Grant Regional Health Center, formerly known as Lancaster Memorial Hospital, opened its doors on Sept. 19, 1955, but plans for development started 10 years earlier. In 1945 a small group of citizens began considering the possibility of a new hospital. It wasn’t until 1952, when Lancaster became eligible for government grants, that a new group, under the chairmanship of Albert Weber, started planning again.
In 1953 Mrs. Sumpter (Lulu) Williams provided the bulk of her estate ($81,585) to assist in the construction of a municipal hospital. Thirteen communities surrounding Lancaster voted to tax themselves $80,000 to be used to help build the hospital. In addition, more than $25,000 was given in unsolicited private donations. The 36-bed hospital was built at a total cost of more than $600,000. The cooperation of generous citizens of the city of Lancaster and the surrounding communities made this possible.
The hospital's history has been a story of continual progress to keep pace with the constantly changing field of health care. In 1956 there were 17 physicians on the hospital staff. The hospital had 24 full-time employees and 10 part-time employees. Services included a business office, x-ray, anesthesia, surgery, obstetrics, maintenance, dietary services and laundry. In 1962 a new wing was opened because of overcrowding, and the hospital became a 56-bed institution.
In 1973 another major expansion project took place—the building of a new south wing for administration. New departments and services, such as physical therapy and social services, were added. In 1975 the three-bed intensive care unit, complete with cardiac monitors, went into operation. Later that year the hospital emergency services expanded from one room to three rooms. In 1979 a number of patient rooms were taken out of service, reducing the number of beds to 50. Patient space was again decreased in 1981 to accommodate additional services. In January 1985 the patient-bed capacity was reduced again to 35.
A hospice suite was built in 1993 thanks to a large contribution from the hospital Auxiliary. In September that same year, Grant Regional Health Center acquired the Fennimore Clinic, located approximately 12 miles north, and in June 1995 the health center opened the Potosi-Tennyson Medical Clinic, located approximately 11 miles south. In 1994 new construction was added to the hospital to provide space for occupational health and sports medicine programs.
In 1999 Grant Regional Health Center completed a $5.9 million construction and equipment project. With that expansion, the hospital made a significant commitment to the community to meet existing and future needs for health care services. The the project included expansion of the outpatient, emergency and surgery departments, allowing for greater capabilities and improved services. As a major component in effort to provide greater convenience, Grant Community Clinic relocated to the Madison Street level of the new campus. The project also included a central entry location and improved patient and visitor circulation through out the facility.
The hospital's most recent change has been in status. Grant Regional Health Center has applied with the state of Wisconsin to be designated as a critical access hospital. The new status will allow the hospital more flexibility with many federal rules and regulations. In addition, the hospital will be eligible for a higher level of payment from Medicare. Patients will receive the same services and high-quality care with this new status. The majority of the changes will be made to internal operations.
Today Grant Regional Health Center provides a wide array of health care services and continually strives to stay current with the latest trends appropriate for our service area.