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Dr. J.H. Brower, the town’s first physician moved to Calliope from LeMars in 1881 and immediately began construction of the Live Drug Store, which would also house his practice. Dr. Brower and Dr. Bradley purchased the first x-ray machine located in Northwest Iowa in 1901. Dr. Brower sold his practice to Dr. McAllister in 1902. Dr. McAllister and Dr. Meyer had a suite of rooms in the Fleshman Building, which was used as a small hospital. In 1914 they purchased the G.L. Venard home where they would establish a hospital called the McAllister-Meyer Hospital, which would later be called the Hawarden Hospital.

In June 1918, the community club met and a proposition to build a larger hospital was well received. There was a unanimous endorsement of Doctors McAllister and Meyer to continue operation of the hospital, and investors were guaranteed a six percent return on their investment. The hospital was referred to as the Hawarden Hospital.

The depression hit the Hawarden area very hard and the Sioux County Board of Supervisors requested relief on the fees the doctors received for taking care of the county poor. The county doctors demonstrated their willingness to go along with them, knowing the drain on the poor fund and slashed their fees.

Rumors had been rampant that the hospital would be closed, but Drs. Null and Gregory dispelled the rumors as false. However, in January 1933, they approached the Directors of the Chamber of Commerce. They had reached a point where it was no longer feasible to operate the hospital as a private institution. The Chamber of Commerce took the matter up with the City Council and an arrangement was made where the city put up half the funds and the Chamber the balance and bought the hospital equipment for $500, with the exception of the x-ray. The sale included a provision for a hospital to operate permanently in Hawarden and none denied the necessity of having a hospital in a community like Hawarden. No definite decision was reached at that time as to the method of carrying out this arrangement to insure continuity of a hospital in town.

On January 12, 1933, it was reported that about 25 citizens met in the council room of the city hall on a Sunday afternoon at the call of Mayor, B.T. French. A committee of Mayor French, Mrs. C.A. Slife, Rev. George Steinkamp, Rev. Robert H. Forrester, and Andrew McBride was formed to investigate various phases of the problem and report back. The committee met on the next Monday afternoon and presented the following resolutions:

We believe that Hawarden needs a community hospital and that need was never greater than the present time.

We believe that not less than $2,500 will be needed to begin the enterprise and insure its existence for the first year. Five hundred dollars of this amount had already been given by the purchase of hospital equipment.

We recommend that a canvass be made for gifts for this undertaking, and that all contributors of $10 or more be constitutional members of a Hawarden Hospital Association and the when 50% of the amount needed is pledged that the members of the association so constituted be called together for the election of a board of directors of seven to be selected from the members of the association.

The committee wishes to recommend further that the community hospital shall be controlled by the board of directors who shall elect a superintendent, preferable a graduate nurse who has had experience and the hospital shall be open to all practicing physicians. So that Hawarden may vote on a hospital, petitions will be circulated asking for an election of the people. Management of a city hospital would be vested in 3 elected trustees.

Since municipal hospitals are tax supported, only if they are not self-sustaining, to the extent of the equivalent of a 3 mill property tax. Such procedure must first, however, receive approval of the citizens of the municipalities in a regularly called election. The levy of said tax would not be obligatory to the city council as long as funds to run the hospital are available. It was a complicated procedure and many open meetings were held to discuss this with the voters.

It was obvious that the decisions would take some time so Drs. Null and Gregory arranged to buy back the equipment and moved the hospital to the old home of A.B. Maynard behind the Farmers State Bank. The idea of establishing a Community Hospital was abandoned for a time.


In May 1935, Fred Vernon reported to the Chamber of Commerce that there were ways of getting financial support in the construction of a Community Hospital through a government agency, the Public Works Administration or through the Works Progress Administration.

In July 1935, Hawarden applied for a federal grant to fund 45 percent of the money needed for construction of a new hospital. The cost of the building was estimated to be about $36,000. On October 3, 1935, the hospital grant was approved. At a bit of humorous political history in the process of this approval; the Hawarden Hospital project was among the projects salvaged after W.P.A.’s Harry L. Hopkins and Interior Secretary, Harold Ickes got into a controversy over whether the P.W.A. or the W.P.A. should attempt to the meet the immediate need of employment in Hawarden. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, took both men to Hyde Park for a meeting since Hopkins had put a “thumbs down” on the Hawarden application. As a result of the meeting the original P.W.A. rejection was rescinded and the project was approved. Work was to start December 15, and earlier if possible. We had a bond issue for $19,800 to take before the people and before an election, petitions had to be signed. It was tight – the bond issue passed on November 7, 1935, and plans were discussed with Beuttler of Sioux City, the architect.

