Dean History: 1920s- Dean - WI

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Dean Medical Group's History

A Tour Through The Decades

  • Dr. Joe Dean is shown here in a photo from the early 1920s.
  • Dr. Joe Dean shows his catch from 1920.
  • A 1929 newspaper article announces the Deans’ purchase of a building on Madison’s Capitol Square for a new clinic.
  • Pictured here is the first Dean Clinic, located at 113 N. Carroll St., Madison.
  • The first Dean Clinic building is shown here, located on Madison’s Capitol Square.
  • Dr. Edwin Schneiders is shown in the Harvard Medical School album of 1921. He led St. Mary’s obstetrical department since the time it first opened in 1926.
  • From an article announcing that several doctors completed their training at St. Mary's; Dr. Joseph Dean (then president of the St. Mary's Hospital Staff) is in the back row, second from the left.

New Location, Partner and Name

Just as the postal service claims that “neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor hail” will deter mail delivery, so Dr. Joseph Dean refused to let the elements stand in the way of his patients’ needs on at least one stormy day in December 1927.

Dr. Joe set out by car on an emergency call for an accident victim in Portage. When snow drifts made the roads impassable, he chartered a private airplane for the 18-minute flight. The commitment to patients demonstrated by Dr. Joe on that December 9 serves as a reminder well into the 21st century for Dean Clinic staff, who now serve in more than 60 clinic locations and practice many branches of medicine.   

An office on the Square

In September 1921, Dr. Joe and his brother-in-law, Frank Karstens, purchased the property at 22-24 North Carroll Street on the Capitol Square. Several months later, Frank opened the F.W. Karstens Men’s Clothing Store on the main floor, and Drs. Joe and Jim moved their offices to the second floor of the Karstens-Dean Building.

Dr. George Robbins, a general practitioner, joined the Deans in their practice in 1924. Like Dr. Joe, he had attended Rush Medical College, and like Dr. Jim, Dr. Robbins had served in the Army Medical Corp’s Red Arrow Division during World War I. He remained with the Deans for only two years before going into private practice with his own brother.

The start of something big

Dr. Edwin Schneiders, an obstetrician and gynecologist, also joined the Deans’ practice in 1924. The collaboration between the Deans and Dr. Schneiders inaugurated the development of a multispecialty clinic long before this was common. 

Drs. Schneiders and Robbins, along with Joseph and James Dean, all received appointments as lecturers at the University of Wisconsin in 1924, beginning collaborations between the university and Dean staff which continued to grow into the next century. All four physicians also were on the staff at St. Mary’s Hospital. 

Importance of teamwork

In 1926, St. Mary’s School of Nursing graduated its first class. Dr. Joe, the chief of staff at St. Mary’s, wrote an essay for the school yearbook: “The Value of the Trained Nurse to the Community.” In his description of the critical role nurses play in surgery, he specifically noted their important contribution to patient care by sterilizing medical instruments, commenting “how nurses have met, are meeting and will continue to meet a responsibility of inestimable value.” His appreciation for the “inestimable value” of nurses and recognition of the importance of teamwork to provide the most successful health care outcomes helped shape a collaborative sensibility among Dean staff that has grown and that continues today.

A name for the ages

In June 1929, Drs. Joseph and James Dean and Ed Schneiders formed the Dean Corporation. The new corporation purchased the Alford Laundry property at 113 North Carroll Street, just off the Square, for a price of $125,000. The main building was remodeled into medical offices and the name “Dean Clinic” was used for the first time. The clinic remained at this location until it moved into new facilities on Fish Hatchery Road in 1961.

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