Medical Doctors of Cooperstown

Many doctors have served this community in the past one hundred years.  At some point, every town in the county seems to have had its own doctor in days when a ten-mile trip was a long one.  The earliest physician and surgeon in Griggs County was Dr. T. F. Kerr of New York.  He was an 1874 graduate of the University of Michigan and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York City.  He and Eliza, his wife, came to Griggs County in 1881.  Dr. Kerr also served as County Superintendent of Schools in Griggs County from 1882 to 1894.  Dr. Kerr left Cooperstown in 1905 because of poor health.

In May of 1883 Dr. George Newell came to Cooperstown where he opened the first drugstore, and gave up his practice except for surgical cases.  The reason Dr. Newell gave for giving up his practice was the long drives and the dark stormy nights.  Dr. Kerr attended to the country practice.

The fall of 1885, another doctor, Dr. J. M. McGuire, arrived in town.  He opened his office in the Cooperstown Drug Store, which was owned by 0.  Krogstad and R. A. Clausen.  In 1886, the partnership was dissolved and R. A. Clausen became the sole proprietor.  Many of the doctors who came to Cooperstown had interests in drug stores.  They dispensed their own medicines.

In July of 1885, Dr. Orrin Hayden came to Cooperstown.  No records were shown where he had his office.

Dr. G. L. Virgo from Page came to Cooperstown in July of 1887.  Dr. Virgo purchased the Gillespie building, where he had his office and opened a drug store.

July of 1888 brought another doctor to Cooperstown, Dr. Christian Wade], a Norwegian physician and surgeon.  He opened his office in the Independent building.  (The Independent was a short-lived newspaper in Cooperstown).

July 26, 1888, Dr. Nils Bergstrom arrived from Montevideo, Minnesota.  He operated a drug store in connection with his medical practice.  His brother, 01af had told him of the new village of Cooperstown.  Nils came to Cooperstown and was so impressed that he decided to locate here.  He found office space in the new Palace Hotel.  In 1888, Dr, Newell sold his drug store to S. Almklov.  Dr. Newell suffered a stroke in 1890 and returned to Rochester, Wisconsin.  He died in 1898.

Dr. Ludwig L. Platou and Dr. William B. Wanner came to Cooperstown in 1894.  Dr. Platou was from Norway.  Both doctors had their offices over Enger's Hardware Store on Burrell.

Dr. Carl L. Brimi of Eau Claire, Wisconsin was the next doctor.  He arrived January 17, 1898.  Dr. Brimi graduated from Rush Medical College, Chicago and interned at Norwegian American Hospital in Chicago.  His reason for coming to Cooperstown is unknown but perhaps the good proportion of Norwegian settlers in this area was an important consideration.  His office was in the Syverson's bank building.  Dr. Brimi's calls took him all over the area, from Dazey to McHenry and McVille to Finley.  His calls were made with livery stable teams and rigs and later auto mobiles were used, weather permitting.  Kitchen table surgery had to be performed sometimes in emergencies.  The usual emergency was a farm accident involving hands caught in machinery or a broken bone or two.  There were also many tragedies.

In December of 1899, Dr. Brimi received $200.00 worth of surgical equipment, in addition to the large assortment he already had, which made a very large inventory of surgical instruments for the time.  He also purchased an improved operating chair.  Dr. Brimi was rapidly building up a large practice.  For many years Dr. Brimi was county coroner, superintendent of the board of health and official physician for the railroads.  Outbreaks of scarlet fever, typhoid fever and diphtheria called for house quarantines and school closings, virtually unknown today.  Worst of all was the historic influenza epidemic of 1918.  Dr. Brimi, just out of the Army, found himself to be one of the few physicians available to the county in this crisis.

Dr. W.L. Burnap arrived in Cooperstown in 1903.  He and Dr. Brimi were in partnership.  It was announced that Dr. Brimi and Dr. Burnap had under consideration the possibility of starting a city hospital.

Dr. Brimi held various offices in state medical associations.  Dr. Brimi died very suddenly at the age of 48, January 25, 1925.

Dr. M.D. Westley established a medical practice in Cooperstown in 1904.  He was a graduate of Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota and Jefferson Medical College (now Temple University) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He practiced in Cooperstown until his death in 1946.  He was a son of a pioneer Cooperstown area family.

Dr. Leif Almklov was graduated with a degree in medicine from Hamline University, St. Paul, Minnesota.  He practiced in Cooperstown from 1906 until retirement in 1951.  He was the son of S. Almklov who purchased the drug store from Dr. Newell.

Dr. Kent Westley, son of Dr. M.D. Westley, practiced in Cooperstown in his father's old office for a short time in 1947.  For a short time around 1949, Dr. Milton Johnson practiced here in that office.