The proposed plan called for a story brick building, 82 by 40 feet in size, with a basement under only one third. It would be a flat, pitch/gravel roof and it was to be made as nearly fireproof as possible. The building’s plan designed to be like the new hospital in Vermillion. The site of the hospital was without question. Mr. and Mrs. J.A. Lind (Millie Moen’s grandparents) donated the land north of their residence.

Also in late December of 1935, word was received that the hospital contract with Klinger Construction Co. had been approved by the W.P.A. in Washington, D.C. Mr. Klinger planned to begin construction in January 1936. On January 9, 1936, Hawarden set the bond sale for January 20th, with interest firm, bid 3.5 percent and the $17,000 bond sold to them.

The hospital construction actively began in March of 1936. It was constructed at a cost of approximately $36, 000 excluding equipment. The City of Hawarden contributed $19,800 and the federal government, through the Public Works Administration Agency, contributed $16,200. The Klinger Construction Co. Inc., of Sioux City, built it on the site deeded to the city without cost by Mr. and Mrs. Lind.

Local civic organizations and public-spirited citizens of Hawarden contributed largely to the equipment for the hospital plant through volunteer contributions and fund-raising projects.

For fire protection, the building was constructed of brick. Its design was along modern lines of the 1930′s, featuring two stories, with a full basement. It contained rooms with facilities to care for twenty patients, including five bassinets. Four patient rooms were equipped with bath and toilet accommodations.

The operating room was located in the northwest corner of the building on the second floor. It was equipped with the most modern equipment, including a shadow-proof operating light, a hydraulic operating table and other sundry pieces. All general furnishings were in steel with a walnut grain to get away from the conventional hospital white. The windows were furnished throughout with venetian blinds and had rounded steel frames.

In the management of the hospital, no discrimination was made against practitioners of any school of medicine recognized by the laws of Iowa. A policy was developed that stated the at the hospital would be under the supervision of a board of trustees, elected by the citizens of Hawarden, and would be operated by a staff consisting of a superintendent, from two to four registered nurses and two housekeepers. The first board of trustees for the Hawarden Community Hospital was Walter Scott, chairman; M.R. Stone and Anna Smith, secretary. The first superintendent was Orville Peterson and W.S. Weaver was named as treasurer of the hospital organization. Mr. John Mueller (father of Tillie Ross) was the first custodian.

The new community hospital officially opened on October 10, 1936, with a dedication ceremony. One thousand people toured the facility during the open house.

At a meeting of the city council on September 16, 1940, it was decided to enter into a contract with Gefke-Dalton and Co., of Sioux Falls, for the refinancing of the outstanding municipal hospital bonds at the rate of two percent. Part of the issue was retired annually and would be fully retired by1956.

In 1959 the hospital board had dialogue with the state health and hospital officials, meeting with Mr. Elmer DenHerder, NW Iowa’s state representative. In February, the board went to Des Moines to interview Mr. Pickworth about a Federal Grant called a Hill-Burton Act Appropriation. In May, they met with the Hawarden city council to discuss the need for an additions to our existing hospital, our doctors had expressed a need.

On Labor Day 1959, the hospital entered a float in the parade. Six nurses surrounded a replica of a suggested addition. In April of 1960, the board met with Beutller Co. Architects of Sioux City; the board also visited other hospitals and they took their ideas to the city council. July 14, 1960, they received $175 memorial to Serena Scriven from her husband Len. This was the beginning of a hospital building fund.

The doctors and hospital board met with the Chamber of Commerce. John Tilgner, president, appointed Lynn Booth to look into the matter. Dave Gearhart and Lynn Booth met with the hospital board and wrote letters to Charles Hoeven and Senator Burke Hickenlooper expressing the opinion that we should be eligible for the Federal Grant. By October, the board had met again with the council to discuss plans for the addition. $80,000 was the amount the city could be bonded and $38,000 of that was supposed to be used for a sewage system in the new school. The board felt they did not get much satisfaction. The council asked the board to get an organization to set a campaign to solicit public or private funds from the community. A letter was published in the Independent concerning the needs of the hospital. Donations were beginning to come in to both banks.

The council appointed a steering committee to raise a third of the $225,000 the addition would need, with Hill-Burton matching one third. The balance would be raised by city bonding. The committee was Dr. Ed vonGlan, Lee Keehn and Earl Slife, Sr., who flew to Des Moines to see Mr. Pickworth. The Women’s Club of Hawarden was to sponsor the raising of funds. Rev. C.E. Custer accepted the chairmanship of the Finance Committee and Rev. William Sebring worked with him.

