Bay Area Medical Center (BAMC) was created in 1985, but its history dates back to the late 1800s, when Marinette and Menominee each had its own hospital.
That history is marked by 2 recurring themes: institutions looking to find better ways to meet the healthcare needs of their communities and communities demonstrating a strong interest and willingness to support their hospitals.
The 1st qualified surgeon to come to the Twin City area was Dr. Horace Mann, who founded what was then known as the Menominee River Hospital. In 1884, it was renamed the M&M Hospital.
The M&M Hospital was located on Mann Street behind the former Knights of Columbus building. The history of the hospital was closely tied to the Boren family. In 1886, John Boren became the hospital's superintendent and his wife, Anna, became the nursing supervisor.
The hospital served lumber camps as far away as Dunbar and Spalding. Boren began selling hospital tickets, a form of health insurance, to the workers. A $10 ticket was good for a hospital stay.
As early as 1935, the idea of building a Marinette County hospital was considered. However, it was not until 1938, when it became apparent that the 57-year-old M&M Hospital was likely to close, that the Marinette County Board began the process of building a replacement facility. Marinette General Hospital opened its doors on Sept. 3, 1940. Located at the current BAMC site, Marinette General had an 80-bed capacity and cost $315,000. It was said to rival the facilities of any city hospital.
The hospital was funded through a Public Works Grant, a citizens' fundraising effort and county dollars. The site, which included 52 acres, cost the county $1,200. The architect was Allan Wallsworth, a graduate of Marinette High School.
The beds, frames and nursery equipment were designed by Dr. J.W. Boren and manufactured at Lloyd Manufacturing Co. in Menominee.
In 1966, Marinette General expanded its role in patient care with the addition of a 40-bed extended care unit. An additional 57 beds were added in February 1972, because the average occupancy level was more than 115 percent during the period of 1968 through 1971. This made a total of 175 beds available in the facility. By 1975, most of these beds were decertified, leaving 99 medical/surgical beds.
Menominee, Michigan, was a leading lumber center of the Midwest in the late 1800s. Accidents frequently happened in the lumber camps, and there was no hospital or medical facility in the community. The Bay Shore Hospital Association was organized in 1889. Its members contacted the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis, who had recently established a hospital in Escanaba, Michigan, asking them to assist in providing medical and hospital care for Menominee. The association purchased a 2-story, 9-room hotel in west Menominee—The Montreal House—which was remodeled and renamed Providence Hospital.
The small hospital was always overcrowded, and in 1891, a new building was constructed. The new St. Joseph's Hospital was built on the current site of the Menominee facility next to what was then Epiphany Church (now Holy Spirit Church) on 10th Avenue. The nuns solicited the lumber camps for money, traveling by foot from camp to camp.
St. Joseph's Hospital underwent a number of expansions, beginning in 1900 and continuing until 1911. These added a surgical suite, 16 additional beds in the north wing, a 3-story structure with 16 private rooms, a laboratory and x-ray department, a 3rd-floor maternity department, a chapel, and quarters for the Sisters. The hospital's bed capacity at that time was 75.
When local industrialist Marshall Lloyd died in 1927, he left his fortune to the people of Menominee specifically to be used for the healthcare of the community. A new hospital, located adjacent to St. Joseph's Hospital and called Marshall Lloyd Hospital, was dedicated in 1950. The 2 hospitals were operated by the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis and shared a variety of services to avoid duplication. The hospital was later renamed St. Joseph's-Lloyd Hospital to reflect this relationship.
The years 1973 and 1974 brought financial problems to the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis. Few physical plant improvements had been made, and in 1973 the Order determined that it could not afford to make the necessary upgrades to meet fire and safety codes.
In 1973, by mutual agreement, the obstetrical unit of St. Joseph's-Lloyd was relocated to Marinette General Hospital. This move marked the 1st shared service and the 1st consolidation discussions between the 2 hospitals.
In 1974, the Order announced that it was divesting its interest in St. Joseph's-Lloyd. With overwhelming community support, Menominee County assumed legal ownership of the renamed Menominee County Lloyd Hospital.
