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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"

Chapter  17 - The Medical Fraternity 

Luther Hospital

(-as transcribed from pages 308 - 312)

Efforts to establish a Protestant hospital in Eau Claire were made as early as 1895.  But no practical results from this or subsequent attempts were obtained until 1905, when it was decided by some ministers attending a United Church convention at Menomonie, Wis., to call a mass meeting to consider said matter.

At this mass meeting, which was held at Eau Claire, February 9, 1905, it was unanimously resolved to establish a Protestant hospital in Eau Claire to be called Luther Hospital.  Thereupon two committees were elected, one for incorporation and one for soliciting funds.

On the first of May, 1905, the hospital association was incorporated by John Gaustad, M. O. Waldal, Peder Tangjerd, Alfred Cypreansen and Peder B. Treltsad.

The Hoyme property, on which an option had previously been secured, was bought July 31, 1905, and an adjoining property secured later on.  During the fall of 1906 the basement wall of the proposed hospital was built and the building proper erected during the summer and fall of 1907.  On account of unavoidable  delay cornerstone laying and dedication was deferred until Sunday, August 30, 1908, the main speeches being delivered by Congressman Lenroot and President J. N. Kindahl, of St. Olaf College.  But five months earlier on March 30, 1908, Luther Hospital threw open its doors to receive the unfortunate sick of the community and accomplish the glorious work for which it was established.

The articles of incorporation and by-laws of Luther Hospital provide for an association, the membership of which is open to all upon the payment of a membership fee of $10.00 and a due of $1.00 annually.  The present membership is over 100.  It has been as high as 272.

The general management of the hospital is vested in a board of directors of five members (originally nine), of which a majority must belong to some Lutheran church.  This board may appoint additional officers, make by-laws, rules and regulations and have general control and supervision of the affairs of the corporation, subject to the association.

The first board of directors were:  George M. Rand, Syver Rekstad, S. O. Mauseth, P. B. Trelstad, Peder Tangjerd, H. C. Hanson, M. O. Waldal, L. I. Roe and T. Slagsvol.  M. O. Waldal was elected president, L. I. Roe vice-president, Peder Tangjerd secretary and H. C. Hanson treasurer.  Besides these the following have served as directors:  Carl Lundquist, M. O. Soley, A. Anderson, Alfred Cypreansen, H. M. Knudtson, Gunder Thompson and Chr. Midelfart.

The special management of the hospital is vested in a "directing sister" (deaconess), who shall admit and receive pay from patients, purchase provisions, direct the training school, secure the necessary help and have general supervision of patients, sisters, nurses and other workers of the institution, subject to the board and corporation.  As it proved impossible from the beginning to secure any deaconess the board was fortunate enough to secure the services of an exceedingly able graduate nurse from the Augustana Hospital, Chicago, Ill., Miss Ida C. L. Isaacson.  As superintendent of nurses she had opened two hospitals before, and Luther Hospital had the benefit of her experience, as she practically directed the furnishing of the hospital (the purchase of operating and sterilizing outfits, furniture, bedding, medical and surgical supplies, provisions, etc.), started the training school and worked to secure such patronage from the doctors and general public as was necessary that the hospital might be able to perform the work for which it was established.

After her resignation Miss Margaret Thomas, of this city, served as superintendent of nurses about eight months until at last Luther Hospital, in accordance with its original plan of organization, secured the services of a deaconess from the Norwegian Lutheran Deaconess' Home and Hospital, Chicago, our able present directing sister, Amalia Olson, under whose wise direction Luther Hospital and its training school have become such a marked success.  On July 17, 1912, the hospital was fortunate enough to secure the services of another deaconess from the Chicago mother home, Sister Agnes Daae, who has proved herself a very efficient and valuable assistant.

