Divine Savior History
In 1916, the people of Portage asked the Sisters of the Divine Savior at Columbus, Wisconsin to start a hospital. The city guaranteed they would donate $10,000 towards the construction if the Sisters would match the contribution. Former mayor Alois Zienert donated land located on Prospect Hill. Construction began in October 1916 and the hospital was dedicated on May 17, 1917, as St. Savior’s Hospital. For the next 82 years, Divine Savior committed itself to providing quality health care for Portage and the surrounding communities.
The original two-story 20-bed facility serviced Baraboo and Beaver Dam (neither had their own hospital at the time) and a 50-mile radius surrounding Portage. Five physicians, six Sisters trained as nurses and a resident chaplain staffed the hospital. Although established as a Catholic hospital, all creeds have always been welcomed.
The Sisters at Divine Savior not only cared for the patients, but also made their own sutures, grew fruits and vegetables and canned them for winter use. Patient needs were foremost on the minds of the Sisters, and with resources allotted to the patients, often the Sisters’ diets approached "fasting level." However, this never stopped their mission of caring for the people of the Portage area.
Although built as one of the State’s most fully-equipped hospitals (according to newspaper clippings from the time), a new addition was built in 1921 to meet the demand. At that time, the East wing was added.
In 1922, Mr. & Mrs. Alois Zienert passed away and donated their home for long term care. The Sisters began caring for ten residents in the home on the corner of Armstrong and Pleasant Streets.
In 1923, a new chapel was added to the hospital, and in 1928 another addition commenced.
In 1930, only 13 years after the hospital opened its doors, the staff had nearly doubled, and a chief of staff was elected. In 1939, the staff consisted of more than 25 physicians with staff privileges. Due to its size and continual growth, the hospital applied to the American College of Surgeons (ACS) for certification. Probationary approval status was granted.
In 1950, the ACS began their final inspection of St. Savior's Hospital, and in 1953, final and full accreditation was granted.
In the early 1950s, the name changed from St. Savior’s to Divine Savior Hospital and Nursing Home. In 1954 another addition was begun, adding a new surgery room and a separate recovery room staffed full time by nurses and a registered anesthetist.
In 1966, as demand for a home for the aging grew, Divine Savior replaced the old Zienert mansion with a new nursing home. The new home held more than 100 resident beds.
In 1967, the first lay administrator was appointed. The Sisters of the Divine Savior became the sponsors of the hospital - the Sisters and the staff at Divine Savior promised each other to maintain five core values:
promote justice, improve the quality of life, make appropriate decisions to include the poor, collaboration and responsible stewardship. Staff and administration at Divine Savior still hold these values true to their heart.
In the 1980s, another addition was constructed, providing new facilities for the Emergency, Radiology, Outpatient and Laboratory departments.
In the 1990s, two Divine Savior clinics were added to the Divine Savior family - one in Pardeeville and one in Portage. The opening of these clinics ushered in a new era for Divine Savior - Divine Savior employed physicians.
Wanting to ensure that its name encompassed the wide range of services Divine Savior offered, Divine Savior Hospital and Nursing Home changed its name to Divine Savior Healthcare in 1999.
January 10, 2000, Divine Savior Healthcare opened the doors of its Medical Center on the north side of Portage. The Medical Center houses Home Care, Community Health Education, Rehab Services, Occupational Health, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Diagnostics and Orthopedic Surgery.
On May 16, 2002 ground was broken on a new hospital, adjacent to the Medical Center. This hospital will provide all the amenities of a state-of-the-art hospital in a comforting, convenient location.
October 11, 2003 Divine Savior opened its doors to our new state-of-the-art facility, continuing our dedication to the well-being of the residents of Portage and the surrounding communities. Because you deserve the best healthcare possible.