History of 

Black River

Memorial Hospital

Building Time-Line

  • A capital campaign began in February 1966
  • Construction began August 15, 1966, with $2,132,400 in funding from three sources
    • A grant of federal funds from the Hill Burton Program
    • A bond from the city of Black River Falls
    • Donations from more than 2,000 local citizens (Hospital employees donated over $17,000)
  • March 1, 1968, marked the opening of Black River Memorial Hospital 
  • In 2008, a grand opening was held to celebrate a $23,000,000 construction project
  • In 2012, the Nortman House was purchased to house medical students
  • In 2016, B-Home Services & Supplies opened at 311 County Road A, to house all of our services and supplies for the home, including hospice, homecare, palliative care and a store that sells home medical equipment
  • Our Medical Records and Financial Services building was built on 8th Street in 2017, to help patients with records and billing questions and to make room for additional patient services to be added at the main campus on Adams Street
  • 2018 marked the 50th anniversary for BRMH. A ground-breaking was held in July for a $14.3 million expansion. Physical medicine and rehabilitation, surgical services, urgent care, lobby, nutrition services and a clinic will improve access to care for our community
  • In 2018, BRMH purchased 17.31 acres on County Highway A as part of a long-term facility plan. No immediate usage plan for the parcel at this time however will allow expansion opportunities in the future.
  • 2019 saw a continuation of various phases of construction that began in 2018.
  • Completed construction project and opened Black River Healthcare Clinic

History of Services

Black River Healthcare Clinic

  • Opened July 2020, offering primary care and behavioral health services

Community Education

  • In 1974, education programs began for prenatal care, AODA, Diabetes, Smoking Cessation and CPR
  • First Community Seniors' Health Fair was held in 1987
  • Community education classes on joint replacement, urinary incontinence, sinus procedures, digestive disorders and chronic pain now occur regularly
  • In 2019, Mental Health First Aid training occurred in partnership with the Greater Black River Area Safety Council and the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health


  • X-ray table and image intensifier added in 1968
  • Mobile nuclear medicine became available in 1979
  • Mobile CT scans were available in 1983
  • Beginning in 1994, mobile MRI’s and ultrasounds were added
  • A 1-slice CT scanner was installed in 2000, and replaced with a 64-slice unit in 2006
  • An MRI unit was installed in 2009


  • A 12-bed dialysis unit opened, operated by Gundersen Lutheran Hospital staff in 2007 until they closed their outreach clinics in Richland Center and Black River Falls in 2019


  • In 1972, the hospital supported development of the Black River Falls Ambulance Service
  • 1996 brought the first full-time physician coverage in the Emergency Department
  • The hospital began to employ its own physicians in 1999
  • Urgent care services became available in 1997
  • The new helipad was built in 2007 to be closer for Emergency Department access
  • Trauma rooms were added in 2008
  • New emergency room areas built during the 2018 building project
  • Relocated the registration area, a private dictation area for providers, a new waiting room and vending area for patient comfort in 2019

Hospice, Homecare, Palliative Care

  • In 1982, “Hospice Touch” began in Black River Falls
  • Expanded hospice services became available in 1993 and again in 2003
  • BRMH became licensed to provide Homecare in 2006
  • Homecare began tele-health monitoring in 2009
  • In 2016, B-Home Services & Supplies opened
  • End-of-life Doulas were added in 2019 to the hospice program

Infusion Center

Opened in August 2020, Chemotherapy is offered as a new service line. Other infusion services such as administering antibiotics, biologic and other medications moved from the Med/Surg area to the new space.


  • In 1988, the autologous transfusion program began
  • Alcohol and drug testing for area businesses began in 1995
  • Molecular testing began in 2011
  • In 2016, weekend drug testing began in partnership with Ho-Chunk Healing to Wellness Court and Jackson County Drug Court
  • Multiplex molecular testing for several pathogen panels began in 2017
  • In 2018, the outreach lab program began
  • In 2018, upgraded equipment including higher capacity chemistry and immunoassay instruments 


  • 1986 Public Relations department was added
  • 1998 New website was established - brmh.net
  • 2011 Volunteer Services and Marketing divided into two separate departments
  • New facility logo developed in 2015 incorporating the “B” droplet
  • 2020 Navigated deployment of the COVID pandemic with newly hired PIO
  • New Advertising Agency hired in 2020
  • 2020 Revamped the Momentum quarterly publication
  • 2021 Rebranding of B-Home Services & Supplies, Homecare and Hospice, gift shop and Café began
  • 2021 Developed new website & blog to be rolled out in 2022

Medical / Surgical

  • Specialized coronary care units became available in 1975
  • In 1985, BRMH reduced the number of patient beds from 70 to 51
  • In 2004, BRMH was designated as a Critical Access Hospital and patient beds were reduced to 25
  • In 2012, the Hospitalist program was developed
  • In 2018, a new family waiting room was built

