Our History

Winneshiek Medical Center traces its history back to the early 1900s. The Reverend Paul Koren, a minister at Washington Prairie Church, was intent upon establishing a hospital in Decorah. William Smith, a retired farmer, offered Koren $10,000 and through many individual donations, Koren raised $15,000 more. In 1914, Decorah Hospital opened its doors. The next 50 years brought a succession of additions, modernizations and new equipment. In 1957, the hospital incorporated as a non-profit organization and was renamed Smith Memorial Hospital in honor of its first donor.

In 1965, the Smith Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees felt a new hospital should be built and would need county support for its construction. On January 1, 1969, the Smith Memorial Hospital dissolved its ownership and donated the building, equipment and funds to the county. Winneshiek County Memorial Hospital at its present site opened for occupancy on February 3, 1971.

With dramatic changes in health care since 1971, Winneshiek County Memorial Hospital continued to expand services to provide a wide range of care options for patients, closer to home. Added departments included a Same Day Services area, Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine, and Home Health and Hospice, among others. In addition, through the hospital’s relationship with Decorah Clinic – Mayo Health System and Gundersen Lutheran – Decorah, expanded surgical services, such as orthopedics, ear, nose and throat, and urology became available locally to patients, as well as internal medicine specialists who worked in partnership with the hospital’s Special Care Unit. To reflect the scope of services available through the organization, the Board of Trustees voted in summer of 2004 to change the hospital’s name to Winneshiek Medical Center, effective January 1, 2005.

In April of 2005, Decorah Clinic became part of Winneshiek Medical Center through a collaborative partnership with Mayo Clinic Health System, which provides physician services for the clinic.

Because of continued growth in outpatient care, Winneshiek Medical Center embarked on a capital campaign in 2005. These funds provided for a $13.2 million addition to the medical center, which included an all-new Emergency Department, expansion to the Same Day Services area, and a remodeling of the Laboratory and Radiology departments.

Winneshiek Medical Center continues to explore ways to advance the delivery of quality care and expanded services to the area, and with compassionate care and patient convenience in mind, strives to lead the way to better health.

Centennial Celebration

We celebrated our Centennial anniversary in 2014.  Learn more about our rich history in Winneshiek County.