janitor, and a maid. And the hospital was overcrowded with beds standing in the halls. Stevens Point was growing; the hospital needed to grow, too. In the spring of 1924, a “citizens’ hospital committee held a banquet at the Hotel Whiting to discuss plans for an addition to the building.
Dr. Carl Von Neupert, Jr., a charter member of Saint Michael’s medical staff, made a plea for funds, but few dollars were raised and the campaign sputtered. Edward Oberweiser, president of the Whiting-Plover Paper Co., took the lead in 1926 and revived the campaign raising $190,000 in pledges, $10,000 short of the goal. The Sisters pledged $100,000.
In the end, the four-story addition on the north side of the old building cost nearly $290,000. To make up the difference, the Sisters issued $100,000 in bonds secured by a mortgage on the hospital. The nation’s financial system collapsed 1929, and it was years before the Sisters could pay off the mortgage.
But the addition, so badly needed, was built. The cornerstone was laid in 1927 and the first patients entered the new wing in August 1928. The addition included new operating rooms and surgical wards and the old operating rooms were converted to delivery rooms.
As the city grew and medical science advanced, the hospital continued to expand:
1928—A small house near the corner of Fremont and Prais Streets, for resident chaplains.
1929—Accreditation as a Class A Hospital.
1938—A new grotto, on the southeast corner of the grounds.
1944—An electrocardiogram (ECG) machine and a new addition to the rear of the hospital, with a laundry, a new boiler room, and new sewing and sleeping rooms for the Sisters.
1945—A fifth floor with a new surgical suite, added to the 1928 addition.
1947—Facilities for deep X-ray therapy and the first radiologist, Dr. J.A.Knights. A whirlpool donated by the Shriners.
1951—The north wing is finished with a sixth story and the Physiotherapy Department opens.
1952—Dictaphone equipment for the doctors to record medical histories.
1954—The first resident pathologist, Dr. Gerald E. Fox.
1959—A cardiac monitor, defibrillator, and pacemaker for use during surgeries.
1960—A new x-ray machine to replace the old one, and a portable x-ray machine.