Eau Claire’s Lifelines
the story of the city’s hospitals stretches back to its earliest days
Other than a handful of small and short-lived predecessors, the first significant hospital in the city’s history was Sacred Heart. On Oct 7, 1889, two nuns from the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis arrived in Eau Claire from their Motherhouse in Springfield, Illinois, to plant the seed of a hospital. The following year, the three-story Sacred Heart Hospital opened on North Dewey Street, next to the Catholic church that shared its name. In the first year, the hospital cared for 275 patients
In 1917, Sacred Heart opened its School of Nursing and had its first graduating class of seven. The hospital gradually expand to accommodate the growing community, eventually relocating to a new building on Clairemont Avenue in 1964. The hospital has continued to grow at that site, and is now officially known as HSHS Sacred Heart because of its affiliation with the Springfield, Illinois-based Hospital Sisters Health System.
Mayo Clinic Health System is another pillar of Eau Claire’s medical community. The current institution – which is part of the Rochester, Minnesota-based Mayo Clinic – came about through several mergers.
The original Luther Hospital was created thanks to the efforts of Lutheran pastors and many donors. It opened in 1908 on Chestnut Street, serving 195 patients during its first 12 months. By 1910, the hospital opened a nursing school, which grew along as the hospital did.
Meanwhile, in 1927, a Norwegian immigrant, Dr. Hans Christian Midelfart, established a clinic downtown. In 1969, the clinic moved to a new building on West Clairemont Avenue and changed its name to Midelfort Clinic. In 1995, Midelfort Clinic built a five-story medical office next to the hospital. Three years earlier, Luther Hospital and Midelfort Clinic had joined the world-renowned Mayo Clinic.
The institution was officially renamed Mayo Clinic Health System in 2011, and today has more than 200 doctors covering nearly every medical specialty.