Menomonee Falls — What was once an empty farm field in a rural area outside Milwaukee is now so much more to so many people.
It all began thanks to a small group of visionaries who chose to build the local hospital now known as Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Community Memorial Hospital.
And as the community landmark celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Menomonee Falls resident Cheryl Herriges remembers what it all looked like "way back when." Herriges was 10 years old when her parents moved to to a home neighboring what was for years referred to as the hosptial on the hill. Though she was too young to remember what life was like when the complex first opened July 1, 1964, she fondly remembers the birth of all three of her children at that hospital.
"Things changed so much from when I had my first child to when I had my third," she said. "But what didn't change was the level of service from the staff."
That kind of experience is exactly what the staff says they strive to deliver to each and every patient. While the hospital only had 61 beds manned by a total staff of 70 when it first opened, the complex has developed into a full-service medical center for the surrounding area, featuring 202 beds, a medical staff of almost 600 and more than 1,300 total staff members.
"I love the fact that it's a small-town feel with everything a major metropolitan hospital would offer," said Angie Orcholski, RN, who was the nurse who assisted in delivering the 42,770th baby to be born at CMH on Tuesday, July 1. Orcholski has worked in the labor and delivery area of the Birth Center for six years, and said she loves coming to work every day because of the people she gets to help.
"At a lot of larger hospitals there is only the labor and delivery area, so you deliver and send them off; it's not that way here," she said. "We build relationships with our patients throughout their time with us."
In addition to its Birth Center, the hospital specializes in cancer care, heart and vascular care, orthopedics, women's health and advanced surgical procedures.
"Community Memorial Hospital was built because of a sincere and compassionate concern that local residents live healthy lives along with a commitment to provide excellent health care right here in their community," said CMH President Dennis Pollard in a statement. "I grew up in Menomonee Falls and know first-hand the impact Community Memorial Hospital has had on health care in this community."
Watching the growth of the hospital in the village has not only been of interest to those who live and work nearby, but also by those serviced by the medical complex.
"It was a truly unforgettable experience," said Menomonee Falls resident Jessica Sternard, who had her daughter Alexis at CMH just over a year ago, "not just because we broughr the miracle of life into the world that day, but because of the people who helped make it possible."
Hers is an example of the stories the organization is hoping to hear through its "Share Your Story" campaign. As part of the anniversary celebration, hospital staff is encouraging patients, family members, staff members, volunteers and residents alike to log on to www.froedtert.com to share how the community hospital has been special to them.
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