The building pictured in today's column represents an example of the progression of medical care facilities in the Marshall area. The recently completed Avera Physicians' Office Building and the new Affiliated Community Medical Center also demonstrate both the contemporary sophistication and commitment of local and regional health care personnel in addition to the strong support of the served populations.
Since the establishment of Marshall as a city in 1872 and the arrival of medical care initially provided by itinerant physicians, a panoply of co-existing events has provided the citizens of the area the present status of excellent local modern health care facilities. I have reviewed several of these events in recent columns to give some background to the organizations and structures which are most notable in contemporary Marshall. Perhaps most prominent are the 1950 Louis Weiner Memorial Hospital, the 1963 Louis Weiner Memorial Nursing Home, and the 1977 Weiner Memorial Center; these three buildings are now known as the Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center, located in the Morningside Heights area of Marshall.
In the days of World War II, Marshall had two small proprietary (physician-owned) hospitals. The Marshall City Council, at the request of the mayor, appointed the City Post War Planning Board to evaluate Marshall's needs following the war. Construction of a community hospital was an important concern. A physician from Hendricks presented such an idea with his recommendation for serious consideration at a December 1944 Rotary meeting; Julius Weiner was in attendance and, upon consultation with his brother Ben, the Weiner family donated $150,000 to this goal. Two subsequent bond issues were subsequently approved by Marshall voters, and the Louis Weiner Memorial Hospital opened in May of 1950 with a staff of 12 physicians. This initial building now forms the north side of the present hospital complex.
Over the next 20 years, two additions and the nursing home were built to modernize the facility. In the early 1970s, several specialty-trained physicians in added to the staffs of Doctors' Plaza and the Weiner Memorial Hospital. At that time several changes were occurring on the medical-hospital scene including the development of Critical Care and Obstetrical units, often requiring more physician presence. More surgical procedures were being performed as an outpatient (not hospital based), and physicians needed to be close to those areas of care.
The hospital board and administrator Ron Jensen felt that either the 1950 hospital had to be significantly updated or a new hospital built which would include physician offices and new diagnostic studies. Dr. Gerhard Hartman, a professor of Health Planning at the University of Iowa, reviewed the situation and recommended that building a new hospital be considered. Construction began in the fall of 1975, and the new hospital with attached clinic was opened in the spring of 1977. Since that time the hospital boards and administrations have tried to keep the hospital abreast of modern medical recommendations, techniques, and pragmatic developments in spite of the constant demands of governmental requirements. These challenges and others, especially in the area of physician recruitment, prompted the hospital board to hire the management team from Avera Health initially for guidance and ultimately for purchase of the hospital in 2009.
In recent years, the Avera Health System has added several physicians and staff and built a connected Physicians' Office Building. A Center for Cancer Treatment is in the formation stages, and other modes of inpatient and outpatient therapies are planned.
My family and I moved to Marshall in the summer of 1975, and we and the population greatly benefited from the sophistication and futuristic attitudes of the senior members of the Doctors' Plaza, local physicians, other professionals and the hospital. Continuous improvements and modifications have occurred in the 38 years I have experienced the hospital as physician and patient. We are fortunate to have city and regional leaders who have provided us with excellent medical care and facilities, especially during the recent continuing growth of our city and region.