In 1954, the newly formed Waconia Community Hospital Association assumed operations of the Nagel Hospital. Its board of directors invited doctors in Carver County to form a medical staff which “when consummated will in all probability necessitate an enlargement of the hospital”—a hospital then housed in a one-story facility on Elm Street (which later became Nightingale Nursing Home). “In all probability” became a reality within the next decade.
Waconia Ridgeview Hospital Opened Its Doors
In 1962, construction began on a new 45-bed community-owned hospital located on the high ridge southwest of town. “Waconia Ridgeview Hospital” opened its doors on July 27, 1963. Ten years later, Ridgeview underwent a major expansion, adding a third floor and a capacity of 109 beds and 20 bassinets. With the addition of new surgical, pediatric and intensive care units plus a number of other improvements, Ridgeview met its current needs while preparing for the future.
Growth Brings New Services
The 1980s brought a health care revolution and another step in Ridgeview’s move from a small community hospital to a regional medical center. With a tremendous growth in population and a shift in emphasis from inpatient to ambulatory and outreach care, Ridgeview responded by providing not only comprehensive primary and secondary medical services, but a broad array of outreach programs and services including home care, business/occupational health, sports medicine and additional health/wellness activities.
Major Expansion Efforts
In April 1990, ground was broken for an $11 million expansion which included a new emergency care facility and ambulance garages. This building program also allowed for expansion in the surgery areas (including the development of a same-day surgery complex), maternal child health, lab, radiology, medical records, communication center and a gift shop. With additional support from Ridgeview Foundation, a large auditorium was added to the Waconia campus to allow for educational meetings and community gatherings.
That major expansion also brought a new name. According to President John Devins, “We want to assure the people of our service area that although our name and look have changed, our values have not. Our tradition of excellent medical care delivered by caring professionals will remain the same. But our ability to deliver that care will be greatly enhanced by this building expansion ... the name, ‘Ridgeview Medical Center’ will better describe who we are and what we do.”
A new private medical office building, Ridgeview Medical Place, was built in 1995, located just north of Ridgeview Medical Center. This facility allowed additional services—including radiation therapy, oncology care and dialysis—to be offered to patients in Waconia rather than referring to other hospitals. An underground tunnel connecting the building to the hospital was also built to allow for transportation of patients between the two buildings.
Devins retired in 1996, after having served the Waconia Community Hospital (1959-63), Waconia Ridgeview Hospital (1963-90) and Ridgeview Medical Center (1990-96) for 37 years. Under his leadership, the once 27-bed, 8-bassinet community hospital with four to six physicians had grown to a major regional medical center with more than 200 physicians in 25 specialties. It also purchased Chanhassen Medical Center, a family care clinic located in downtown Chanhassen.
Ridgeview Welcomes New CEO
Ridgeview welcomed a new CEO, Robert Stevens, in late 1996. His vision to strengthen Ridgeview’s scope of health care and information services in the growing western Twin City suburbs led to the acquisition of additional neighborhood clinics (located in Howard Lake, Winsted, Mound, Maple Plain and Delano) and to the development of a unique “hospital without beds” in Chaska. The multi-specialty Ridgeview Chaska Medical Plaza—developed in partnership with several private practice groups—offers general and specialized care, same-day surgery and other services. Ridgeview also purchased Mobile Medical Equipment Closet, a home medical equipment business, and created a formal hospice care program to augment its home care services. With support from Ridgeview Foundation, a chapel and meditation garden were constructed in 1998.
Ridgeview prepared for the new millennium by breaking ground in 1999 on another major expansion on the Waconia campus. The multi-million dollar building project included the expansion of imaging services, including an on-site magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) facility, as well as the construction of a state-of-the-art cardiac-intensive care unit (CICU). A financial gift from the former Nightingale Center Nursing Home also helped open the “Nightingale Center” geriatric behavioral services unit in 1999.
The hospital operated as a government (community-owned) organization until January 1, 2000, when it became an independent, nonprofit hospital. The city of Waconia retained ownership of the hospital building, which is leased to Ridgeview and operated by its administrators and board of directors.
In 2001, Ridgeview opened a CICU and Imaging Center. In 2002 construction of new clinic buildings began in Delano, Chanhassen and Howard Lake (which were occupied in 2003). The following year, Ridgeview completed construction of two new operating rooms in Surgery. It was also granted legislative approval to increase license from 109 to 129 beds. In 2004, Ridgeview began construction of a new 15,000-square-foot Ridgeview Excelsior Clinic, which opened in the spring of 2005.
The following spring, in 2006, Ridgeview broke ground for the Ridgeview Heart Center and a Center for Women & Children, as well as a high-tech Communications Center, which will back up Carver County’s main 911 emergency system in case of failure.
A new century and millennium have brought additional health care changes and opportunities. Ridgeview is prepared to meet those challenges with the same commitment to quality patient care that helped a small drugstore hospital evolve into one of the region’s most respected medical centers.