Griggs County Hospital

An institution to which Cooperstown residents can point with pride is the Griggs County Hospital.

The need for such a hospital had long been felt so with the advent of good times following the rugged "thirties" it was logical that the people of Griggs County should explore the possibilities of building one.

Stimulated by discussions at Cooperstown Commercial Club meetings in 1945, a skeleton organization, headed by C. P. Dahl, was set up which in turn laid the foundation for a permanent hospital organization. Dahl held two meetings to discuss the feasibility of the project before he found it necessary to resign the chairmanship. Mayor L. A. Sayer, and Rev. W. Ray Radliff, Presbyterian Pastor, carried the ball until a permanent organization was perfected and officers named.

In September, 1946 a permanent board was named consisting of the following members: C. S. Arneson, chairman; Mrs. S. L, Lemna, secretary; Carl D. Johnson, treasurer; and directors as follows: A. C. Loder, Ed Reiten, Oscar Thompson, Oscar Idsvoog, G. E. Sola, Albert Evers, B. M. Lunde, Arnt Stokka, William Pfeifer, C. B. Herigstad, Kimball St. Clair and Harry Kolpin. Rev. Radliff acted in the capacity of executive secretary.

A county-wide drive for funds was made early in 1946 but it was plainly evident that to build an acceptable hospital more funds would have to be available so the second drive, a planned campaign, got under way in December of that year. These drives resulted in an accumulation of approximately $100,000 in donations. This qualified the association to secure Federal Aid which resulted in the government assisting to the extent of $140,765.96. However, the total cost of the hospital, complete with furnishings neared the half million mark. Several drives were conducted before the Association was able to meet its share of the cost.

The hospital was constructed by Moline, Jamestown contractor. It was completed in 1950 and equipment installed by the first part of 1951. The first patient, E. S. Bardahl, was accepted February 15th. Two days later the first baby, a girl, was born to Mr. and Mrs. Einar Overby.

Dr. W. L. Fennell and Dr. K. M. Wakefield were accepted by the hospital board to set up the Cooperstown Clinic while Mrs. Robert Mack, R.N. was named superintendent of the hospital. Harold Kjelgaard was hired as maintenance supervisor and other domestic and professional help selected.

At present the clinic is staffed by Dr. Wakefield and Dr. R. L. Coultrip. Mrs. Arnold Syverson, R.N., is superintendent of the hospital.

The foregoing account only lightly discloses the tremendous struggle necessary to build a hospital of this type. For a time it seemed that the project might be more than the people of the community could reasonably handle but the tenacious determination of the sponsors coupled with a spirit of cooperation and generosity of the public-spirited citizens of the area finally brought the undertaking to fruition.

At the time of this writing the Griggs County Hospital had just received a donation of $11,400 from the Ford Foundation.

Source:  Cooperstown Diamond Jubilee 1882-1957 Page 33

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