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Lake Region Healthcare Corporation timeline, based on newspaper articles and the Otter Tail County Historical Society.

St. Luke's Hospital

1900 to 1929


  • Oct. 16: Excavating of building begins.


  • September: Building is dedicated.


  • Addition is built on south of building.


  • April 12: John Lauritzen receives $25,000 contract for large addition.


  • Nov. 8: St. Luke's Hospital is approved by American College of Surgeons.


  • Sept. 24: New wing is finished.


  • Aug. 8: The new addition is dedicated.
  • Building with addition is added to main building and north building.

1930 to 1959


  • Feb. 16: St. Luke's Hospital is now a 75-bed hospital.


  • November: Hospital is now free of debt.

Wright Memorial Hospital

1900 to 1929


  • May: Wright family proposes to build as a gift to the city.
  • Sept. 17: Association is formed.


  • May: Foundation work begins.


  • May 25: Officially organized previous week.
  • November: Ownership of the hospital is transferred to the association.


  • Jan. 1: Hospital opens to public New Year's Day; north addition added; west addition added.


  • February: New Studebaker ambulance is bought for the Wright and St. Luke's hospitals for $700.


  • June 3: Nurses' home is built.


  • June 15: It was decided to expand the hospital.


  • Aug. 19: 25th anniversary and dedication of enlarged hospital.
  • Aug. 23: New wing opens.

1930 to 1959


  • Hospital receives $20,000 from the estate of the late Dr. T.N. Kittelson.


  • Oct. 21: Property is sold to Otter Tail Power Company.
  • Dec. 18: Hospital closes.

Lake Region Healthcare

1950 to 1959


  • St. Luke's and Wright Memorial merge.


  • March 4: Plans to build addition begin.


  • Dec. 30: Patients move from Wright Memorial to St. Luke's Hospital, forming a single unit.


  • Sept. 13: Hospital is fully accredited.


  • Jan. 19: Plans for new hospital project/drawing for addition complete.
  • Jan. 22: Hospital purchases a new x-ray unit.
  • March 4: Loan is needed.
  • April: Groundbreaking for remodeling project.
  • Aug. 12: Hospital ranks high in the nation.
  • Nov. 26: H.E. Swenson heads hospital drive.
  • Dec. 13: Hospital receives $47,000 from Ford Foundation.


  • Jan. 19: $196,806 goal is set.


  • May 22: Tumor clinic opens.
  • Aug. 7: Wright Memorial Hospital is torn down.


  • Jan. 17: Children's recovery room is pledged.


  • March 19: Snack bar completes its first year.
  • June 28: Hospital is dedicated.
  • June 30: Open house event takes place, with 1,000 people touring.
  • Oct. 17: Hospital receives $400 grant from the American Cancer Society.


  • May 14: Convalescent ward for children is added.
  • Dec. 5: Hospital receives polio equipment from national foundation.
  • Dec. 31: Physical therapy starts.

1960 to 1969


  • May 9: Auxiliary purchases a turning bed.


  • Aug. 2: Hospital acquires purchase agreements in block; buys homes for expansion.


  • July 16: $469,979 is allocated from Hill-Burton Fund.


  • Remodeling adds the long-term care unit.

1970 to 1979


  • April: Four-bed detox unit opens.
  • Dec. 26: Five-bed intensive coronary care unit replaces two-bed.


  • March 7: This year, 32 doctors serve 5,000 patients.


  • March: Ultrasound diagnostic unit added.

1980 to 1989


  • Two new floors are added to the hospital.
  • There is a registered nurse shortage.


  • Jan. 20: New emergency room is added.


  • Sept. 21: Computed tomography (CT) mobile unit is added.


  • New sports medicine clinic opens.
  • July 12: New emergency response center; Lifeline is added.


  • Feb. 3: CT unit scanner is added.
  • Sept. 17: New mammogram unit is installed.


  • March: Hospital acquires a new Surgilaser.


  • Hospital opens new birthing suites.
  • Oct. 6: Psychiatric unit opens.


  • Nov. 25: One of four new operating rooms opens.

1990 to 1999


  • Cardiac rehabilitation is added.


  • First chaplain of the hospital begins work.


  • Construction begins on $5.455 million project for a new assisted living facility on the Lake Region Healthcare campus.


  • Oct. 1: Mill Street Residence, an assisted living facility, opens its doors.


  • Feb. 10: Plans for expansion begin.


  • Feb. 25: Operating room and ambulatory surgery area are added.

2000 to 2009


  • June - $7.5 million in renovations begin.


  • September: Landmark is completed on medical campus.


  • Center for Rehabilitation 14-bed unit is built.
  • Physical medicine department expands.
  • Birthing suite is relocated and updated.
  • Bridgeway Inpatient Psychiatric is relocated and expanded from 9 to 14 beds.
  • Radiology department replaces its CT scan, special fluoroscopy and nuclear medicine equipment.
  • New interventional radiology suite is installed.


  • Internet connectivity, including wireless, is now available.
  • Land purchased for $672,000 for new clinic building in Ashby.
  • August: Construction begins for a mobile scanner pad and a helipad.
  • December: $5.2 million expansion and renovation project in the emergency and radiology departments begins.


