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A Century of Healthcare Services

The history of Grinnell Regional Medical Center officially begins with the merger of two hospitals in 1967. The story of Grinnell’s hospitals begins many years earlier.

In 1901, at the urging of local citizens, Dr. P. E. Somers established a private hospital in his home on North Park Street. This was an eight-bed infirmary located across from the Grinnell College campus. The hospital served the community until 1905 when fire destroyed Dr. Somers’ home.

Grinnell took great pride in opening its first municipal hospital in 1908. The new hospital, located on the southeast corner of Elm Street and Sixth Avenue, was remarkably complete and presented the finest in medical equipment for its time. This facility served the community until 1919.

These two pioneering institutions educated the community about the need and value of hospital facilities and fostered a community consciousness on the necessity of a better and larger hospital.

In 1919, two new hospitals opened to the people of Grinnell and the surrounding area. Community Hospital, a 45-bed facility, was organized as a stock company and incorporated under Iowa laws. It was located in west Grinnell on the site where GRMC now stands. St. Francis Hospital, a 35-bed facility, was owned and operated by the Sisters of St. Francis. It was located on the east side of Grinnell, now the site of St. Francis and Seeland Park.

By 1966, it was clear that operating two separate hospitals was inefficient for both institutions due to rising costs, staffing problems, and antiquated facilities and equipment. After much hard work by area residents, the hospitals merged in 1967 under the name Grinnell General Hospital in west Grinnell.

In 1970, the new Grinnell General Hospital completed construction of a two-story patient care wing. In 1974 and 1983, GRMC completed other building projects creating additional space for surgery, the emergency room, radiology, physical and respiratory therapy, laboratory, and a new chapel.

Grinnell General Hospital celebrated its silver anniversary in 1993 by announcing a name change to Grinnell Regional Medical Center. The new name better reflects the expanded healthcare services offered at GRMC as well as the regional nature of the hospital.

Today, GRMC is a 49-bed hospital with about 40 physicians in 12 different specialties, including anesthesiology; emergency medicine; family practice; general surgery; internal medicine; orthopedic surgery; pain medicine; pathology; podiatry; psychiatry; radiology; and urology. With six affiliated family clinics in a six-county area, GRMC serves about 40,000 people. Affiliated outreach clinics include Brooklyn Medical Clinic, Montezuma Medical Clinic, Lynnville Medical Clinic, Deer Creek Heath Center (in Tama/Toledo), and Victor Health Center. In addition, Postels Community Health Park, located in downtown Grinnell, houses GRMC’s integrated medicine therapies, physical therapy, dialysis, and a chiropractic clinic. The Light Center for Community Health houses the Community Care Clinic for uninsured and underinsured residents as well as home health and public health. Postels Community Health Park, downtown, offers group exercise programs, to complement the GRMC Wellness Services program.

Since 1997 thanks to generous donors to our Building on Excellence and Blueprint for Health capital campaigns, GRMC has made renovations and additions to the medical center to benefit the growing needs of our patients. Areas include medical and surgical patient wings, Kintzinger Women’s Health Center, radiology, Candace Packard Lambie Intensive Care Unit, Mitchell Meditation Room, Warren H. Bower Surgery Center, the healing garden, Tomasek Conference Center, the Ahrens Medical Arts Building, the Fly High Fitness Studio, hospital information system, and The Glass Gift Box–the GRMC Auxiliary’s gift shop.

In 2013, GRMC opened a new chemotherapy and infusion suite on the first floor of the medical center. Named the GRMC Auxiliary Chemotherapy and Infusion Suite, it houses six specially designed chairs, nursing station for enhanced patient observation, and creature comforts for patients and families.

More improvements are on the horizon. Future renovations are planned for the physical and occupational therapy department, laboratory, cardiopulmonary department, emergency department, cafeteria, and kitchen area. Ultimately, these renovations will improve the health and enhance the quality of life of GRMC’s patients and constituents.

By Elaine Noe, GRMC volunteer archivist