Happy 125th anniversary to Winona Health! This remarkable milestone is a testament to a deep commitment and unwavering service to the Winona community over more than a century. Certainly, there have been times of change in the past, like there are today. Through it all, those involved with Winona Health have had the courage, the confidence and the belief that a community-owned hospital is best suited to care for the community’s primary healthcare needs, and they took enormous pride in the community, its businesses and its people who continued to make it so.

To that point, I was looking through a book called the Cornerstone Book, which is a historical document capturing the advent of the (then) new hospital. I wanted to share some comments that really resonated with me and deepened my sense of pride in being part of Winona Health’s long and remarkable history. When the cornerstone of the new hospital (the one we have today) was laid, the board members at that time made some prophetic statements. These are comments that were shared on November 3, 1961:

“This is more than a ceremonial procedure. The setting of this corner stone today represents the last physical act necessary to complete the exterior construction of this institution of mercy and monument to the will and determination of a community and its people. With the laying of this corner stone we will persevere for posterity the life-long history of our hospital, beginning back in 1894 – the history of the development of this particular project together with the records of the men and women whose dreams, perseverance, and labor made this all possible….After this construction has outlived its usefulness and this box is opened by some future generation – the modern developments, some of them appearing for the first time in an institution of this nature and size, that we now look forward to using with pride and hope, will be outmoded, and might even appear to be exceedingly primitive to that generation.”

I am in awe of the progressive thinking that the Winona Health physicians and community leaders have brought to this organization from the day it was founded, through that day in 1961 and all the way through today. The commitment to be an excellent healthcare organization for this community has always been top of mind, despite environmental changes, economic highs and lows, advances in medicine and technology and changes in patient needs. None of these changes were easy at any time but, as was noted, it was the perseverance of people who cared that made all the difference. And that remains true today.

There are so many people who care deeply about Winona Health and this community and the covenant-type relationship we have. Future generations will come with new hopes, dreams, expectations and technologies – and, as always, it will take hard work and perseverance to meet those expectations and to make those dreams come true.

I honor our ancestors who envisioned a state-of-the-art hospital for our community and brought that dream into reality. I honor all of the men and women in the multitude of roles who have taken care of this organization year after year, who made the necessary changes to keep things up to date, who day in and day out cared for our community members in their time of need. I honor all of the physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurses and clinicians, as well as all of our support staff and volunteers today who take our mission and vision even further as we continue to evolve through healthcare reform.

I am grateful for the Winona Health board, the partnerships we have with local businesses, non-profits, the City of Winona, Winona County, the educational institutions, churches and more – Winona is a remarkable community in its own right. Sometimes when we are too close to something it is hard to see—but I have always seen Winona as a unique gem that others could only hope to replicate. Winona Health is proud and grateful to be deeply rooted in such a 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.

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