HSHS St. Clare Memorial, Oconto Falls hospital, marks century of care

OCONTO FALLS – HSHS St. Clare Memorial Hospital marked its first century of service with a Mass of Celebration and other events on Wednesday.

“What a legacy of care for those in need, especially of health care,” Green Bay Diocese Bishop David Ricken said in opening his homily.

The hospital’s staff, many of whom attended the outdoor Mass, were performing “incredibly important work,” Ricken said.

“You’re here in this place because somehow it’s an assignment in this time in your life to care for the sick in the name of Jesus Christ, for the sake of his mission, and to do that in a way that is truly beautiful and shows the beauty of when religion and medicine work together,” he said.

Bishop David Ricken gives the homily during an outdoor Mass in celebration of HSHS St. Clare Hospital's 100th anniversary in Oconto Falls on June 1.

Ricken thanked the hospital’s employees, who he noted “walk the extra mile to take care of people,” especially during the pandemic, which delayed the anniversary celebration by a year.

“You are the heroes in all of this … and you still are, and you do it day after day after day,” he said.

Dan Boettcher, chair of the HSHS St. Clare Memorial board of directors, said the facility “continues to grow and has come a long way” since it opened as Oconto Falls City Hospital at 125 S. Main St.

Dan Boettcher

In 1954, the hospital moved to the former old city hall, expanding from 25 to 34 beds, then moved to the current location, 855 S. Main St., in a new building with 104 beds in 1972. From 1994 to 2006, what was then called Community Memorial Hospital opened primary clinics in Oconto Falls, Gillett, Lena, Mountain and Suring.

And in 2003, a $9 million expansion and renovation of the hospital was completed.