Marinette County WIGenWeb - Centennial History - Medical & Hospital Care

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Medical and Hospital Care

One of Marinette's first citizens was Jonathan Cory Hall, the first doctor on the Menominee River. Dr. Hall arrived in 1842; however, his practice of medicine was subordinate to his interests in teaching, lumbering, and politics.

In 1853, J.J. Sherman, a native of New York, came to Marinette and began to study with Dr. Hall. Over the years, he studied medicine, intermittently, at Rush Medical College in Chicago, and graduated from there in 1881. Dr. Sherman was also active in politics and education, as Town Assessor, Treasurer and Clerk, Justice of the Peace, school teacher, Postmaster at Menekaunee, and the first Sheriff of Marinette County.

Ben R. Hall was the first native son of Marinette to become a doctor; he graduated from Rush in 1871, and began his medical career treating survivors of the Peshtigo Fire. Like his father, medicine was not his primary interest, and he later abandoned his profession, and returned to the woods which he loved, as a surveyor and timber cruiser.

The first full-time physician in Marinette was Dr. S.P. Jones, who came in 1867. Other early physicians were Dr. Frank Gregory and Dr. G.F. Coulter.

The beginnings of hospital care in Marinette County followed soon after the new county was formed. In 1884, the Menominee River Hospital was opened in Marinette by Dr. Horace Mann, who had completed medical training in New York in 1874. Because of the nature of lumbering, and the constant influx of inexperienced workers, accident cases were numerous and varied. The hospital was adjacent to the railroad tracks, and injured men were brought in by handcar. On one occasion, a lumberjack with a broken thigh was brought in strapped from head to foot to a tree, which kept him immovable, and served as an effective splint until the bone could be set.

Initially, only male patients were admitted; women were confined at home, where they were attended by midwives. Since only the most seriously ill were hospitalized, it was sometimes difficult to persuade a patient to go to the hospital for treatment, since many were afraid this implied that they might not recover.

John E. Boren entered the hospital as a typhoid patient in 1885, and remained to become its superintendent for more than half a century. The Boren name became almost synonymous with medicine in the area, since his sons, and later his grandsons, entered the profession and practiced here. His daughter, Esther, became a nurse and his assistant superintendent.

The first medical insurance plan in the county was put into effect soon after the hospital opened. A premium of ten dollars a year provided the purchaser with medical and surgical services, and out-patient medical supplies. The Peshtigo Lumber Company, under agreement with a group of doctors from Marinette, provided workers at Peshtigo Harbor with medical care for $1.25 per month per family, or $.75 per month for a single person. This was deducted from the worker's wages, and he was allowed to choose which of the doctors in the group he wished to treat him.

The hospital was incorporated as the M&M [Marinette & Menominee] Hospital in 1899. By 1908, the staff included Drs. M.D. Bird, H.F. Schroeder, Sherman C. Wright, A.T. Nadeau, and S. Berglund.

The life of the doctor, in those days, was rigorous: morning and afternoon work in the hospital; office hours in the afternoon and evening; and house calls at any hour of the day and night. Many doctors had their offices in their homes, and some dispensed medicines, themselves. The horse and buggy permitted the doctor a short nap on his way home from a late (or early) call to the country, and advantage not available when the automobile came into use. However, old habits persist, and exhaustion will have its way; "falling asleep at the wheel" brought at least one of these dedicated practitioners to the hospital as a patient more than once.

After more than a half century of service, plans for replacing the old M&M Hospital were considered by the county board. In 1938, with a Public Works Administration grant, a public subscription fund, and a county bond issue, work got underway on the new hospital, to be located off Shore Drive, near Green Bay.

Marinette General Hospital opened in 1940, with a medical staff of 35 physicians, including Drs. Bird, Schroeder, and Nadeau, who had been with the old M&M Hospital more than 30 years.

In 1966, the hospital added and extended care unit, and by 1972, Marinette General Hospital had grown to become a 175 bed hospital.

(Marinette County Centennial 1879-1979, p. 9)

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