Burnett Medical Center History

Hospital History Grantsburg Hospital 1930

The first hospital in Grantsburg opened on November 19, 1930 - one year after the organization was founded. The cost: $25,700. Forty-seven local residents purchased initial shares in the corporation, and more shares were sold as time went on. Two physicians and one surgeon were on the medical staff.

Throughout the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s the hospital had its ups and downs. In 1953 the loss of practicing physicians in Grantsburg put the hospital on a month-to-month operational basis with the definite possibility of closing. The hospital limped along until another doctor was found to meet area health care needs.

In 1956, stockholders resolved to launch Grantsburg Hospital Inc., a new not-for-profit corporation, to secure the benefits of a not-for-profit hospital for all area residents. Hopes of remodeling the old Community Hospital structure turned toward building a new 31-bed facility on St. George Avenue. Citizens throughout the surrounding area in Wisconsin and Minnesota banded together to raise a full quarter of the total construction cost.

New Healthcare Facility New Healthcare Facility

On an early June day in 1961, the new healthcare facility on St. George Avenue in Grantsburg opened, and the hospital grew. In 1970 a 53-bed extended care facility was added to meet the growing needs of an aging population. In 1985 an expanded emergency room, exam rooms, ambulance garage, and supply area were added as well.

For many years in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s the area was under-served with too few practicing physicians. Residents increasingly looked elsewhere for their health care. In the years between 1988 and 1993, Burnett General Hospital's economic size dropped. In 1990 Burnett General faced a financial loss of $390,942.

A New Era BMC 1995

Determined that the hospital would survive, a forward-looking board of directors turned to Brim Healthcare to manage the hospital. Through Brim, the medical center drew national strength while keeping local control and its focus on the special needs of the people it serves. Operating margins began to improve. A new era had begun.

By 1995 the hospital had evolved from an inpatient care facility to a modern health-care provider of inpatient and outpatient services. Reflecting the hospital's growth, the hospital became Burnett Medical Center.

Time for Additional Growth

Now that Burnett Medical Center was headed in the right direction, a determination was made to provide a more appealing environment to the people served and at the same time organize services offered. To meet these objectives, in 1996 and 1997 Burnett Medical Center underwent a complete internal makeover. Many departments were moved and/or redesigned to provide more efficient work areas. Departments that worked closely together were realigned to be in close proximity to each other. A 10,000 square foot wing was added to the east end of the hospital to accommodate a new operating room and procedure room, a larger recovery area, an expanded Radiology department with a CT scan room, a storeroom to house needed supplies, and a loading dock. Existing spaces within the hospital and extended care facility were redecorated to make them more appealing and inviting to patients, residents, and visitors. The building renovation was completed in late 1997 and was a welcome addition to the now thriving hospital and extended care facility. The extended care facility has subsequently been renamed the Continuing Care Center and on March 1, 2010, BMC revised the Continuing Care Center license from 53 beds to 50 beds (23 double occupancy semi-private rooms and 4 private rooms).

A Desire to Purchase the Local Clinic

Burnett Medical Center had always worked closely with its next-door neighbor, the Grantsburg family practice clinic. The clinic, owned by Allina, needed immediate attention if it was going to prosper and remain open. After repeated requests by Burnett Medical Center to purchase the clinic, Allina, in 2001, finally agreed to sell. In November 2001, clinic physical assets were purchased from Allina and the Burnett Medical Center Clinic was born. With increased effort by Brim management, the Clinic was reestablished as a viable enterprise and is running strong and smoothly today with adequate medical personnel who provide a wide range of services to the entire Burnett Medical Center complex.

BMC Expansion Project BMC Facility 2007

In the spring of 2004, Burnett Medical Center's board of directors finalized a strategic plan that included the development of a Master Facility Plan. The impetus for the plan was to improve the patient access points: primary care clinic, specialty clinics, and emergency department, as well as to expand the facility in order to accommodate the ever-increasing patient care space needs of their medical staff and visiting specialists. It was also the intent to fully integrate all healthcare services offered into the main hospital, for the convenience of their patients.

In July of 2004, Burnett Medical Center's board hired the architectural firm of BWBR to assist them in developing BMC's expansion plan. Initially they were asked to assemble a plan that did not include a parcel of BMC's land that was utilized by Grantsburg Village Golf Course. After reviewing that option, the board recognized that in order to remain at its current location, BMC would need to be able to utilize all of its available property.

