The Riegels: 100% Committed
After serving two years on a hospital ship during World War I, Dr. Jake Riegel returned to St. Croix Falls. There, he and his wife, Florence, opened the St. Croix Valley’s first hospital in her family home, the Baker House. Dr. Riegel took care of patients while Florence took care of everything else that had to do with running the hospital. After hospital hours Dr. Jake would make house calls, driving a team of horses around the countryside in all kinds of weather conditions. People got in touch with him by going to the nearest phone, or by hanging a lantern along the road to signal him to stop.
Determined and Creative
As the practice grew, the Baker House was slowly reconfigured into a 25-bed hospital along with the equipment needed to treat patients. Two of Dr. Jake’s sons, Dr. Gordon and Dr. Fred, as well as other doctors, joined Dr. Jake at the Baker House location on Adams Street. By the late ’20s Dr. Jake was making housecalls during the winter months on a homemade “snowmobile” he fashioned from a secondhand Model-T Ford.
Changing and Growing
By the late ’40s, the Baker House could not accommodate the growing number of patients coming from both sides of the St. Croix River for care. Dr. Jake began to campaign for a new hospital. “We simply can’t offer the refinement of facilities needed to practice modern medicine,” said Riegel.
A New Hospital and More
In 1952, a citizen committee organized to raise money to build St. Croix Valley Memorial Hospital. In 1954, the hospital was incorporated and construction began. By June 26th, 1955 the hospital was completed, dedicated and the doors opened for care. That same year, the Baker house and the nearby George Harvey house were razed to make room for a new clinic. In 1956, the hospital began partnering with nearby Hazelden Foundation to provide medical management and detoxification care for people suffering from the diseases of addiction and alcoholism. In 1959, Dr. Lloyd Olson, the hospital’s first full-time general surgeon, began his work. As the only surgeon, he was on-call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Worldwide Attention: Shocking the Heart
On January 14, 1957, Dr. Joe Belshe and Dr. Fred Riegel (Dr. Jake’s son) performed an emergency procedure that had never been attempted before in order to bring heart attack victim Bill Frueling back to life. Dr. Riegel had recently attended a seminar on using electric shock to defibrillate the heart, but the hospital did not have the newly invented defibrillator. With Frueling’s heart dying, the doctors needed to do something drastic. Dr. Belshe had already opened Frueling’s chest and was massaging his heart when Dr. Riegel cut off the end of an extension cord, stripped its insulation to expose the wires, put on rubber gloves and plugged the other end of the cord into an electrical outlet in an effort to shock Frueling’s heart. After two shocks failed to stimulate the heart, Dr. Riegel wrapped the live wires around the base of a hypodermic needle and inserted the needle into the heart muscle. Frueling’s heart returned to its natural rhythm and he was able to go home from the hospital in three weeks. Word traveled quickly and Time magazine published news of the amazing life-saving story within weeks of the procedure.
In 1967, Dr. Jake retired from medicine and took up another cause he was just as passionate about—conserving the countryside he loved. On August 4, 1977, the man so many had relied on to personally care for them and their loved ones passed away leaving a legacy of high-level idealism.
The ’70s were a time of great growth for the hospital. In 1971, a new addition added 20,000 square feet of new space. 1973 saw another addition, making the hospital three floors. In 1975, a chemical dependency treatment center was opened. The center would receive national accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals in 1979. That same year, a Citizen’s Advocacy Committee was formed to provide an open forum for the exchange of ideas and concerns between the hospital and the people it served.
Answering Community Needs
The 1980s saw a big Walk-or-Run-for-Fun event and a Fitness Festival celebration marking 25 years since the hospital moved from the Baker House to the St. Croix Valley Memorial Hospital building. It was part of the hospital’s commitment to preventive care and to being a place where people could learn how to stay well. An energy conservation program was started. The intensive care unit went through an extensive remodeling and construction, and to help the growing number of young people experiencing problems with chemical dependency, a youth counselor program was established in the Chemical Dependency Center.
Merging and Partnering
In 1992, a newly remodeled and expanded obstetrics unit was opened. Partnerships with neighboring medical facilities allowed the hospital to offer services like cardiac catheterization, laparoscopic surgery procedures, mental health, expanded orthopedic services and hospice care to name a few. New clinics began to open. In 1999, the partnership that had grown between the River Valley Medical Center and the St. Croix Valley Memorial Hospital led to the two hospitals merging to form what is now known as St. Croix Regional Medical Center.
Compassion Aided by Technology
In 2002, a new and expanded hospital emergency department opened its doors. The St. Croix Heart Program was established in 2003. Urgent Care was expanded in 2004. Expansions in surgical services, operating rooms and a rooftop helipad took place from 2005–2008.
Building for the Future
The 2010s saw continued expansions in services, new building projects and an added determination to answer the needs of the communities of the St. Croix Valley. It started with the Unity Clinic in 2012, followed by the Lindstrom Clinic in 2013. The Kinisi Institute for Movement, with its new model of musculoskeletal care, opened in 2017. And, the new Webster Health Center opened in 2018.
2019 and Beyond
Jake and Florence Riegel led the way and set the example for the high level of care and commitment that exists today at St. Croix Regional Medical Center. For 100 years, thousands of employees of every kind and hundreds of health care providers have given 100% to help the people of the St. Croix Valley live healthy lives. It’s the kind of dedication we will continue to deliver to you—now and far into the future.
Watch History in the Making
Take a minute to see what giving 100% to help the people of the St. Croix Valley live healthy lives has meant throughout the decades.
You at 100%
Read the latest news and advice about living your life at 100%.
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Life at 100% Events and Activities
Find out what’s happening to help you live life at 100%—or to just have a great time in the St. Croix Valley.
LIFE @ 100% HASHTAG PHOTO CONTEST
A new winner selected every month!
Contest rules: Enter as many times as you want. Your photo should reflect the theme.
#lifeat100percent must be used or we won’t be able to see your entry.
July 14 – August 24
Healthy Living Wellness Challenge
(to be eligible for prizes)
Need some help staying on track this summer? This challenge will help you focus on living wholeheartedly— Body, Mind and Soul! Weekly tasks, accountability prizes awarded weekly and Grand prizes at the end!)
- Point Trackers are available at the Webster Wellness Center or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Pick a new one up each week of the challenge or ask for one to be emailed to you.
- Turn in weekly points by Tuesday of the following week.
- Drop off Point Tracker at Webster Wellness Center or email.
What Is Your Purpose?
Wednesday, July 17
Lunch & Learn
St. Croix Falls Clinic
Clinic Conference Room
Presentation on how to live out your true purpose in life, learning how to make intent bracelets (see myintent.org for more information on intent bracelets)
Starting October 2
Prevent Type 2 Diabetes Program
Webster (WI) Health Center
Conference Room #1
Cost: $50 fee for once a week for three months, every other week for three months or once a month for six months