National Hospital Week: It’s all about the people

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By: Joel Beiswenger, President/CEO

A hospital is far more than just a place where people go to heal. It’s a vital element of the community that encourages health and embodies hope. From providing treatment and comfort to the sick, to welcoming new life into the world, hospitals are central to healthy, vibrant and optimistic communities.

That’s the message Tri-County Health Care and other hospitals will emphasize during National Hospital Week, May 7-13, the nation’s largest health care event.

This annual event originated in 1921 when a magazine editor proposed the idea with the hope that a community-wide celebration might alleviate public fears about hospitals. The celebration was launched in Chicago and succeeded in establishing trust among members of the public, eventually spreading that trust to facilities across the country.

Above all, National Hospital Week is a celebration of people. Each member of our staff works diligently every day to meet the needs and improve the health of the communities we serve. We are extremely proud of the work ethic that is displayed each and every day.

That’s not all. This week also celebrates the history, technology and committed professionals that make our hospitals a shining example of compassion and care. The effects of the week are far reaching, offering many advantages throughout the year, such as enhanced departmental interaction, satisfied patients, staff retention, improved recruitment and increased community awareness.

This year, take the opportunity during  National Hospital Week to say thank you to all of the dedicated individuals who continuously promote health in our communities and beyond, whether physicians, providers, nurses, therapists, technicians, volunteers, food service workers, engineers, administrators and many more.

A Peek into the Past

Tri-County Health Care has a rich history of providing health care in this community, reaching all the way back to the 1920s. To celebrate this history, and in keeping with the National Hospital Week mission, here’s a brief snapshot of some key moments of health care’s long-past history in this area.

Wesley Hospital

1912: Dr. and Mrs. Charles Coulter open a hospital in a converted home at 321 Bryant Ave. SW in Wadena

1914-15: Drs. Kenyon and McKinnon run a hospital out of a home at 124 Second St. SE, Wadena.

1915: The Coulter hospital is passed to Dr. Luther Davis and renamed Davis Hospital.

1922: After discussions about building a Wadena hospital begin, the first contribution to this new hospital comes in 1922 in the form of $1 from a widow in Hewitt. In June, Wadena becomes first Minnesota city to start a White Cross chapter, a national organization geared to raising money for hospitals.

1923: The first dirt is moved for the Wesley Hospital’s construction.

1924: Wesley Hospital is officially dedicated on Nov. 30.

1925: Wesley Hospital opens for business at 4 p.m. on Jan. 30.

1928: The first class graduates from Wesley Hospital School of Nursing. It included Violette Colby, Viola Hirschey, Ruth Jacobson, Gertrude Palmer, Marie Trana, Helen Warmboe and Marion Willis.

1957: Dr. C.W. Parker approaches the Wadena Civic and Commerce members about the need for improvements in the Wesley Hospital.

1958: Work begins in mid-May on the 40×50-foot basement and two-story addition on the hospital’s east end. The hospital also adds a new basement kitchen, Hy-Lo beds, updated rooms, enclosed fire escapes, and the third floor was remodeled for obstetrics with a new delivery room and nursery.

1962: Wesley Hospital surpasses the 50,000 patient mark, averaging 1,090 patients per year.

1968: Local businessmen pro

pose a new hospital, as Wesley Hospital was no longer modern or up to date.

1971: Wesley Hospital is approved for a $1.9 million loan and the communities are challenged to raise the rest of the expected $2.1 million cost of a new 43,000-square-foot, 56-bed hospital.

1972: Builders break ground on Aug. 2 across the street from Wesley Hospital for the new Tri-County Hospital.

1974: Tri-County Hospital holds open house on Jan. 6.

Tri-County Health Care today








By the Numbers – Wesley Hospital


  • 3 carloads of cement (1,200 sacks)
  • 900 yards of gravel/sand
  • 2 carloads steel beams
  • 1 carload structural steel
  • 1 carload metal lathe
  • 196,000 tiles
  • 2 carloads Pyrobar
  • 5-ply asphalt roofing


  • 3 carloads rug face brick (76,000)
  • 1 carload cut stone
  • 550 sacks bricklayers’ cement
  • 5-ply asphalt roofing


  • 60 tons of plaster
  • 130 yards of sands


  • 116 windows
  • 120 doors
  • 18,000 square feet of floors
  • 4,700 lineal feet of base

Highlights from the 90th Celebration Block Party!

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Telling the story of Tri-County’s 90 years is a difficult task. There are so many facets – buildings, technology, medical advances and most importantly the people – our patients and our staff.

In researching our past 90 years many things have changed, including …
• In 1933, nurses were paid $2 for eight hours and $3 for 12 hours
• What did nurses do in the days of no disposables or plastics or care plans? They carried water, wash basins and bedpans.
• There was always laundry to do. In the winter, you stoked the coal furnace. There was no janitor or laundry personnel.
• Rubber gloves were carefully washed and dried, powered, blown into them to check for holes, then folded into cloth pockets to be re-autoclaved.
As part of the 90th anniversary celebration, Tri-County Health Care held their biggest block party on the lawn of the Wesley campus. It was a full day of day of fun that included a retirement tea, a baby reunion and a block party full of free food, entertainment, inflatables and activities for all ages.

Retirement Tea

Retirement Tea

The celebration started with a retirement tea on the Wesley lawn that honored our dedicated, retired employees. As one of the original marketing slogans said “Our People Make the Difference” and this event capitalized on recognizing the contributions of former staff.