After thorough investigation the beautiful home and grounds of the late Rev. G. Hoyme, president of the United Norwegian Lutheran of American, was unanimously decided upon as hospital site.  It is located near the center of the city in a residence section, away from the busy business streets and the noise and smoke of the factories and railroads.  A fine view may be had from the hospital to a small lake two blocks away; and the street cars running by afford easy access from all directions.  Luther Hospital, when completed according to plans, will consist of three parallel buildings, planned so as to admit air, light and sunshine in every sick room and connected with a corridor, reaching from street to street, crossing all the three buildings, a distance of about 200 feet.  The central building (the one now in use) is 81x43 feet, and the two wing buildings will be about 115x45 feet each, all of them three stories beside basement and attic.  The west wing to be built as soon as possible will be called Sigvald Qvale Memorial.  At the present time the hospital consists of three buildings:  the above mentioned main or central building, the laundry and the nurses' home, the late Rev. Hoyme's residence.  This is a large commodious wooden building with ample accommodations for the nurses.

The building is fireproof, only floors, doors, casings and window frames being of wood.  Elevator and stair opening are inclosed to prevent draft, and the roof is covered with slate, so the building practically cannot burn, an extremely important thing in a hospital.

The building is equipped with Paul vacuum system for even distribution of heat and the direct-indirect ventilation to secure pure fresh air in rooms and corridors.  The laundry was permanently located in a separate concrete building (24x36) in the rear.  It is fitted up with steam, hot and cold water and electric current, ready for the machinery.  With the exception of the dry house none of the permanent machinery has yet been installed, however.  The home is fitted up for the nurses, the whole second floor being used for dormitory.  The first floor contains a large commodious nurses' parlor, three smaller sleeping rooms and a patients' ward of seven beds.  As the present hospital building will form the main or central part of the completed building it had to be arranged so that all the important special hospital accessories were placed there.  The office, waiting room, elevator as well as the operating, culinary and heating departments must therefore necessarily by located in said building in order to conveniently serve the two wings or buildings to be erected on both sides later on.  When all buildings are completed this central part will most likely be used exclusively for administration and nurses' home.  The basement contains the X-ray department, kitchen, storage and pantry rooms, service kitchen, dining room, beside a couple of rooms now used by the help.  Ambulance entrance to elevator is also to be found here.  First floor has office, waiting room, service kitchen, toilet rooms, dressing room, men's ward, drug room and five private rooms.  Second floor is arranged like the first, only instead of office and waiting rooms there are two more private rooms.  Third floor has the same amount and arrangement of private rooms as the second.  But here we find the all important operating department, which is entirely separated from the rest of the floor.  First an ante-room with lockers.  To the left instrument room.  Straight ahead the sterilizing room with the two operating rooms, one on each side.  The equipment is first class.  Sterilizing outfit, operating tables, instruments, etc., are of the most up to date.  Furniture, bedding, etc., are of a better quality than found in most hospitals.  The best is none too good for the unfortunate sick and suffering.

Ever since Luther Hospital opened its doors its aim has been to be strictly modern in every way.  We are very glad to announce that since our last report was issued we have been able to make another much needed improvement by the establishment of an X-ray department and that we are now in position to meet the great demands for X-ray work.  The apparatus used is of the very latest modern type and the equipment is complete in every detail.  No expense has been spared to bring everything as near perfection as possible and our department represents the last word in X-ray work.  It is possible with this apparatus to make a picture of any part of the body in a few seconds, eliminating the danger at one time present when it was necessary to make an exposure of several minutes or hours.  The best of machinery and instruments, however, are of little or no value without a competent person in charge.  We consider ourselves very fortunate in having secured so able and experienced a man for this department as Dr. Baird.  Both the institution and the city of Eau Claire are to be congratulated that our X-ray department is in charge of a man of such experience and ability.  The high grade of work done is attested by the constantly increasing patronage of the department.

Since March 23, 1908, when three pupils were admitted to the Luther Hospital Training School for Nurses, there has been made a rapid progress.  We have been fortunate to secure enough applicants and every year brings us more than we can take care of.  From March, 1908, to January, 1909, Miss Isaacson had charge of the training school and Miss Margaret Thomas from February, 1909, till October, 1909.  Since November, 1909, the training school has been in charge of Sister Amalia, who for almost three years had the able assistance of Miss Howland, who on account of ill health was force to resign from her duties. Fortunately Sister Agnes arrived in time to begin with the fall work of 1912.

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