There were many fund-raising events for the renovation fund. It was now June 1962.

Donations kept coming in. A total of $154,530.93 had been pledged so far. A new maternity wing and new lab, as well as the other needed improvements to keep us licensed by the state could now be positively anticipated.

1963 saw the beginning of the new hospital auxiliary. A few women who felt the time was ripe had approached the hospital board. The group became an integral part of the hospital and has no projects without hospital board approval. Since the hospital has tax-exempt status, as a History municipal institution any organization connected with it must, by law, use every cent earned or donated for the benefit of said hospital through liaison with the board. Therefore, all activities are board approved.

In February 1964, it was discovered that bids were 21 percent over the estimate and it was pretty certain no Hill-Burton funds would be forth coming. Sioux County had four hospitals when most counties in Iowa had only one or at best two. It made no difference that we were a border town and one third of our doctors’ clientele were from South Dakota. Our fund progressed enough to begin construction of a new wing in late March of 1964.

Money for equipment was not accounted for in the original amount needed. The newly organized hospital auxiliary agreed to spearhead that drive and Mr. and Mrs. Earl Slife said they would chair the canvass. Everyone in town gave again. The hospital auxiliary and other organizations launched fund-raising activities. Business and individual contributors gave $500 or $1,000 per room to provide a bed or a complete room. $43,000 was raised of a needed $55,000. The hospital auxiliary kept track on a giant thermometer located at the south end of Central Avenue and our city employees filled it in.

On May 15, 1965, the new wing and renovated old portion of the Hawarden Community Hospital opened. There was an open house from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and the hospital board and members of the administrative staff conducted guided tours. Our hospital finally became of age!

The new hospital structure contained two levels, each 42 x 140 feet. It attached to the west side of the old building and included: basement; enlarging the boiler room to accommodate both buildings and enlarged the dining, kitchen and dish washing space. Ground floor; the waiting room was enlarged by about 100 percent. An existing patient room was converted to an examining room and the ward area was converted to a family room and rest rooms were added. Top floor: the nursery was converted into an enlarged central service area for storage and sterilization purposes. A new elevator was installed in the shaft leading to the operating room in the old building. The ground floor of the new building included a complete emergency department and covered ambulance entrance at the SW corner of the new addition. About one-third of the main floor of the new building was devoted to the obstetrics department, including two two-bed patient’s rooms, nursery, delivery room, labor room and doctor’s room. The balance of the main floor was made up of five two-bed patient rooms, nurse’s station, drug room, office, storage and a miniature kitchen. The new brick finished edition, of masonry and steel construction, increased the hospital’s capacity from 14 patient beds to 27 patient beds.

The hospital celebrated their 50th anniversary with an open house on September 14, 1986 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m.

Note: The history information to this point was taken from the Hawarden Centennial, 1887-1987, One Hundred Years on the Right Track.


In August of 1997 the Hospital launched a capital campaign to do an addition to the hospital. General Chairman was Ric Porter with James E. Daggett, M.D. and Betty Degen serving as Honorary Co-Chairs. The hospital had increased its annual outpatient visits during the a 5 year period from 12,350 visits in the hospital’s fiscal year of 1992-1993 to total outpatient visits of 18,800 in fiscal year 1996-1997. The hospital projected that they would serve 20,000 outpatients during the fiscal year of 1997-1998. The hospital did not have the space or equipment to continue to provide state-of-the-art outpatient healthcare in the present facility. The proposed plan of expansion, modernization and purchase of new equipment would provide significant improvement of outpatient space and services. The expansion would enlarge the outpatient area, provide a Patient-Community Wellness Center and relocate the Emergency Room; it would also replace the aging X-ray machine and install a modern passenger elevator. RSArchitects from Sioux Falls were secured for the building project.

Interest for a Foundation Board was sparked due to the capital campaign and the Hawarden Community Hospital Foundation was formed in February 1998. The original Board members were: Alan Burke, Ric Porter, Jim Pickner, Jerry Klemme, Betty Degen, Ken Koch, and George Rehder.

The city approved a general obligation bond to cover the expense for the building project at their May 18, 1998 council meeting. The repayment of the general obligation bond would be repaid with the received pledges from the capital campaign.

Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on July 4, 1998 at 5:00 p.m., with the start of construction scheduled for July 21, 1998. Hospital staff moved into the new addition in April of 1999. An open house was held for the public on May 14 and 15, 1999.

The hospital further explored the option of becoming a Critical Access Hospital in December of 1999. Becoming a Critical Access Hospital would enable the hospital to be reimbursed for the actual cost of service to Medicare patients. The hospital officially became a Critical Access Hospital on November 2, 2000.