Olmsted Medical Center's History

In 1947 a group of community leaders had a vision of a community hospital which would attract non-Mayo clinicians to practice in Rochester. In 1949, attracted by that vision, a young Dr. Harold (Hal) Wente envisioned life as a solo general practitioner in his wife's home town. No one dreamed of what those visions would eventually become.

OMC's Founding Caregiver, Harold (Hal) Wente, MD

OMC's Founding
Caregiver, Harold (Hal)
Wente, MD

The first 50 years of the Olmsted Medical Center is an amazing success story. In 1959, Medical Economics published a story, "Family Practice in the Shadow of the Mayo Clinic," about the success of the small but thriving Olmsted Medical Group, as OMC was then known. But, that was nothing compared to the next 40 years. How could one general practitioner and the dreams of a small hospital achieve this dramatic success in competition with a leading brand name in medicine? There are several factors:

Vision: A clear view of the future.

Dr. Wente thought outside the box before that was an expression. He saw that a small hospital staffed only with general practitioners wouldn't succeed and that multi-specialty group practice was the model of the future. His group was ahead of its time with its own building, professional management, computerization, and rural branch clinics. Olmsted Medical Group continued to be progressive after Dr. Wente’s time with its expansion and conversion to a not-for-profit corporation. The boards of the medical group and the community hospital, assisted by employee work-groups from both organizations, saw the advantages of merging to combine the visions of both.

Energy: The dreamers didn't just dream …

... they made things happen. The Rochester community approved building a community hospital in a referendum, and it was constructed in 1955. With an innovative financing plan by Olmsted County, it expanded and was renovated in 1986. Dr. Wente was as full of energy as he was ideas and made things happen as the medical group developed. As the building grew, so did the energy of all of our staff members.

Product: Convenience, caring, and lower cost.

These are what patients continue to tell us they need and want. The measure of our success is our ability is to meet those expectations.

People: Putting the CARE in healthcare.

Those who are open to new ideas and repeatedly reach out to help others in ways, large and small. Often it’s the little things … the little considerations, the little courtesies … that are the most important to colleagues as well as customers.

If you'd like to learn more about OMC's history, please call or visit the OMC Hospital Gift Shop ("The Gift Box"), where you'll find for sale softcover copies of the book Shadows: A History of the Olmsted Medical Center. Published in 2010 and written by past OMC president and surgeon G. Richard Geier Jr., MD, the book looks back at more than 60 years of OMC's history.