The plan approved by Burnett Medical Center's board of directors at their November 2005 meeting allowed for southward expansion of the current facility while maintaining flexibility for future growth. Additionally, a new main entrance was decided on, providing access and parking directly off highway 70. While revisions to the golf course that surrounds BMC on three sides was necessary, working with the Village of Grantsburg ensured that the completion of the building project would continue to allow for a nine-hole golf course.

Expansion Project Progress

Burnett Medical Center has taken on a new shape since its groundbreaking ceremony in April 2007 that began PHASE I of it's building expansion project. The new expansion, completed in May 2008, includes a new main entrance, parking and driveway off of highway 70, an emergency department, combined family practice and specialty clinic, centralized registration, health information department, and a portion of the rehabilitation services department. PHASE II which began in May 2008, includes renovating portions of the current facility to include a new business office and hospital pharmacy, expanded hospital lab and rehabilitation services departments, a new Chapel/Grief room, additional office and conference space, and a new dining room. Administrative offices that include Human Resources, Accounting, Administrative Assistant services, and Marketing were renovated as part of PHASE III completed in November 2008. Also completed as part of this phase were new Activities and Social Services offices.


Since completion of the building expansion which greatly enhanced the patient experience here at Burnett Medical Center, we set out to update and upgrade our medical technologies to further serve our patients more efficiently and effectively. Some of the recent technology upgrades include:

Electronic Medical Records
In July of 2009, Burnett Medical Center began a project to implement an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system. An EMR system simply means that patient history and care information is stored in a computer system. There are many reasons why we have undertaken this important project. The foremost reason is to improve the quality of patient care. The EMR allows our providers to access a patient's information regardless of where the patient is seen within the facility. For example, an allergy that was documented during a patient's visit to our clinic will be easily accessible if that same patient presents to our emergency department.

Implementation of the EMR allows us to better track the care provided and ensure that charges are made correctly and in a timely manner. In addition, we are able to streamline the processes in our patient care departments to both control costs and improve the quality of care.

Only those employees who need access to a patient's information are allowed to access it. Ensuring the privacy of our patients is accomplished through the security and tracking features that are a part of the new EMR system, along with the policies and procedures that are already in place.

Also, in 2009, Burnett Medical Center acquired an Omnicell automated medication dispensing system for it's Pharmacy Department. The benefits of an Omnicell System include:

Overall, better quality of care
Faster access to first dose, emergency medications, and new medication orders
Complete tracking of dispensed medications within the facility
Fewer mistakes caused by manual steps and workarounds
Improved patient safety resulting in increased patient satisfaction
Reduced costs for the Pharmacy Department and the facility

The benefits are very clear in having this secure, accurate, and efficient medication management system here at Burnett Medical Center.

Chemistry Analyzer
In early 2013, Burnett Medical Center acquired a new piece of equipment called a Vitros 5600 for the Laboratory Department. The Vitros 5600 is a state of the art, integrated analysis system that combines the workload of many laboratory instruments on to a single platform. This integration provides greater efficiency, productivity, and testing capacity within the facility. The analyzer can perform over 120 different tests, providing Burnett Medical Center physicians more diagnostic information in less time.

Digital Imaging
The addition of digital x-ray equipment in the winter of 2013 marked the last step in transforming Burnett Medical Center's Radiology Department into a completely digital department. Now with digital imaging, radiographic images are no longer on film but performed and stored digitally. Digital technology allows instant access to radiology images by the patient care team without duplication or transporting of films. Digital images provide better dynamic range and contrast, improving diagnostic accuracy in less time. The Radiology Department has been renamed Diagnostic Imaging to more accurately reflect the services provided within the department.

The Burnett Medical Center Foundation provided funding to purchase a new system for the anesthesia department at BMC which can be utilized during surgery or an emergency. The system, known as a GlideScope video laryngoscope, is an airway device with a video camera that aids in the placement of breathing tubes in patients with difficult and unpredictable airways. Because seconds count during anesthesia or emergencies, the GlideScope ensures greater patient safety and care.

Burnett Medical Center's ongoing efforts to expand and improve our facilities and services will help us facilitate our mission to provide compassionate, comprehensive, community healthcare that exceeds our customer's expectations.