In 1955, the Deer River community faced a challenge: the current hospital would be shut down because it no longer met State Board of Health standards. The hospital’s administrator, Margaret Severson, immediately turned to the community for help. A Volunteer Hospital Committee was formed and applied for federal aid to fund the construction of a new hospital. Because of the close proximity to the Grand Rapids hospital, the request was denied. Rather than abandon the project, the committee redoubled their efforts and began seeking pledges from businesses, churches and organizations.
Local fundraisers began with the Deer River Women’s Club at the forefront of the activity. They tirelessly and passionately raised over $21,000 in five years through smelt feeds, cookie bakes and style shows, which led to a national award for community improvement by the Sears Roebuck Foundation. A building site was donated and ground was broken in 1956 for the new hospital. Individuals, families, and even children donated their allowances and their paper delivery pay to see the hospital built in Deer River.
Over four years later and through many obstacles, Community Memorial Hospital opened its doors on April 16, 1962 in the midst of a spring snowstorm.
Since that time, the facility has grown and changed, continually adapting to the changing healthcare environment and the community’s needs. At present our facility is home to 18 onsite physicians and practitioners, striving to provide the highest quality health care in the region.
In 2012, the Deer River HealthCare Center integrated with Essentia Health, a partnership which we believe will ensure high quality healthcare in our community while also providing the benefit of additional specialty services close to home. At the time of the integration with Essentia, the Foundation was re-launched with the vision of promoting health and wellness in the Deer River area through grants, programs and collaborations.
As we look into the future, our goal is to serve our community by identifying and responding to needs regarding the health and well-being of our residents. We consider it a privilege to be part of the community and look forward to working with and for the people of our area for many years to come.