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Kittson County War Veterans Memorial Hospital


Dan Twamley

From the beginning of recorded history man has shown definiteneeds in his livelihood. Among these needs is the need to have medicinesand places where the medicines can be administered under expert direction.

In the pioneer days of Kittson County no medical facilitiesexisted and it was common for the sick or wounded to lie on a stretcherfor many hours at a time awaiting a train to take them to Grand Forks, NorthDakota or Winnipeg, Manitoba where the near-est hospitals were located. Since there were no automobiles or hospitals, the doctor would have totravel up to forty miles into the wilderness on horseback to visit his patients.

In 1908 a small number of people started a movement toestablish a hospital located in Hallock, the county seat. The doctors atthe time opposed the project and the movement was brought to a halt.

Again in 1912 efforts were made to establish a hospitalbut sufficient funds could not be obtained and again the striving for abetterment of the county ended in failure.

As the first world war drew to a close interest ran highamong people to secure a fitting memorial for those from the county whodied in battle.

In 1919 a plan was approved to build a hospital as thememorial and a contract was made with the Isak Helseth Contracting Companyto build the hospital at a cost of 70,000 dollars. Finally, after the dreamsof many people, the one thing was being done that would be a benefit tomankind.

It is interesting to note that the men who did the laborin constructing this building were paid 35 cents an hour.

The hospital, when completed, was then officially openedon March 29, 1922.

The hospital was a very modern structure, being made ofbrick and stone, with the best of medical equipment. There were 36 bedsin the hospital with the patients rates set at $2.l5 per day for semi-privaterooms and $4.00 a day for a private room.

Six nurses operated the institution with one of the nursesin charge. The nurses received $45.00 a month for their services. MissAnna Erlandson was the first head nurse. Forty-six years after the startof the hospital one of the first six nurses, Miss Ellen Larson, retiredfrom a lifetime job with the Kittson County Hospital.

In the first year of operation the hospital gave the necessarytreatments to 486 patients, 214 of whom were surgical cases. Of all thepatients the first year of operation, there were only 14 persons who died.

The first present of the hospital board of directors wasMr. J.H. Bradish, with the first doctor of the hospital Dr. A.W.Shalum filling the position of Vice-President. Mr. R.V. Blothen was thefirst Secretary with Mr. G. Goodman being the first treasurer.

The first years of service were hard ones, and money topay for the expenses was very hard to come by. In 1933, the hospital faceda financial crisis which nearly closed it, but the generous doctors offeredto loan the administration $l,500 so that it might continue to serve thepeople. The American Legion Posts of the county as well as other generousorganizations offered their support to help carry the hospital over thistremendous obstacle. In 1936, the hospital was granted a $2 allowance foreach day of care for the county welfare patients, by the county board ofcommissioners.

In 1946, the need for a new hospital arose when it becameapparent that the facilities offered by the hospital were not adequate tohandle the patients.

After several special meetings of all interested persons. L.C. Ward, President of the hospital board, was requested to raise theneeded funds for the construction of a new hospital. After many trips toMinneapolis and St. Paul, Mr. Ward acquired grants so that a new hospitalcould be built. Contracts were then let and the hospital was soon to becomeavailable.

At the time of the closing of the old hospital in 1958,it was purchased by the county for 150,000 dollars. The building was thenrefurnished by the county and was put into use as a much needed nursinghome.

On June 15, 1958, Reverend L.0. Anderson dedicated thenew hospital and it was opened to patients. The new hospital which wasbuilt at a cost of 550,000 dollars was situated on three acres of land donatedthe county by Oscar Nelson.

Modern in every way, it has oxygen piped into every room,is fully air conditioned and has the most up-to-date medical equipment itis possible to obtain.

The structure was built by the J.H. Roel Associates ofFargo, N.D., with Wells & Denbrook of Grand Forks as the architects. It is a brick building with all the patients rooms located on the firstfloor. The kitchen, laundry and equipment rooms are located in the basement.

Changes from the old hospital were very great indeed, andthe room rates also went up. In the new structure the rates are 25 dollarsa day for a semi-private room and 27 dollars for a private room.

The need for a nursing home addition presented itself inthe early 1960's. Because of all the conveniences which would be offeredit was decided that the new nursing home structure would be annexed ontothe hospital. The planning of the new addition was begun in 1962 and constructionstarted in 1967. The structure was built under the direction of the generalcontractor, Joe Sheer & Co., with Wells & Denbrook as the architectsand was completed in July of 1968 when it was then opened to the public.

The new structure cost a sum of 540,000 dollars to buildand furnish. This new 40 bed structure truly portrays a picture of thenew ways of thinking with its large bright rooms, carpeted halls, and gaycolors. Another of the new ideas which is brought out, is the dining areawhere those people who are able, gather each day to have their meals.

Rooms for art and handicraft are located in the basementand are truly enjoyed by the patients. A chapel located in the basementis filled each Sunday as different members of the clergy of the county offertheir services.

The peoples needs who inhabit this now being met with greatgusto and success in this modern nursing home. The combined worth of thehospital and nursing wing is in excess of 1,250,000 dollars.

The hospital is under the administrative staff headed byEdward McMillian, Administrator, Mrs. Ruby Knutson is the assistant administrator,with Mrs. Alma Lendahl R.N. as head nurse. The new nursing home structureis under the supervision of Mrs. James Burton, R.N.

The governing body of 15 members is headed by L.C. Ward,President; Clarence Beck, Vice-President; Mrs. Allen Berg, Secretary; andWarren Isley, Treasurer. The present doctors of this institution are Dr.Martin and Dr. Larter.

This medical center is a credit to Kittson County and tothe people it serves. Seldom does a county of this size have a hospitaland connections with as much modern medical facilities as is found in KittsonCounty.


Ward, L.C., President of Hospital Board. February 10, 1969

Kittson County Enterprise P.25 50th Anniversary Issue

Dedication Program, Dedication of Kittson County MemorialHospital. June 15, l958

Mrs. James Burton, R.N., Head Nurse of Nursing Wing. February22, 1969

Knutson, R.N., Mrs. Ruby, Head Nurse of Hospital. February24, 1969

McMillian, Edward, Administrator of Hospital. February22, 1969

Miscellaneous Papers of the hospital, under supervisionof L.C. Ward. February 24, 1969


Miscellaneous Papers of the hospital, under supervisionof L.C. Ward. February 24, 1969