History in the making
Editor's note: This article is the first of a five-part series on Avera Worthington Medical Group history, which has been extensively researched by Avera's Dr. Greg Clark.
WORTHINGTON -- Dr. Greg Clark has been in Worthington for 19 years, but could very well know as much or more about the city than many people who have lived here all of their lives.
Clark, who practices at Avera Worthington Medical Group, has spent considerable time researching the history of the clinic in this community, and his efforts will ultimately pay dividends in a second-floor history wall that will be part of the new Avera facility opening next month on Ryan's Road. His efforts began somewhat innocently enough, as he recalled recently.
"Avera McKennan Hospital was celebrating its 100th anniversary and the sisters were saying, 'It might be good for doctors to get in touch with the medical histories of their local communities," Clark said. "I've learned a lot about the medical history, certainly, but a lot of historical things as well."
The roots of what is now known as Avera Worthington Medical Group date back to 1918. That's when, according to Clark, the new firm of B.O. Mork, MD and F.G. Watson, MD, bought what was called the Humiston Hospital from Mrs. J.B. Jackson for $7,000.
"At the time the building comprised the main portion of the present hospital," Clark said. "Dr. Ray Humiston had leased the building to an osteopath, who together with Dr. C.P. Dolan operated it as a hospital for a short time -- perhaps two years --and then it was again vacant until it was purchased by Mrs. Jackson. She also bought the adjoining residence, and she operated the hospital as a rooming house until it was purchased by Mork and Watson."
The May 9, 1918, issue of the Worthington Globe noted the following: "Drs. B.O. Mork, Watson and Turner have moved into their new hospital building on Main Street. The framework of their new office building on Fifth Ave. is up. Drs. Mork and Watson now have their offices in the hospital opposite the Ford garage."
Also noteworthy, according to Clark, is that the Humiston Hospital "was a grand, two-story, columned, double porch building" that had previously been a Methodist Episcopal Church. Dr. Humiston "had bought this and moved it to his property between Fifth and Sixth avenues. It was remodeled and completed into his hospital in 1909."
Meanwhile, around that time, Dr. Mork was in Worthington, arriving in 1908 after previously practicing in Hills. A document titled "Report to Dr. B.O. Mork Jr. and the Members of the Worthington Clinic" -- prepared by the senior Dr. Mork -- recounts the formation of the new medical partnership.
"During my early years in Worthington it often occurred to me that an association of M.D.'s would be desirable," Dr. Mork wrote. "At that time, there were no such organizations known to me, aside from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.
"This thought may have occurred to me because I so frequently felt the need of talking my cases over with other men," Dr. Mork added. "Another thing that brought this idea back to me was that when making long trips with horse and buggy over muddy roads, I would frequently meet one of my neighboring physicians, either going to a case or coming from one, in the very neighborhood where my case was located. In many instances one man could have taken care of both cases."
Dr. Mork also noted in his document that there were some initial doubts about the location of the new medical offices after they opened in April 1918.
"I was very much worried that we were too far away from the business center of the city, but work came to us and we were doing a good practice right from the first," he wrote.
Before long, Mork wrote: "We eventually began to talk over ways and means of forming a clinic."
Coming in part two: The opening of the new office building of the Clinic Hospital, February 1929.
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