Quotes overheard at the retirement tea …

Joel Beiswenger, CEO/President of TCHC speaking with guests at the Retirement Tea.

Joel Beiswenger, CEO/President of Tri-County Health Care, speaking with guests at the Retirement Tea.

· “Is this fun, or is this fun?”
· “Tri-County has good doctors and we practiced good medicine” ~ Dr. Leonard Lamberty
· “What a great way for those people to connect with old friends.”
· “When I was working Tri-County I felt like I was doing something good.”
· “I wish I would have kept a list of everyone I worked with.”
· “When I started working here there was no running water. Now, what a difference.”

Baby Reunion

Baby Reunion

The day continued with an early afternoon Baby Reunion. Babies born in Wesley and the parents who had children in the Wesley Hospital from 1925-1974 were invited to an event dedicated to them. The event was about reminiscing and sharing memories with one another and saying thank you for sharing such a special milestone with us.

Fun tidbits from the Baby Reunion
· The first baby was born in the Wesley Hospital on February 7, 1925
· The typical stay for a mom in the early years was 10 days.

Baby Reunion

Baby Reunion

· Back in the day, moms were not allowed to be discharged until the baby had a name. One woman shared her story that her mother needed to convince her nurse to discharge her despite her baby not having a name. The baby was nameless because the mom had promised dad that they could name the baby together. The problem was that at the time of the baby’s birth, dad was serving in the military overseas.
· One mom in attendance had 11 babies within 10 years – including a set a triplets and two sets of twins.
· The oldest mom in attendance was 99 1/2 , she had delivered her last two babies at the Wesley Hospital.
· The oldest baby born that was in attendance at the Baby Reunion was born in November of 1925.
· Of the approximately 100 people in attendance, the last baby born in Wesley Hospital was a woman who was born in October, 1973.

Block Party

Dinner being served by one of our food trucks at the Block Party.

The marquee event of the day was the block party from 4-8 p.m. on the Wesley Lawn. More than 1,200 people came to enjoy the music, kid’s activities, free food, great weather and friendship. It was a great way for Tri-County to say “THANK YOU” for allowing us to be part of your community for more than 90 years.

Quotes overheard …
· You couldn’t have scripted better weather.
· Wow. Everyone came.
· It’s phenomenal.
· There were a lot of people … and they kept coming.
· This is great, two thumbs up!
· It was nice. People lingered.

Kids climbing the rock wall at the Block Party.

Kids climbing the rock wall at the Block Party.

· People of all ages were having fun.
· This is awesome.
· Really, all of this? And, it’s all free? That’s great.
· I have never been to anything like this.
· It was like the state fair … only better.

The day was a complete success. Tell us what you enjoyed most about the festivities.

We hope that you will plan to join us next year!

Throwback Thursday: Looking back 90 years to Wesley Hospital

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Wadena was not completely without a hospital before 1925. For a short time, 1914-1915, Drs. Kenyon and McKinnon ran a hospital out of a home at 124 Second Street, Southeast. 

Dr. and Mrs. Coulter opened a hospital in a converted home at 321 Bryant Avenue, Southwest in 1912. In 1915 it was

Wesley Hospital - Founded in 1925

Wesley Hospital – Founded in 1925

passed on to Coulter’s successor, Dr. Luther A. Davis and renamed the Davis Hospital. Regardless of limited resources the doctor and his staff dedicated their talents to doing what they could. That was especially hard in 1918. 

“I was with you dear friends, through one of the saddest years that this town has ever known and will never forget – the year of the war and the flu,” said the Rev. C.H. Mocker at Wesley Hospital’s cornerstone laying ceremony November 15, 1923. A former Wadena pastor; he recalled how staff at the hospital had successfully restored health to his wife and son, and how a doctor had refused part payment for a surgery.

He also spoke about “how the hearse backed up to one door after another to claim the victims of the flu epidemic, how the doctors labored hard and long to do what they could for suffering humanity and how Dr. L.A. Davis had given his life because he persisted in ministering to the needs of the sick, long after his physical resources had been exhausted though hospital facilities were wholly inadequate during those days.” Dr. Davis dies in 1920 and his wife, Maie, continued to run the residence hospital. 

McCrea and others emphasized that a larger hospital in the community had the potential to provide more advanced health care. Dr. N.E. Davis, executive secretary of the Board of Hospitals and Homes of the Methodist Church reported that less than 5 percent of people in the hospitals died. 

“So a hospital is no place to go to die. If you want to go to heaven, stay away from the hospital,” he told the crowd in his speech at the cornerstone laying. “If you get sick and go to the hospital, be sure of this, that everyone there, every physician, every surgeon and every nurse in the hospital will try to keep you alive. We go to the hospital with the intention of finding out what is wrong with you. So we have the X-ray machines to look right straight through you. We examine your blood and every part of your body. If we cannot find out what is wrong with you, you haven’t got it. It is just above the collar.” 

With that kind of ideal optimism, leaders and residents accepted the mission to build a hospital. 

Healthy Times July 2015 Cover

Healthy Times July 2015 Cover

All they needed – they thought – was $50,000. 

*Excerpt out of the 75 Years Historical, heartwarming & humorous stories of Tri-County Hospital. 

Please join us on Tuesday, July 21st from 4-8 p.m. as we celebrate our 90th Year on the Wesley Hospital lawn right here in Wadena! There will be food, entertainment, games and giveaways! Click here for more details…