Building quality health care an ongoing tradition in Cannon Falls

November 26, 2012

CANNON FALLS, Minn. — In 1958, Cannon Falls received special permission from the Minnesota Legislature to build a first-of-its-kind combination hospital and nursing home in the town. The “medical experiment” became Cannon Falls Community Hospital and Nursing Home with financial support from the city and community members. Community support brought innovation to the city in the form of quality medical care on Nov. 3, 1958.  Now plans are underway to do it again.

The facility now known as Mayo Clinic Health System in Cannon Falls needs a new facility to accommodate the growth of the town and developments in medical technology. Plans are underway to harness that same spirit of community and innovation to build a new, state-of-the-art medical center off Highway 52 on the south side of the city.  With much of the initial planning done, the project is moving into the next phase which includes identifying sources of funding for the construction.

In the 1950s, city government and citizens of Cannon Falls knew that a hospital was essential to the growth and health of their city and partnered in funding the town’s first hospital. The city paid for construction of the $295,000 facility, but community members had to raise $116,000 to equip and furnish it. Bob O’Gorman, local businessman, recalls the fundraising efforts: “Coffee parties were organized all over town. Ken Althoff and I would visit with six or seven people and explain the project over coffee and cookies. We had meetings in every neighborhood and met with many groups.”

Cannon Falls community involvement is once again critical to ensuring citizens have access to exceptional health care. “The total project cost is expected to be around $30 million, with $10 million of that coming from local sources. We are close to our goal but still have $2.9 million to raise locally,” says Tom Witt, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic Health System locations in Cannon Falls, Lake City and Red Wing.  The project cannot move forward until all funding has been identified.

Like their 1950s forbearers, current community leaders are inspired to rally Cannon Falls around this effort to sustain the growth and health of their city. Kathy Brekken, past co-owner, CEO and president of Midwest of Cannon Falls, is leading the community capital campaign. Eight other community leaders will work with Brekken on the campaign. They include: Ted Bailey, retired; Dennis Brekken, retired; Paul Bringgold, retired former owner of 1st National Bank; Greg Evans, Merchants Bank; Jeromy Mouw, Edward Jones; Mark Sjoquist, Vasa Spring Garden Mutual Insurance Co.; Carol Leffingwell, Old Market Deli and Fourth and Main Fabrics, and Greg Wulf, 1st Farmers and Merchants Bank and White Rock Bank. In addition, Dean Lindeman is working for the medical center as a Development representative to help meet the community’s philanthropic support of the project.

“The community built the current facility in 1958, but health care has changed dramatically in 54 years, and the new needs of the community, like increased access to emergency care, calls for a different kind of medical center,” says Dr. Witt.

Once all the funding sources have been identified, the project will move into a final phase, where review of more detailed planning will take place, ahead of final approvals.

“This new facility is essential to the future of Cannon Falls as a growing place to live and raise a family,” says Brekken. “I can’t think of a more attractive community than one that works together for the health of its neighbors. That’s what we did in 1958 for our town, and we can do it again in 2012.”

Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization that reinvests its resources in patient care. Funding from charitable gifts and endowments, as well as earnings form the medical practice provide funding for medical research, medical education, and investments in facilities and medical equipment in hospitals and clinics in 70 communities across the system.

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Kristy Jacobson
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