In May 1890, four members of the Hospital Sisters of St. Francis arrived in Sheboygan. Father Strickner, a retired priest, made his home on the corner of Ninth Street and Superior Avenue available to them. This house became the first Hospital. The hospital was named in honor of the patron saint and St. Nicholas pastor of Holy Name Church, Reverend Nicholas Thill, who gave the Sisters counseling, encouragement and help in planning the first Hospital.
It was this small beginning, coupled with the dedication and constancy of the Sisters in the health field, that helped make St. Nicholas the hospital it is today.
On May 16, 1890, just one week after their arrival, the Sisters admitted their first patient to the hospital. He remained there 81 days. The total cost of this stay was $66.50!
During its first five years, the hospital admitted 30 patients and the Sisters made hundreds of visits to patients in their homes. Day and night, they cared for the sick and injured, rich and poor, Catholic and non-Catholic.
The Next Few Years
The hospital made many expansions:
- A laundry and chapel in 1910
- A laboratory and X-ray department in 1916
- The Anna Reiss Home for the Aged in 1918
- A new building in 1924
By 1939, St. Nicholas Hospital and the Anna Reiss Home occupied a full city block.
In the years following, the hospital underwent many renovations and closed the Anna M. Reiss Home due to facilities limitations and increasing demands and regulations.
In 1969 the Sisters first allowed Dad’s to be in the delivery room.
In 1971 St. Nicholas Hospital began a comprehensive review of the hospital and the needs of the community. This ultimately ended with the recommendation “for the construction of a new facility, which would provide all the services then offered, plus other additional services that will become commonplace and standard for any general, acute care facility.”
Groundbreaking for the new facility took place in the spring of 1976 on its present 24-acre site on Sheboygan’s west side. Some wondered who would travel so far for health care. The Sisters were certain that if “we build it, they will come.” And come they did.
Overnight census jumped from 90 to 180 patients per day.
The transfer of patients and colleagues to the new St. Nicholas Hospital occurred in February 1979 in the midst of a blizzard!
Babies made the trip from the old to new hospital in a funeral home “limousine.” Other patients rode in the back of a Sheboygan Press delivery truck. Some traveled more traditionally in ambulances.
Since then the campus has continued to grow.
- Three medical office buildings were built on campus, conveniently locating providers and hospital services in proximity.
- In the early 1990s, Home Health returned to the Hospital. Previously it had been a community service.
- In 2002, ground was broken for a new Emergency Department.
- In 2009, the Sheboygan Surgery Center was added on campus to meet patient preference for outpatient procedures in a less institutional setting.
- In recent years, our relationship with Prevea Health has grown, strengthening our health services even more.