In 1976, the voters of Menominee County overwhelmingly approved a bond issue to build a new wing to the Lloyd portion of the hospital. That work was completed in 1980.
In 1983, following critical changes in the healthcare industry, a study jointly commissioned by the hospitals recommended the consolidation of the 2 facilities to ensure the continuation of high-quality healthcare. Plans to merge the 2 hospitals began, and community meetings were held to inform the public of the proposed changes.
In September of 1985, the officials from Marinette and Menominee counties signed a 20-year lease with BAMC, a newly created not-for-profit healthcare organization. That became effective on October 1, 1985. The counties would retain ownership of the 2 hospital buildings and would lease them to BAMC in exchange for providing care to the medically indigent. This marked a 1st in the merging of hospital facilities across state lines.
A consolidation plan went into effect in 1986, combining services at each building. At this time, the emergency department was consolidated at the Marinette facility. After lengthy public debate, acute care was moved to Marinette, and the psychiatric unit moved to Menominee. Then, in a final step of the consolidation, BAMC paid off the Menominee facility's $3.5 million debt to Menominee County.
Building and growing
The scope of services was once again expanded with the opening of the Bay Area Cancer Care Center in January 1992. This joint venture with St. Vincent Regional Cancer Center in Green Bay allowed BAMC to provide chemotherapy services and radiation therapy.
In 1994, another major construction project further expanded the hospital's services, as the medical office building that adjoins the Marinette facility was completed. Major projects for 1996 included the relocation of nonclinical personnel to the Menominee campus and the move of occupational health and outpatient rehabilitation services to 1510 Main St. in Marinette.
Sale or affiliation talks
In 1997, the BAMC board began holding talks with Quorum, a for-profit hospital group, regarding the possible sale of the hospital. After introducing the sales offer to the county boards in late 1997, it became a hotly debated issue at county and hospital board meetings, in the newspaper, and in public forums through the better part of 1999.
The offer from Quorum took the county boards and the community by surprise and created a drawn-out debate on who owned the hospital and who controlled its destiny as well as about how open the hospital had to be with the public regarding its deliberations.
In 1999, the hospital medical staff issued a no-confidence vote in BAMC CEO Rick Ament. Aurora also announced its intention to build a new hospital in Green Bay and a surgery center in Marinette.
In May 2000, Ament announced his resignation. The board appointed David Olson as interim CEO, and in November, Olson was named CEO. The issue of selling the hospital faded away as plans were put into place to expand services to better meet approaching competition.
On Oct. 1, 2000, BellinHealth of Green Bay and BAMC formed a joint venture network of primary care physicians (PCPs) with clinics in Marinette and Menominee counties. The move united 10 local clinics to preserve and enhance healthcare services. The NorthReach Healthcare physician base has grown to become the largest group of PCPs in the community.
The Twin Counties Free Clinic
In 1998, Aurora Healthcare and BAMC announced donations of $150,000 and $100,000, respectively, to support the start of Twin Counties Free Clinic. The clinic, currently housed in the BAMC Financial Services Building, helps meet the needs of county residents who do not have health coverage. BAMC and Aurora support the clinic through ongoing financial support and volunteer commitments from medical staff and employees.
Another building boom
In the summer of 2001, BAMC opened the Center for Outpatient Services. The 71,000-square-foot facility was the largest expansion in BAMC history and effectively consolidated outpatient services and surgery into 1 place. The 3-story structure included a new laboratory as well as outpatient surgery rooms and private rooms for patients to use before and after surgery.
In 2004, after the most successful fundraising effort in community history, the newly remodeled Bay Area Cancer Care Center opened its doors. The $7 million expanded center now offers state-of-the-art radiation treatment, and in 2006, it began offering clinical trials to patients.
The Mobility Center, a facility for physical and occupational therapy, also opened in 2004. Home to a wide range of services, it includes an aquatic therapy pool and Bay Area Orthopaedics Consultants clinic.
In 2005, a new facility was built to house the financial services functions that had been located in the Menominee building. The move to the Financial Services Building in the summer of 2005 was the last step in returning the Menominee building to the county in October of that year.