History of Elma health care
Fri, 01/08/2021 - 9:19am admin
Marcie Klomp ~ News Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
ELMA - City leaders and Elma supporters have worked long and hard to get a clinic back in town.
The Elma Medical Clinic opened for business on Jan. 4, 2021, but it has been in the works since early 2017 and before.
When Howard-Winneshiek closed the Elma Elementary Center in June 2014, and the town subsequently took over the building, locals wondered how they could utilize the building.
Some ideas were to move the preschool into the elementary and use the attached facility for a clinic. Ultimately, the elementary school building was torn down. The gym is to be renovated to make way for a multi-use community complex to expand the daycare space, move the library and City Hall into the building and add a meeting room.
But Regional Health Services of Howard County officials still felt a clinic would benefit the town and the hospital, so a lot on Busti Ave. was found to move the clinic.
Talks began anew.
In addition, the Elma Community Complex Committee started a capital campaign to raise money for the renovations and build the clinic. Members of the Mennonite community also helped make the project possible.
City Clerk Shannon Gebel noted, “It is a wonderful thing to have them open and available for appointments now. The clinic is a great asset to the Elma community, and they have been so wonderful to work with to get this going.”
This is not the first clinic to find a home in Elma. Many medical professionals and facilities have called Elma home.
According to the Elma Centennial History Book, some of the pioneer doctors included E.H. Dunn, M.D. Dunn, Dr. Mabry, Dr. Overfield, Dr. Gillespie, Dr. Spooner, Dr. H.E. Dunham, Dr. Franz Epenter and Dr. John O’Keefe.
Dr. J.W. Mulick served Elma for 34 years, from 1900 until his death in 1934. At times, he served patients in his home.
Another long-time doctor was Dr. J.C. Hastings, who served Alta Vista for 16 years in the early 1900s and moved to Elma with his family in 1918. The Centennial Book stated, “During the flu epidemic of 1918, Dr. Hastings made so many calls that he wore the horses out.”
A couple of years after starting his Elma practice, Miss Irma Bachmann, R.N. joined Hastings. In 1929, the duo financed and built the Elma Hospital, also known as Hastings Hospital. It was located at 409 Main St. and had six patient rooms.
Today, the building is multifunctional, housing Elma City Hall; Wemark Chiropractic/Candice Bohr Chiropractic; Donna Reicks, Honor Our Mothers (Midwife); Karen Hageman, Healing Hands Reflexology; Lorraine Pullman, Healing Touch; and Emily Witt, Rest & Relaxation Massage.
In 1949, Dr. Hastings retired. Dr. C. Dean purchased the Elma Hospital on June 30, 1949. After deciding to move four years later, the hospital was purchased by the City of Elma.
Dr. C.I. Fox opened an office in the hospital on a temporary basis.
On Sept. 15, 1954, Dr. Rainy opened an office in the Elma Hospital. Most of Rainy’s surgical and medical patients were hospitalized in New Hampton, so he generally visited there on a daily basis. He was also on staff at the Charles City Hospital.
In 1986, Rainy stopped seeing obstetrical patients, after helping with the birth of 1,004 babies.
He continued seeing patients as general practitioner and did some surgeries. He retired in July 1989.
In 2004, he was named to the Times Plain Dealer Hall of Fame. After serving in the Korean War and then arriving in Elma in 1954, he lived and worked in the community. He contributed, donated, toiled and gave his time, talent and financial assistance whenever and wherever it was needed.
After Rainy’s retirement, Medical Associates of New Hampton operated a medical clinic for about a year and then closed. That was the last doctor/clinic until May 1996.
Howard County Hospital, Mercy Family Care - Cresco and Elma City Council were working together to open a medical clinic in the former Rainy building. It opened on May 6, 1997. Plans were to incorporate a pharmacy into the clinic at a future date.
Janis Rockabrand, Physician Assistant, was the provider for the clinic. PAs are required to have physician supervision.
In April 1998, patient numbers and revenue exceeded expectations. They averaged 10 patients per day, compared with the expected 29 per month.
The clinic closed on Oct. 4, 2002. Elizabeth Doty, president of RHSHC stated in a letter, “This decision was based on the need to make Janis available to as many patients as possible.” The closing would also eliminate the need to send a physician to the clinic every two weeks. Financial considerations were also a concern.
In a related subject, Dr. Randall Butikofer was leaving the Cresco Clinic in late November, making it short-handed as well.
The idea of opening a clinic in Elma was again looked at in 2010. An article in the Sept. 1, 2010 Times Plain Dealer explained the Mennonite population was interested in helping financially, but there was no commitment.
Ten years later, it was the right time and right place to open a clinic. It is hoped Elma Medical Clinic will be utilized and stay open for years to come.