Dean History: 1960s- Dean - WI

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Dean Medical Group's History

A Tour Through The Decades

  • A rendering of Fish Hatchery Clinic made in 1960 or 1961. The clinic was designed to be 18,000 square feet, doubling the space of the downtown building the organization had occupied since 1929.
  • A newspaper article announces the new Dean Clinic facility on Fish Hatchery Road in Madison.
  • A photo of physician partners at the new Dean Clinic facility on Fish Hatchery Road in Madison.
  • Dean Clinic’s first heart surgeon, Dr. Richard Botham started the St. Mary’s Hospital cardiovascular surgery program in the 1960s.
  • Dean and St. Mary’s physicians established the Guadalupe Migrant Clinic in 1963 to care for field workers. The clinic in Endeavor, Wis., operated from a donated railroad car.

Regional Expansion

Dean Clinic physicians and staff have been leaders in their communities since the days Dr. Joseph Dean worked with other community leaders to convince the Sisters of St. Mary’s from St. Louis to open a much-needed hospital in Madison (which eventually opened in 1912).

During the 1960s, this commitment to provide leadership and assistance to local communities found new avenues of expression. In 1963, Dean pediatrician, Dr. Charles Hopkins, and St. Mary’s executive director, Sister Mary Emeline Hitpas, helped establish the Guadalupe Clinic in Endeavor, Wisconsin to meet the health care needs of migrant workers. The following year, Dr. William Bartlett led the organization of a mass oral polio vaccine program in Dane County over a series of Sundays early in 1964.

Building a referral network

Beginning in the early 1960s, Dean’s community outreach efforts transformed the entire organization when Dr. Richard Botham, Dr. Arthur Sonneland, and Dr. Thomas Geppert decided to aggressively build a referral network for the Dean Clinic outside of Dane County. They began visiting hospitals throughout southern Wisconsin where Dean physicians had previously received referrals.

They attended staff meetings, introduced themselves and asked the local family physicians to send patients to Dean Clinic if their patients had problems the family physicians couldn’t treat themselves. In return, Dean physicians promised these referring physicians that they would take good care of their patients and keep them informed of their progress. They also gave free lectures on topics of interest to the family practice physicians.

When referring physicians responded by sending patients to Dean, trust was built. Their patients were seen as soon as possible by the right specialist. They would be conscientiously informed of their patient’s progress, and, within a few days, they’d receive a phone call or a personal letter on the day of discharge from the attending Dean physician, explaining what had transpired.

Dr. Botham and Dr. Sonneland also increased their accessibility throughout the region by scheduling weekly visits to see patients at some of the small town hospitals. As other Dean physicians began to see an increase in their referral patients, they also went to hospitals outside of Madison for consultations.

Outreach to patients

Dr. Geppert and other Dean pediatricians continued to make house calls throughout the region. Dr. William Bartlett had a particularly memorable set of experiences during a flu epidemic in 1960 when, in addition to making rounds at St. Mary’s Hospital and seeing patients at Dean Clinic, he recalls making fifty-six house calls over the course of a weekend.

This enterprising strategy of “taking care of our referring base” paid major dividends. Dean Clinic was quickly transformed from a local provider to a regional health care powerhouse. The referral system extended to Platteville in the west, Mauston and Richland Center to the north, Watertown to the east and Lake Geneva to the south. Dean specialists would “go on the road” to many of these sites and still do today. After he retired, Dr. Sonneland said that creating this outreach program was one of his proudest achievements.

Expanding specialties and adding staff

The new Dean medical facility on Fish Hatchery Road, which opened in July, 1961, proved too small to meet the increased demand. A new wing was added in 1965, allowing Dean Clinic to offer the specialties of obstetrics, ENT and urology. A second addition was completed in 1968 to accommodate orthopedics, radiology and pediatrics. Dean Clinic’s growth has continued to this day, extending needed health care to a broad range of patients.

By necessity, the staff within Dean Clinic expanded during the 1960s to meet the increased need for more physicians and support personnel. Physicians were hired to diversify the medical services Dean provided, including adding specialists in orthopedics, ophthalmology, otorhinolaryngology (ear, nose and throat) and maxillofacial surgery (upper jawbone and face). Demand necessitated increasing the number of physicians who practiced internal medicine, obstetrics, cardio-vascular and thoracic surgery, radiology and pediatrics. A new cardiac surgery program was inaugurated at St. Mary’s Hospital in 1969 in conjunction with what was being called the Dean Medical Center to reflect the wide variety of medicine practiced there.

Dr. Botham established a selection process for new hires designed to cement Dean’s growth in the community: “We would hire them if medicine was not a means to an end but was an end itself. The money was not a factor. Taking care of people was the factor. And if that was what motivated them, then they were the kind we wanted. We didn’t want anyone else. And it proved to be the basis for which the Dean Clinic was made what it is today.”

A team approach to care

As Dean Clinic grew, the staff solidified a team approach to medicine that had been evolving since Drs. Joseph and James Dean first formed their partnership in 1915. This was particularly evident during the late 1950s and 1960s in pediatrics.

Shortly after Dr. William Bartlett joined Dean in 1957, Drs. Geppert, Hopkins and Bartlett began what became a standard routine for Dean’s pediatricians of making rounds together every weekday. This team approach to pediatric care raised collaboration among Dean physicians to new heights.

Dr. Bartlett explained, “We would meet in the Newborn Nursery, take care of any newborns, or, especially new ones that needed physicals or discharges, and then we’d see the parents together. And I thought that was a key element to keep a group practice functioning as a single unit in keeping the relationship with that family with the three of us instead of just one. We’d see the babies, see the moms, then go to pediatrics. We had three people figuring out any problem we had down in pediatrics, whether it was meningitis or croup or whatever. But it was three minds instead of one.”

This collaborative approach to pediatric care expanded to five physicians making the rounds and discussing patients’ conditions together later in the 1960s, when Dr. Charles Geppert and Dr. Connie Andringa joined the Dean staff.

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