  • Center for Rehabilitation and SameDay Surgery projects begin.
  • October: Construction of the $2 million Mehl Center begins.
  • November: New storage building on Mill Street is completed.


  • January: $579,000 helipad project completed.
  • December: Center for Rehabilitation and SameDay Surgery projects completed.


  • January: Expansion of the emergency department by four additional treatment rooms and a new double-ambulance-bay garage completed.
  • March: Radiology's extensive renovation project is completed, including most rooms being enlarged and the addition of an interventional radiological suite and mammography suite. All patient dressing areas and restrooms were enlarged, and a waiting room was relocated to be more convenient.
  • April: Public dedication of Mehl Center, including celebration for the opening of the Athletic Republic, takes place.
  • June: Lake Region Healthcare and the Lake Region Healthcare Foundation launch first capital campaign in approximately 35 years to construct a $9.6 million comprehensive cancer care center. The 15,000-square-foot cancer care center is to be built on the south portion of the Lake Region Healthcare campus. It is scheduled to open in late 2009 and is to consolidate existing services and provide expanded comprehensive cancer care services, including radiation, to our patients.
  • July: Pharmacy remodel is completed.

2010 to present


  • The Cancer Care & Research Center opens on the south end of our campus.


  • February: A new Walk-In Clinic opens on the west side of town to offer extended hours and no-appointment access.
  • September: Phatty Nattie's Group Fitness Facility joins Lake Region Healthcare and opens a new workout studio in the lower level of the Cancer Care & Research Center as part of the organization's ongoing commitment to wellness and preventive healthcare.


  • January: The second floor of the hospital is remodeled for the opening of a new Orthopedic Joint Care Center, offering a comprehensive joint replacement and rehabilitation program.
  • May: Ground is broken on Lake Region Takes Root—a community garden and local food initiative on Kennedy Park Circle in Fergus Falls. A 1.5 acre parcel of land donated to Lake Region Healthcare will be used to grow and distribute foods for families having difficulty accessing healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables.


  • May: Lake Region Home Medical Supply Store opens on West Lincoln Avenue. The retail store is a partnership between LRH and Rice Home Medical in Willmar, Minnesota.
  • September: Ground is broken for a new main clinic on West Vernon Avenue. The 80,000-square-foot building is scheduled to open in late 2015. A temporary entrance and parking lot are planned. Final demolition and completion of parking areas are planned for mid-2016.
  • September: Dr. Owen Thompson of the Barnesville Area Clinic announces the merger of his clinic with Lake Region Healthcare. Barnesville is now the fourth outreach location for LRH, in addition to the clinics in Ashby and Battle Lake and the Elbow Lake Eye Clinic.


  • Lake Region Healthcare and Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services (PRHHS) in Elbow Lake announce the two healthcare systems will integrate, effective Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Cardiology services are expanded with the addition of a full-time cardiologist, Dr. JoEllen Kohlman Petrick.
  • LRH CEO Larry Schulz is honored by the Minnesota Hospital Association with the Stephen Rogness Distinguished Service Award. Schulz is also named by Gov. Mark Dayton as one of 11 appointees to a task force, created through legislation earlier in the year to tackle questions about financing and operating the state's healthcare programs, including MNsure and MinnesotaCare.
  • Lawrence Blue is named CEO at Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services.
  • Lucia Anderson, MBA, BSN, RN, is named chief operating officer, in addition to her role as chief nursing officer, for the organization.
  • Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) and Dave Gaustad of 20/20 Optical announces a purchase agreement, effective Sept. 1, 2015, for LRH to acquire the optical shop that has operated from a leased space at LRH for nearly two decades.
  • Doors open on the new $30 million, 80,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art clinic building on time and on budget on Dec. 14, 2015.


  • Lake Region Healthcare's community garden, Lake Region Takes Root, is among the innovative programs and outstanding leaders in healthcare honored by the Minnesota Hospital Association (MHA). In its third year, the garden produces 7,781 pounds of food, impacting 3,500 individuals in the community with its donations of food to the Otter Tail County Women Infant & Children program and three area food shelves.
  • Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) was named one of the Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals in the United States by The Chartis Center for Rural Health.


  • In February, Lake Region Healthcare was named one of the 2017 Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals in the U.S. according to the National Rural Health Association's Rural Health Policy Institute, iVantage Health Analytics and The Chartis Center for Rural Health.
  • In May, the organization was also named to the Becker's Hospital Review 2017 edition of 100 Great Community Hospitals list based on rankings and awards from organizations such as the NRHA, iVantage Health Analyticis, Truven Health Analytics, Healthgrades, CareChex, and the Leapfrog Group.
  • The Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) Board of Trustees selected Kyle Richards as the organization’s new Chief Executive Officer. Richards began his role as CEO at Lake Region Healthcare in June, 2017 and replaced Larry Schulz, who retired at the end of May after nine years of service with the organization.
  • In its ongoing commitment to the fight against breast cancer, LRH begins to offer Genius™ 3D MAMMOGRAPHY™ exams, developed by Hologic, Inc., a worldwide leader in Women’s Health.


  • Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) was named one of the Top 100 Rural & Community Hospitals in the United States by The Chartis Center for Rural Health for the third consecutive year.
  • Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) becomes an affiliate of Rock Steady Boxing, a low-impact, non-contact exercise program aimed at helping people with Parkinson’s Disease fight back against the neurological effects of the disease.
  • The American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO) Accreditation Program granted full accreditation to Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) Cancer Center and Research Center after a formal application and on-site peer survey.


  • Phatty Nattie's Group Fitness Center, a Lake Region Healthcare wellness program, celebrates 10 years of changing lives through classes designed to be social and to promote friendship and motivation along with fitness for combined stronger and more confident people.
  • Jamie Nordick (Cancer Center Director) and Gary Spies (Board of Trustees) were honored as the organization’s inaugural Award of Excellence recipients at the Foundation's Spring Gala.
  • Appleton Area Heath Services (AAHS) and Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) announced their Boards approved formal agreement to collaborate in expanding healthcare services to the region.
  • The Lake Region Run celebrates 10-years of raising money for the Cancer Care & Research Center through the community Half Marathon, 5K and 1 mile race.
  • LRH and Otter Tail County partner for a new Community Service Program called YARD - Youth Actively Restoring Debt, which sentences at-risk youth who harm their bodies through chemical use to sessions in the LRH CrossFit gym to promotes healthy behaviors, develops a sense of pro-social community and allow for a supportive environment to make better decisions.
  • Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) was awarded an ‘A’ from The Leapfrog Group’s Hospital Safety Grade in both the Spring and the Fall rating periods.The designation recognizes LRH’s efforts in protecting patients from harm and providing safer health care.

Prairie Ridge Healthcare


In 1958, an organization was formed by concerned citizens to help bring a hospital to Elbow Lake. These citizens saw a great need to have local access to healthcare due to loved ones dying in transit to emergency care. As a result, construction of the building began in October of 1960, and Elbow Lake Community Memorial Hospital opened its doors with a dedication and open house on Sunday, December 3, 1961. The hospital was property of the Elbow Lake Hospital District and was managed by the board of directors of the Elbow Lake Community Memorial Hospital, Inc.

In November of 1976, a proposal was passed by the citizens of Grant County to expand the limits of the Community Memorial Hospital to a countywide hospital, thus being sold to the county and becoming Grant County Hospital. After several years, county board members; community leaders; and Dr. Larry Rapp, the local physician, met to develop a new organization model to serve the people in Grant County. In order to make the hospital more cost-effective, it was decided to integrate all medical, hospital and other healthcare services into a single structure. In 1993, the Grant County Hospital became the Grant County Health Center, which became a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.

In 2002 the hospital underwent another name change to ELEAH Medical Center, which symbolized the first letter of each town in which there was a clinic—Elbow Lake, Evansville, Ashby, and Hoffman. In 2005 ELEAH Medical Center became a critical access hospital (CAH), and in 2007 ELEAH Medical Center established an outpatient clinic in Morris, Minnesota, which offered primary care, outreach and surgical services. In May of 2010, ELEAH became Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services.

Prairie Ridge continues to change in order to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

In May of 2014, Prairie Ridge Hospital and Health Services in Elbow Lake moved into a new facility. This move allowed Prairie Ridge to better serve the healthcare need of the community with a higher level of safety and privacy, state-of-the-art technology, and new services.

In December of 2014, Lake Region Healthcare (LRH) in Fergus Falls and Prairie Ridge Hospital & Health Services (PRHHS) in Elbow Lake announced an agreement to integrate the two health care systems. The announcement was made official by the Board Chairpersons for each organization, Stephen Rufer at LRH and Gene Wenstrom at PRHHS. Integration was described as the third and final stage of a three-phase affiliation agreement between the two systems that started in 2011.According to LRH CEO, Larry Schulz, “This is a natural progression in our long-term partnership that will bring opportunities for expanded services and specialists to PRHHS and strengthen both systems amidst the significant changes and challenges surrounding the delivery of affordable health care services.” “LRH has been a great help in recruiting doctors and advanced practice providers to both our Elbow Lake and Morris campus and in providing visiting specialists to our hospital and clinics. We are pleased that this agreement will help expand services even more while keeping operations and oversight of PRHHS in the hands of our local hospital board," Wenstrom said.

In March of 2017 Prairie Ridge opened a new satellite clinic in Herman, bringing the number of our locations to six.

In November of 2022, Prairie Ridge Healthcare changed its name to Lake Region Healthcare reflecting the alignment of the two organizations. At the same time we adopted the Epic® electronic medical record system toward our mission of partnering to enrich life through health. With both the Fergus Falls and Elbow Lake hospitals and all of the clinic locations under the same name, we were able to roll out the Epic electronic medical record system and create one unified patient record system throughout our care locations for a safer and more seamless care experience. Rest assured, behind our name change and the new Epic system you’ll find the same great local care and the same exceptional people who are here for you. Always.