The Early Years
Settlers moved into northwest Iowa in the mid-1800s and as the railroad system developed, communities quickly grew. Clay County was formerly established in 1858 and the city of Spencer was incorporated a few years later. At the turn of the century, health care services were essential for the growing and bustling region. At that time, a country doctor toting his familiar black bag was a common sight in the city and the surrounding area. In those days, the doctor went to the patient or a family may have a visiting nurse and most often, mother’s home remedies provided the solution to any ailment. Local citizens didn't have a hospital to check into if surgery needed to be performed, a baby was ready to be delivered or if an emergency occurred.
The Wayne Hospital
In the fall of 1911, local citizen Jasper Wayne purchased the old Baptist Church on West Third Street and converted it into a large 12-room house. Then a few months later, Jan. 10, 1912, headlines in the Spencer newspaper proclaimed, "Jasper Wayne to Make a Hospital Out of His Residence." However, after nearly two years of operating the hospital, Wayne was ready to depart from the health care field and offered the hospital for sale.
The First Spencer Hospital
A group of 17 women representing various churches in Spencer formed the Spencer Hospital Association in April 1914. Shortly afterwards, the Spencer Hospital Holding Company was created to help generate funding for the project. The holding company sold 195 shares at $50 each to raise $9,750. Also, fund-raising events were held to supplement the budget. Articles of Incorporation were filed in August 1914. Then in September of 1914 possession of the property was finalized and the funds were used to purchase the building and land, and fund an addition to the hospital. The hospital was reopened in January of 1915.
Mid-1930s: A Modern, New Hospital
Under the direction of the Spencer Hospital Association members, the facility continued to thrive and grow. After nearly 20 years of operations and grow at the West Third Street location, Spencer citizens approved a bond issue which called for using a portion of the city Light Plant funds to assist in construction of a new, 'modern' facility, thus changing ownership from a community hospital managed by a volunteer association to a municipal facility. A new structure was built at the current site of Spencer Hospital and, in 1935, hospital operations were moved to the new hospital building. The hospital has continued to expand and grow over the years.
Volunteerism continues to be the driving force behind the hospital's growth and success. In addition to the hospital auxiliary [link] the Spencer Regional Healthcare Foundation [link] spurs community involvement in local health care issues; thus the tradition of community-supported health care continues.