In 1951 Cooperstown had a new hospital and several doctors.  Dr. K.M. Wakefield who came from Gackle, North Dakota

Dr. L. Fennell, newly arrived from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Dr. L. Almklov, still practicing in Cooperstown, Dr. Beck in Sharon and Dr. O.D. Dekker in Finley had admitting privileges at the hospital.  In 1955 Dr. Fennell resigned from the hospital staff.  Dr. Beck was here for a few months in 1955.   April of 1956 found Dr. R.L. Coultrip in partnership with Dr. Wakefield.  In 1957 Dr. T.A. Harris came and spent one and one-half years here.

From May of 1960 to June of 1962, Dr. Lars Vistnes practiced here.  After that, Dr. George Skelly spent one year in Cooperstown.  In December of 1965, Dr. Peter Patton from London, England joined the Wakefield clinic.  He spent six and one-half years in Cooperstown.  December of 1973, Physician's Assistant, Don Bradshaw came to Cooperstown under the UND Medex Program to work with Dr. Wakefield.

In 1977 Dr. Wakefield left Cooperstown to join the University of North Dakota Family Practice Center in Fargo, which at that time had offices on the North Dakota State University campus.

Dr. Norman Kester came to Cooperstown in August of 1977.  He practiced here alone for four months until Dr. Robert Pierce Joined him in January of 1978.  They practiced together until July of 1979 when the hospital contracted with an organization to supply doctors until a permanent doctor or doctors could be found.  Some of the following spent weekends while others spent one week to three months.  From July of 1979 until the fall of 1980 we have had Drs.:

George Rosenthal

Edward Bowles

Hugh Patterson

Dane McKenzie

Donald Baker

Charles Stafford

John Worden

William Mumford

Habiboola Niamathali

Burton Heleloid

R. W. Bos

W. K. Chang

William Christensen

William Keig

Laurie Hakala

Robert Rowed

Nishira Naser

Steven DeCock

Dr. J. K. Ramaiya began his practice in Cooperstown October 15, 1980.  Dr. Ted Banach spent three weeks in Cooperstown in November when Dr. Ramaiya was on vacation.

January 5, 1955 Jovone’ Mack, R.N., resigned as superintendent of nurses.  Ruth Syverson, R.N. of Sharon accepted the position January 10, 1955.  She resigned August 15, 1965 and Beulah Baird, R.N. accepted the position effective immediately.

Griggs County felt a growing need for a nursing home in our area.  Many local residents were in nursing homes 50 to 100 miles away from Cooperstown.  Because Cooperstown was the county seat, centrally located and also had the hospital and doctors, it was decided to conduct a drive to solicit pledges and donations to build a nursing home in Cooperstown.  The Griggs County Nursing Home was opened December 6, 1971.  Merle Haerter, R.N. was superintendent of nurses of the nursing home.  There were fifty beds available.

Federal laws stated that an administrator was necessary for a nursing home and hospital so Tom McMorrow was hired to fill the position.  Mr. McMorrow resigned from his position December 1, 1974 and Gary Ryba was hired to fill that position, until August 15, 1977 when he resigned.  Douglas Dale was hired as administrator in July of 1977.  Beulah Baird, R.N. continued to work in the capacity of Director of Nursing until June 30, 1978 when she retired.  No one had applied for the position so Shirley Erickson, R.N. was hired as acting Director of Nursing.  September 11, 1978, Dawn Satrom, R.N. applied and was accepted for the position.  During all this time the hospital was in the process of recruiting doctors.  Douglas Dale resigned as administrator December 31, 1979 and Richard Spilovoy was hired for the position of Administrator of Griggs County Hospital and Nursing Home, a position he still holds.

Dawn Satrom resigned September 30, 1981 and Rebecca Dunker, R.N. is the present Director of Nursing.

There have been many changes since the opening of the hospital thirty years ago, not only in doctors, nurses, aides, housekeepers, cooks, kitchen aides, laboratory, business offices, medical records, x-ray, janitors but in new departments as well.  A respiratory therapy department was opened June 1, 1981.  This is a twenty-four hour service available to hospital and nursing home patients as well as outpatients.  In August of 1981, a physical therapy department was made available two days a week to the hospital, nursing home and outpatients.  They are affiliated with Mercy Hospital in Valley City.

In 1976 the hospital celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary and honored Carl 0.  Johnson, who had been a member of the board and its treasurer since the board organized; Dr. K.M. Wakefield, who had been on the medical staff; and Beulah Baird, R.N. who had been on the nursing staff since the hospital opened.

Source: Cooperstown, North Dakota 1882-1982 Centennial Page 167 

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