From accommodations for 15 patients to those for 150; from minimum facilities for care to a wide expanse of treatment-- thus is marked the progress of St. Joseph's hospital in Brainerd over an 81-year history.
Its beginnings date to 1890. and Dr. John Camp, a physician and surgeon serving log ging camps of the area. Dr. Camp that year started the Lumberman's hospital of 15 beds on First Avenue and Kindred.
Two years later, Dr. Camp purchased a site on the east bank of the Mississippi river at the end of Holly Street which was expanded to comprise nine acres. His junior partner in the transaction was Dr. J. A. Thabes, Sr., who went on to serve here for over 50 years.
In 1898, the Benedictine Sisters of Duluth came to Brainerd to take charge of the hospital, and two years later, it was sold to the Benedictine Sisters Benevolent association and became St. Joseph's hospital. Sister Christine Johnson was first supervisor.
There followed a series of re-modeling programs -- one in 1902, added a two-story wing; in 1922, another two-story wing; in 1948, an addition that provided power plant and laundry.
NORTHWESTERN HOSPITAL as it looked in 1908 when it was privately owned and operated by Dr. Joseph Nicholson on the corner of Eighth and Kingwood. Dr. Elmer Nicholson also served on the staff and Miss Ann Michaelson was superintendent of the hospital which accommodated from 20 to 25 patients.
In the year, 1953, an entire new hospital structure was added south of the 1902 wing. The over 140-bed hospital was con- structed at a cost of some $3 million with the Sisters association assisted by federal funds without seeking public subscription in the program.
Remodeling of various size followed from time to time up until the present, when an extensive $3.5 million program is underway. Again the Sisters have the help of some federal funds and, in addition, a sizeable contribution from the community at large.
This addition, expected to be completed this summer, will provide laboratory, x-ray, emergency, outpatient and dietary departments; both physical and occupational therapy areas and lobby.
Sister Mary Patrick is present hospital administrator, and Dr. William J. Knipp is chief of staff.