As we closed out 2018, I found myself reflecting on the past, present and future of Winona Health and the overall healthcare industry. There are just over 5,000 hospitals in operation in the U.S. today, yet few can claim a 125-year history. In 1873 there were 178 hospitals in the U.S.
and a short 21 years later, local physicians and community visionaries in Winona came together and in 1894, Winona’s first hospital was founded. The name and locations have changed throughout the years: from the Langley Home to Winona General Hospital to Community Memorial Hospital to Winona Health. But the mission to serve the community has remained steadfast throughout time.
The early 1900s saw a rapid increase in hospitals across the country, and the healthcare industry took root. At its height, there were over 7,000 hospitals in the U.S. What I find fascinating about the history of hospitals is that there are resonant themes across the arc of time – changing
reimbursement, advancing technology, development of clinical expertise, the presence of mental health care and the changing health needs of the people served. In fact, the advent of hospitals was to serve the poor, and it was through philanthropy and other forms of support that hospitals
were founded and supported. But that wasn’t sufficient funding even over 100 years ago, and government programs were started to shore up the need.
Winona Health’s history is rich and deep and always focused on this community. The current time has a lot of noise about large systems, massive mergers of organizations, bigger is better and so forth. However, none of that has borne out. In fact, the effect has been increased costs, more utilization of services, and a focus on financial engineering to stay afloat rather than the primary mission of nonprofit hospitals – caring for those in need.
The majority of healthcare needed and provided in the U.S. is primary care. The advancements in technology have also expanded what primary care is – at Winona Health this includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, general surgery, plastic and cosmetic surgery, sports medicine and general orthopedics, podiatry, women’s health, eye care, dermatology, emergency medicine, urgent care, occupational health, radiology/imaging, psychiatry and behavioral health, rehabilitation services, wellness programs, hospice, long-term care, assisted living, pharmacy, and durable medical equipment (DME). This is our sweet spot at Winona Health, and our physicians, clinicians and support staff do an outstanding job. And this list isn’t complete — we offer many specialized services such as care coordination, cancer care, dialysis, and more.
The sign of a thriving organization is its ability to evolve with the times. Winona Health has demonstrated a remarkable ability to meet the needs of the time over the past 125 years and will continue to do so. Our current approaches are integrated with other community services and
I have long admired Winona’s culture of taking care of its own. This has served the community well over time. Thank you for your ongoing support. It is an honor and privilege to care for our community.
Explore Winona Health’s deep roots in the community.
Rachelle Schultz, EdD
Through this digital column, I hope to shine a light on what we’re working on both internally and beyond our walls in collaboration with other community-focused organizations.