Marshfield Historical Index
Norwood Health Center
Norwood Health Center got its beginning in 1909 when the Wood
County Board passed a resolution to build a "County Insane Asylum"
at a cost not to exceed $130,000. After reviewing several sites,
the County Board approved a site in Marshfield. The city's
newspaper announced with pride that Marshfield was indeed
fortunate to be awarded the site. The site, located along County
Highway A, adjacent to the current industrial park, was awarded
"due largely to the fact that it is located on two lines of
railroad..." The Marshfield News, November 25, 1909.
It included 640 acres of prime farm land. Work began on the
County Asylum on June 10, 1910 and was completed the following
Mr. and Mrs. L. E. Gilson were appointed the first S
uperintendent and Assistant. The building, which had a capacity of
250 mental patients, was staffed with 19 employees. Much of the
care in the early days could be viewed as "protective" in nature.
In addition, "work therapy" was utilized to a great extent as
psychiatric medicines had yet to be developed. Many patients
were expected to work at the facility performing daily farm
chores. They were not paid. Over the years, this farm became
one of the more respected operations in the county.
As the field of mental health progressed, psychiatrists,
psychologists, and nurses became more prominent caregivers.
As such, the name of the "Wood County Asylum" was changed to
"Wood County Hospital" in 1938. The number of patients cared
for at the facility remained relatively stable for the first
fifty to sixty years. Many were transported via the railroads
from other counties who did not have a county hospital.
In the late 1960's a significant change in the way county
hospitals could operate occurred. Laws were enacted which
forbade using patients of mental hospitals to perform free
labor. Thus, the economics of the farm operations became less
financially viable. "Farmwork" was no longer a recognized form
of therapy. More energy was put into treating the mentally ill
with medicine and talk therapy. This led to patients being
discharged back to homes much quicker and the eventual demise
of the county operated farm.
By 1972, the hospital's original capacity of 250 patients was
only being utilized at about 50%. In addition, the main treatment
building was quickly becoming outdated and in need of replacement.
A decision was made to build a new facility which would allow more
community integration of the patients.
In 1972 the current site at 1600 North Chestnut Avenue was chosen
as the site for the new Norwood Health Center, Fears for the
danger mental patients posed to community members were
On March 25, 1974, approximately 100 patients, and their
belongings were moved into Norwood Health Center.
The year 1974 also brought about changes in licensing requirements
for people being treated in facilities such as Norwood Health
Center. Previously, Norwood was licensed as a County Mental
Hospital. Patients came to Norwood with diagnoses of Mental
Illness, Mental Retardation, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse. This
was subsequently changed to segregate the disabilities into
different licenses. Thus, Norwood Health Center became
licensed as a Specialty Psychiatric Hospital and Nursing Home.
In 1988, the licensure of the facility would change again to
include a special license for the treatment of adults with
developmental disabilities. Currently, services are provided
primarily to Wood County residents in need of short term
emergency Mental Health care, as well as long term care for
the Chronically Mentally Ill, and Developmentally Disabled,
In addition, surrounding counties refer patients for the
services provided at Norwood.
The facility continues to be owned by Wood County and
employs about 140 full and part time staff.
Submitted by Randy Bestul, Administrator
This information was made possible by the Marshfield History Project and has been contributed by: Donald Schnitzler and we would like to thank him.
Currently there is no email for Donald, so lookups are not available at this time.
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