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Quality health care, close to home

Providing quality health care services close to home is the mission of Stevens Community Medical Center (SCMC) in Morris, and the SCMC team works very hard to achieve that mission in the rapidly changing landscape of health care.

“We really strive to keep our patients close to home,” said Robi Bowman, licensed social worker and member of SCMC’s Quality/Marketing team. “Our staff of providers can meet the needs of many patients, when our providers can’t meet the specialty needs of their patients we work to get those specialists under our roof to see the patient so they don’t have to drive elsewhere for care.  We have numerous specialists who provide outreach services at SCMC, including urology and cardiology.”

The city of Morris is known as a bustling college community in a rural atmosphere with big city conveniences. Its history in health care dates back to 1876, when Dr. E. R. Wait started providing services out of his home in Morris.  A few years later, the first female physician in Morris, Dr. C. A. Bennett, started a practice in her home.  The first hospital was opened in 1916 by Dr. E. F. Fitzgerald, who also operated it out of his home. By the 1940s, residents of Stevens County were calling for a new, public hospital, and in 1951, Stevens County Memorial Hospital opened its doors.

SCMC is still located where its roots began; however, it has evolved with the changing needs of the population.  In 1994, the county hospital and the clinic merged to form Stevens Community Medical Center. In 2007, a new Acute Care Floor was built that provided 25 private patient rooms.  Its most recent remodeling project occurred in the emergency room area. That area now has a drive-in garage bay and four private ER rooms.

“We have set the bar high in what we provide for patients. We understand the importance of providing the most comfortable atmosphere we can for all our patients,” said Bowman. “Individual needs come first, and SCMC is constantly evolving to provide the best medical systems available to everyone who needs them.”

“Every individual that seeks healthcare services at our facility is placing great trust in us,” said John Rau, president and CEO of SCMC. “It is our privilege to serve our friends and neighbors,”

Services provided by SCMC include family medicine, internal medicine, cardiac rehabilitation, maternity care, orthopedics, oncology, optometry, dermatology, behavioral medicine services, and physical, occupational and speech therapy. Additionally, the big city convenience is also exemplified by the presence of in-house MRI and CT scanning capabilities, as well as 24-hour emergency care. Visit the SCMC website at for a complete list of services, providers and locations.

Infusion therapy is another medical service provided by SCMC. This is the delivery of liquid medications to the body intravenously. Sometimes the patient needs to receive their antibiotic or other medication via this route due to the severity of their illness. The infusion therapy department also provides care to many cancer patients.

“Cancer patients are able to receive chemotherapy close to home, and this is so important for patients and their families,” said Bowman.

Another beneficial addition for meeting the needs of the sprawling community is the SCMC Courage Cottage, a five-bedroom residence that is licensed as an adult foster care home. The Courage Cottage provides end-of-life care and short-term rehabilitation care.  With the assistance of hospice services provided by an agency chosen by the resident, end-of-life care is provided in a home-like setting, and the needs of the resident and their family are met by qualified staff 24 hours a day.

“We want to make what can be a stressful situation as comfortable as possible while educating the patient and their families about their medical condition and treatment options,” said Bowman.

Short-term rehab care is defined as a resident who is recovering from illness or surgery and has the goal of going back home to independent living. The Courage Cottage provides the support needed to get patients back on their feet and back home again.

The big city feel is also evident by the operating room services. SCMC offers general surgical services,  gynecological surgeries, cataract surgeries, orthopedic surgeries (including total hip and total knee surgeries) and most recently, it has added a podiatric surgeon to its team.

The list of services provided by SCMC continues to expand, and the patients’ choice of providers has also grown over the years.

“And we are proud to say that SCMC continues to grow as we add a home-grown girl to our group of providers,” said Bowman. “Dr. Elizabeth Meichsner, a family practitioner and home town girl, will join our team in December.”

The physicians, providers, staff and patients at SCMC are assisted by a faithful network of volunteers, who give their time and talents to the hospital and clinic every day.

“Community engagement is important to SCMC,” said Joan Spaeth, community outreach coordinator. “We are starting a new, junior volunteer program which will allow students an opportunity to build confidence and explore career options. The auxiliary is also working towards providing scholarships to local students pursuing a health care career.” Volunteers range in age and each offer something special.

“Senior citizens, University of Minnesota Morris students and local high school students are a wonderful asset to the volunteer services we are able to provide,” said Spaeth.

The SCMC Auxiliary is composed of volunteers, and the auxiliary takes care of the gift shop in addition to providing SCMC and their patients with assistance where and when it is needed. The proceeds from the gift shop are used to benefit all SCMC patients.

Anyone interested in volunteering at SCMC is encouraged to contact Spaeth. A list of volunteer opportunities are also listed on the SCMC website.

SCMC is inviting the public to attend a special “Fall Into Health” free community health care event on Tuesday, Oct. 28, from 5-8 p.m. It will be held at the Morris Area Elementary School and will include a free community meal (served from 5-6:30 p.m.), an SCMC provider panel (6:30-7), and a special address offered by sportscaster/author Joe Schmit (7-8).

SCMC is located at 400 East First Street in Morris and can be reached for questions or appointments by calling 320-589-1313.  SCMC also services clinics in New London and Starbuck. Visit the website for a complete listing of providers, services, locations, volunteering and auxiliary opportunities:

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