Canton celebrates 70 years of health care

Hospital location has housed government, an asylum, grain storage and more

Nurses, doctors and staff pose for a group photo outside Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center.

Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital officially opened for business on May 13, 1949. On May 13, 2019, employees of Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center celebrated 70 years of providing health care to the community.

The communities of Canton, South Dakota, and Inwood, Iowa, have ties to Sioux Valley Hospital (now Sanford USD Medical Center) going back to the planning stages of the first joint Canton-Inwood hospital. Canton Hospital director John L. Millie worked with the Sioux Valley Hospital superintendent at the time, Rev. C.M. Austin, and local doctors and architects on designs for Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital, according to the West Lyon Herald.

Several hospitals had existed in Canton in the late 1800s and early 1900s. By the 1940s, Canton Hospital served medical and maternity patients from a two-story frame house at 504 E. Third St.

In the fall of 1946, the Canton Hospital Association purchased the hospital building at the former Hiawatha Insane Asylum, east of the city.

“The building itself had quite a history,” the West Lyon Herald reported. Built in 1902, “it had served as a government building, Indian asylum, an annex to the South Dakota State Penitentiary and as a storage facility for grain.”

Two communities come together

Following a meeting of Canton and Inwood residents at the courthouse in Canton, a committee was selected to estimate the cost of remodeling the building.

A second meeting was held at Jacobsen Hall in Inwood. At that meeting on June 30, 1947, it was decided to incorporate, and a 99-year lease was secured for the 300 by 500 feet of ground surrounding the hospital. The first estimate of cost was set at about $70,000 for renovation of the building. The Chamber of Commerce of Canton, the Inwood Chamber of Commerce and American Legion conducted a fundraising drive.

National Hospital Week opening

On May 8 and 9, 1949, about 2,300 visitors attended an open house of the new Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital. The hospital opened for business during National Hospital Week on May 13, 1949.

The first baby born at the new Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital was Warren K. Johnson, son of Leo and Elvira Johnson, the West Lyon Herald reported. He was born within 24 hours of the hospital opening and was given a $25 U.S. Opportunity Bond as a gift.

The total cost of the completely remodeled hospital was $125,000. The hospital was constructed to accommodate a minimum of 44 beds with the possibility to expand to care for 50 to 60 patients.

The new hospital was equipped for major surgery, minor surgery, a children’s ward, nursery, delivery room, contagious ward and both private and semi-private rooms, as well as providing laboratory and X-ray services. The top rates were set at $8 a day for a private room and $6.50 to $7 for a semi-private room.

Carmen Lewis, R.N., was the superintendent, and Aida Rojas, R.N., was the night supervisor. There were 11 women and one man employed to provide the hospital’s services.

Old buildings make way for new

In 1966, it became obvious to the Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital board members that a replacement hospital would have to be built for the 63-year-old hospital building. State and federal health officials had noted numerous difficulties with the structure that made it unsafe for continued use as a hospital, especially that the building was not fire resistant.

In 1971, efforts began to construct a replacement facility. In 1973, a fundraising campaign was conducted by the Canton and Inwood communities and $560,000 was raised in pledges. Federal assistance was obtained through a Hill-Burton grant in the amount of $518,000.

Before construction could begin, three buildings had to be excavated. Two of these buildings were previously used as apartments for some of the hospital employees.

Construction began in May of 1974 just north and west of the present hospital, at 440 N. Hiawatha Drive. Construction of the new hospital was completed by October of 1975 costing $1.6 million, including furniture and equipment.

On Oct. 19, 1975, dedication ceremonies of the new Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital were held. On Nov. 1, 1975, the facility opened its doors licensed for 28 beds and five bassinets.

With the new facility, Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital was well equipped to provide services to the medical, surgical, pediatric, maternity and newborn patients. The hospital was equipped with a coronary care unit, an intensive care unit, operating room, labor room, delivery room, emergency room, examination room and nursery.

Latest care in Canton-Inwood

Some of the newest services available to patients were an electrocardiogram reading service through Telemed, blood gas analysis, ultrasound examinations by the Laboratory of Clinical Medicine and a fetal heart monitor in the labor room. Inhalation therapy by a certified inhalation therapist was also made available. A 24-hour ambulance service was available through volunteers. Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital employed 55 people.

The Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital Auxiliary had 434 members at the time, who provided services for the hospital, patients, visitors and the community. Through the fundraising efforts of the auxiliary, the hospital received a fetal heart monitor, blood gas analyzer, and many other pieces of equipment needed to care for patients.

In 1991, a physician office building was constructed and was connected to Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital to provide patients easier access to medical providers.

Joining Sanford Health

It was also in 1991 that Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital leased its building and operations to the Sioux Valley Service Corporation. Sioux Valley Service Corporation leased the Canton-Inwood Memorial Hospital operations until Dec. 31, 2008, when Sanford Health purchased the hospital.

Part of the purchase price of $9 million was that $5 million was to be used to start the Canton-Inwood Area Health Foundation. The remaining $4 million was promised to be used on a construction project for the existing building.

With the board of directors’ vision and the staff at Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center, construction commenced on Dec. 26, 2012. Built first was a new ambulance garage. Sanford Health invested $4.6 million into the project and Canton-Inwood Area Health Foundation donated $2.9 million.

Sanford Canton-Inwood today

Almost every area of the facility was expanded, renovated or cosmetically improved throughout the project. After two and a half years of construction, nearly 10,000 square feet was added to the facility and another 28,000 square feet remodeled.

Today Sanford Canton-Inwood offers 24-hour emergency and ambulance services, general surgery, respiratory therapy, rehabilitation and physical medicine, hospice, radiology services, a wide range of tests, screenings and education, annual exams, pediatric care, prenatal and follow-up care and much more.

With 70 years of history, the 116 employees at Sanford Canton-Inwood Medical Center today are building on the past and looking to the future.

Sources: Alvera Von Der Lieth for Sanford Health; and the West Lyon Herald, May 31, 2000.

Posted In Faces of Sanford Health, Network:Canton-Inwood

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