1910s-20s

The early part of the 20th century was marked by World War I, women's suffrage, the first moving assembly line and the start of the Great Depression. In Portage, Wisconsin, two small residential hospitals were servicing the community, but with demand increasing, the issue of one modern, well-equipped facility was raised at several public meetings. In nearby Columbus, a hospital operated by the Sisters of the Divine Savior was flourishing. When local, influential couple Mr. and Mrs. Alois Zeinert received care at the Columbus hospital and saw what the Sisters were doing there, they became ardent supporters of bringing a similar hospital to Portage, and approached the Sisters of the Divine Savior for their support. Mother Liboria and the Sisters were won over by the urgings of the Portage community and agreed to match the city's pledge for the new hospital. Construction began on a tract of donated land on the banks of the Wisconsin River in fall of 1916 and by April had been completed. The hospital, called St. Savior, was dedicated on May 17, 1917.

New Hospital is Dedicated May 17

St. Savior Hospital is the name of the new Institution which was added to the advantages of Portage as a municipality on Thursday morning, May 17, 1917, when Archbishop Messmer of Milwaukee conducted the dedicatory exercises at the chapel in the new building at 10 o'clock in the presence of a large number of citizens of all denominations.

Archbishop Messmer conducted mass, assisted by the Rev. FR JJ Nicholas and Rev. FR Sampone of St. Mary's parish. The mass was followed by an address given by Archbishop Messmer.

 

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"In the early hospital years, the entire hospital personnel with the exception of the janitor (Emil Weber) was made up of the Sisters. They did all their own laundry work, scrubbing floors - even painting and redecorating; also gardening. They raised all their vegetables and most of their fruit, which they canned during the summer for winter use. They made all their own bandages and the plaster Paris rolls were made from strips of crinoline taken from the facing of adhesive plaster strips. They made all their own dressings and prepared during the early years all the linen, silk, horse hair, silk-worm gut and catgut sutures. They were frugal to the point of deprivation and often their diets approached 'the fasting level.' Such were the early days."

– Dr. C.W. Henney

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