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West Point health care and ministry celebrated




Exercise Specialist Kristi Steffen shows Eleanor Frickenstien how to use one of the NuStep exercise machines located in the exercise room at St. Joseph's Retirement Community in West Point, which is celebrating 100 years.
Photo by Teresa Hasenkamp

By LISA SCHULTE
The Catholic Voice

WEST POINT "“ For the past 100 years, the West Point community has received quality health care and service to the elderly, thanks to the ministry of Franciscan Care Services.

This weekend, the Catholic organization, sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity, will conclude its centennial celebration of 'A Century of Caring: 1905-2005."

On Sunday, Nov. 20, Archbishop Elden Francis Curtiss will dedicate the new rehabilitation center and parking facility and preside at a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Mary Church in West Point. A dinner will be held at St. Joseph's Retirement Community for the Sisters who have served in the health care ministry in West Point, and there will be an open house and tours of the facilities of Franciscan Care Services.

The mission of Franciscan Care Services is to live and promote the healing mission of Jesus Christ, said Ronald Briggs, president of Franciscan Care Services.

Franciscan Care Services, located in West Point, consists of St. Francis Memorial Hospital, Dinklage Medical Clinic and St. Joseph's Retirement Community.

St. Francis Memorial Hospital is a 25-bed acute care facility with inpatient and outpatient services, including obstetrics, surgery, and cardiac rehab.

Dinklage Medical Clinic is a family practice clinic staffed by five physicians and three physician assistants. Satellite clinics are located in Oakland, Wisner, Scribner and Howells.

St. Joseph's Retirement Community houses 70 assisted living apartments and an Adult Day Care to serve the elderly in the community.

'Without the Sisters being involved, health care probably would not do nearly as well," Briggs said. 'There was significant involvement by the Sisters over the 100 years in one fashion or another."

A GROWING HISTORY

Franciscan Care Services was founded by Msgr. Joseph Ruesing, pastor of St. Mary Parish in West Point, in 1905 with the opening of St. Joseph's Home for the Aged, the first of its kind in Northeast Nebraska. The facility was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters, who were running the Catholic schools in West Point.

In 1923, the bottom floor of St. Joseph's Home was turned into a hospital.

Memorial Hospital opened in 1950 and it, too, was staffed by the Franciscan Sisters. In 1964, the hospital was renamed St. Francis Memorial Hospital.

In 1988, St. Joseph's Retirement Community was built to replace St. Joseph's Home.

Major changes occurred within the hospital organization beginning in May of 1995. Two medical clinics across from the hospital were purchased. With the purchasing of these two facilities, a name change occurred. It was named Franciscan Care Services, which was the name chosen to reflect the joining of the hospital, the two clinics and St. Joseph's Retirement Community into one health care system. In July 1998, the Dinklage Medical Clinic, which is attached to the hospital, opened.

Over the years, several renovations have taken place within the hospital, including a new ER entrance, redecorated patient care rooms, a CT scanner in house, new Labor and Delivery area, new Surgery Wing, and a new laboratory and renovated X-Ray Department with updated equipment.

The new rehabilitation center will increase the space of the rehabilitation area from just under 6,000 square feet to close to 15,000 square feet. It's one of the largest hospital-based rehabs in the state of Nebraska based on volume, Briggs said.

CONTINUED INVOLVEMENT

The Franciscan Sisters continue to be a part of Franciscan Care Services in 2005. Currently there are six religious employed by Franciscan Care Services. Six others continue to serve in the West Point schools.

'As a religious community, we wish to continue the healing ministry of Christ, and I think our visibility is a reminder to people that it's not just a job for us, but a ministry," said Sister Mary Beth Prinz, OSF, director of mission. 'We live and promote the healing mission of Jesus and therefore we need to show this compassionate care. We need to be very ethical."

Both Briggs and Sister Prinz praised the volunteer work and support of so many in the community, and said the organization will continue to strive to be the first choice of health care and services to the elderly for Northeast Nebraska.

'That doesn't mean we can do everything for them, but it does mean that we want them to come to us first and we will help them get to where they need to go," Briggs said. 'As part of that, we strive to really have a system here that's not a band aid station. We feel we provide as good of care as they do anywhere around."

The Catholic Voice

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