St. Joseph's

History of St. Joseph's Hospital

Froedtert Health St. Joseph's Hospital is dedicated to providing patients and families in and around Washington County with personalized, trusted care.

During the first few decades of the 20th Century, doctors treated patients at home. By 1927, the city of West Bend had a population of nearly 4,000, and was in need of a modern hospital to serve the whole community. Doctors, community leaders, and the Sisters of the Divine Savior met and made plans to finance a new 25-bed hospital. So on June 17, 1930, the sisters who were to staff St. Joseph's Hospital moved in. They saw their first patient on July 6, 1930.

The hospital continued to grow despite the Depression, thanks to the hard work of the sisters who, living in quarters at the hospital, worked 12-hour days and took only one Sunday off per month. They took care of patient needs, the cleaning, and food preparation among many other tasks, such as hand-assembling medical dressings.

In 1941, St. Joseph's Hospital built a three-story addition to provide 32 beds. The government limited construction during World War II, but citizens petitioned the War Production Board and succeeded in getting permission to build. Another addition was made in 1947, bringing the hospital to a total of 97 beds.

The 1930s and 1940s brought pharmaceutical advances, providing penicillin to battle outbreaks of rheumatic fever. And West Bend residents turned to St. Joseph's when two serious polio epidemics hit the 1940s. Doctors made house calls to treat many of the cases. Until the 1970s, general practitioners treated most everything that came their way, whether it was performing surgery or delivering babies. They also alternated emergency calls on one- or two-week rotations.

Our nation experienced many changes in the 1960s, and the hospital started the decade as a 100-bed hospital with over 60 full-time employees. In 1967, the hospital was organized as a separate corporation with an elected board of directors and, in-1971, ownership was transferred from the sisters to the community corporation. A major expansion was announced in 1970 that would bring the hospital to 115 beds. The four-story addition opened four years later. Throughout the years, St. Joseph's responded to the needs of the community. West Bend experienced a deadly tornado in April 1981, and the hospital was filled to capacity in order to care for over 50 of the victims. In 1988, the hospital established 24-hour, 7-day-a-week physician coverage for emergencies.

More expansions were made in 1990, as well as a number of new technological advances. Data processing became a necessity, and computer capabilities meant extremely fast, accurate lab results for technologists. In May 2000 a new Cancer Care Center was opened with a state-of-the art linear accelerator.

A major announcement came in 2000 when the hospital board announced plans to design and build a replacement hospital at a new location on Highway 45 and Pleasant Valley Road. The formation of a partnership between St. Joseph's Hospital and the West Bend Clinic to create a new health system followed closely in 2002, along with formation of a foundation. 

On August 7, 2005, the new St. Joseph's Hospital opened just one month after the hospital's 75th anniversary celebration. The new hospital, designed from the ground up with patient safety and quality in the blueprint, gained national attention for its innovative "safety by design" process. Today the hospital has maintained an emphasis on patient safety and satisfaction, and is using new technology such as bar-coding, electronic medical records (EMR) and other Epic applications to help achieve its goals.

The new campus has continued to grow with the addition of a medical building adjacent to the hospital in 2006 and, earlier that year, the opening of The Kathy Hospice, an eight-bedroom residential hospice facility, the first of its kind in the county. St. Joseph's Hospital has always held quality care as its standard of service. In continuation of their dedication to superior patient care, St. Joseph's Hospital and West Bend Clinic joined forces in 2008 with the Froedtert Health system, and are now system partners with Froedtert Hospital, Milwaukee, and Community Memorial Hospital, Menomonee Falls.

In February 2009, the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Specialty Clinics opened at St. Joseph's Hospital. Developed through a collaborative effort between Froedtert Health and The Medical College of Wisconsin, the new clinic and the addition of Medical College physicians in the community expanded the depth of expertise and services available to patients in West Bend and Washington County. In July 2012, a new 21,000-square-foot facility was built on the campus for an expanded Specialty Clinics and the new home of the Kraemer Cancer Center, part of the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Cancer Network.