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. Rehabilitation, surgical services, urgent care, lobby, nutrition services and a clinic will improve access to care for our community

History of 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

Emergency and Urgent Care     

  • 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
  • Trauma rooms were added in 2008

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


  • In 1988, the autologous transfusion program began
  • Alcohol and drug testing for area businesses began in 1995

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

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


  • 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

2018 marked the ground-breaking for a $14 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 provides four social workers who offer 24/7 coverage


  • First full-time hospital pharmacist was hired in 1970
  • The pharmacy was moved from the basement to the third floor in 1970
  • 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
  • Today, our highly qualified rehabilitation specialists offer these therapies and more to help patients recover from an injury or surgery
  • In 2018, the Health Works partnership with Krohn Clinic began, offering customized services in occupational health, health and wellness, educational training, and infection prevention 


  • 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
  • In 2016, we served 1,069 patients in our surgical services department of which 121 were urology patients

Transitional Care (Swing Bed)

  • Transitional Care Program began in 1985. Today services include nursing, nutrition services, physical, occupational, respiratory and speech therapies, pharmacy services and social work services.

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
  • 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.

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