Nutrition Services

  • Menu selection for patients began in 1970
  • In 2008, room services menus were added for patients
  • 2014 marked a 20-year anniversary of BRMH serving Meals on Wheels
  • 2019 brought a complete overhaul of the kitchen with new equipment, a complete new dining space with additional seating and a state of the art servery for patient and customer convenience


  • Over 10,000 babies have been born in the last 50 years
  • Fetal Heart Monitoring began in 1975
  • The newborn hearing screening program was developed in 2000
  • Today, we have four labor and delivery rooms that offer an excellent experience for the whole family
  • In 2018, OB staff received certification as Lactation Counselors through the Healthy Children's Center for Breastfeeding
  • Mamava Lactation Suite added to the department in 2019
  • Nitrous oxide was added as a pain-management option for laboring mothers in 2019

2018 marked the ground-breaking for a $14 million expansion. Rehabilitation, surgical services, urgent care, lobby, nutrition services and a clinic will improve access to care for our community.


  • In 1989, Opthalmology services began for procedures such as cataract removal or intravitreal injections and are performed by visiting specialists


  • Orthopedic surgery provided by visiting specialists has been offered at Black River Memorial Hospital since 1983

Patient and Family Services

  • A social worker was added to the staff in 1973
  • In 1986, Life-Line (now called PERS) was established
  • In 1991 the Advance Directive Program was developed
  • Where services once were limited, Patient and Family Services now has social workers who provide discharge planning seven days a week


  • First full-time hospital pharmacist was hired in 1970
  • The pharmacy has moved locations in the building, first in the lower level, then in 1970 to 3rd floor, then to 1st floor and in 2005 moved to its present location on 2nd floor.
  • A second full-time pharmacist was hired in 2007, and the third was hired in 2016.

Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation

  • In 1994, our rehabilitation department expanded to include physical, occupational and speech therapy which now are offered to help patients recover from an injury or surgery
  • In 2012, a visiting specialist provided services to patients who required custom orthotics, braces, and prosthetics.
  • In 2018, the Health Works partnership with Krohn Clinic began, offering customized services in occupational health, health and wellness, educational training, and infection prevention
  • In 2018, an Occupational Health & Wellness program began to assist athletic training health and wellness
  • 2018 marked the addition of a larger gym, additional exam rooms, and equipment such as an electric parallel bars and a suspension ceiling lift.
  • Following the 2018 construction, cardiac stress testing, pulmonary function testing, nutrition counseling, occupational health and EMG testing moved into this area


  • Our podiatric team has provided treatment for plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammer toes, sprains, arthritis, diabetic foot care and more since early 1980's.


  • Respiratory therapy was added in 1978
  • In 2009, a two-bed sleep lab, pulmonary rehabilitation and a pulmonary function lab were added
  • Better Breathers Support Group began in 2012

Sleep Lab

  • A one-bed sleep lab was established in 2002
  • Additional sleep lab opened in 2009
  • Sleep Center received accreditation from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, December 2018

Specialty Services       

  • In 1983, specialists began visits that included Cardiology, Urology, Neurology, Orthopedics, Psychology and Ophthalmology
  • Helicopter services from Mayo and UW Madison began in 1985

Surgical Services

  • Surgical procedures have been performed since 1968
  • Same-Day surgery began in 1984
  • The first computerized anesthesia machine was purchased in 1989
  • The first laparoscopic surgery was performed in 1990
  • 2008 brought enhanced operating room suites
  • 2,164 patients were served in 2019, in the Surgical Services Dept.
  • In 2019, additional patient rooms, an endoscopy suite, an updated procedure room, lighting and electrical equipment was added

Transitional Care (Swing Bed)

  • Transitional Care Program began in 1985.
  • In 2019, a team approach provides doctors, nurses, nutrition services, physical, occupational, respiratory and speech therapies, pharmacy services and social work services that provide daily care to patients to improve their strength and ability to return home. 

Volunteer Services

  • Forty-four charter members brought an Auxiliary organization to BRMH in 1967.
  • In 1978, the Tele-Care program started
  • In 1986, the Love Light Tree Fundraiser began
  • The Pet Therapy program began in 2010
  • A Volunteer Services Department was formed in 2011 to encompass volunteers for hospice, transportation needs and Partners
  • In 2011 the Personal Emergency Response System (PERS) replaced the Lifeline Program
  • Fifty years later, the name has changed but the vision remains the same. Partners of Black River Memorial Hospital give freely of their time with skill and energy supporting the hospital and its mission.

Wound Care Center

  • 2020 saw the opening of the Wound Care Center to care for people with complex, non-healing wounds.

©2022 Black River Memorial Hospital