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FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE)

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Finley residence. Photo courtesy:Kara Murphy and the Finley Health Foundation
The Finley Hospital was named for one of Dubuque's most respected physicians, Dr. John Finley.
FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) A major locally owned health care provider, Finley Hospital was a dream of Dr. John FINLEY but nothing had been started on the project at the time of his death. (1) By his will, Dr. Finley left a life estate for his wife and then gave his property worth an estimated $80,000 towards the founding of a hospital. The facility was to be conducted by Dubuque physicians. (2) Articles of incorporation were written on February 21, 1890. (3)

A meeting chaired by Edward LANGWORTHY was held on June 11, 1885, to discuss the founding of a hospital under the guidelines of the will of Mrs. Finley. An additional gift of $100,000 had been received from the estate of Dr. Lull to assist in the project. To raise the money for the anticipated cost, the Finley home and estate, which had been constructed for $30,000, were put up for sale.

When it was discovered the Finley homestead could be purchased, it was decided to buy the land and convert the home into a temporary forty-bed hospital. A committee including George BURDEN was organized to raise funds. James Huff STOUT and F. A. Rumpf each donated one thousand dollars and led the fund-raising campaign. (3) Of the funds raised, ten thousand dollars were planned for the purchase of seventeen lots surrounding the Finley estate. The remaining $5,000 was to be used for remodeling and the purchase of equipment.

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The purchase was completed on May 1, 1890, with the property passing into the control of the Finley Hospital Company. The first hospital board of directors included twenty men and fourteen women. All served life-long terms of office. William Harrison DAY, Sr. served as president of the Finley Hospital Board of Trustees.

The first patients arrived in April 1890. (4) Unlike other hospitals of the time, Finley sent the aged, insane or chronically ill to other area hospitals. Although the mansion was large enough to accommodate forty patients, conditions were far from the best. Surgeries had to be done in a glass-walled cupola, the only place offering sufficient light.

Photo: Dubuque Herald, February 6, 1897




In 1896 Mr. Abraham SLIMMER from Waverly, Iowa, visited The Finley Hospital and immediately offered to the trustees a donation of $50,000 provided an equal amount was raised in Dubuque. The trustees met and then signed a contract with Slimmer that stated the $50,000 locally had to be collected by March 1, 1897. (5) A donation of $25,000 was quickly received from Henry L. STOUT. (6) A committee appointed to raise the additional funds, however, abandoned their efforts "because the people who could well afford to make up the comparatively small sum required do not respond as promptly as it was hoped." (7)

This situation led to nearly daily articles in the Dubuque Herald pointing to the need for local funds. By February, 1897 the number of donors had begun to grow. (8) Daily lists of contributors included Dubuque physicians ($1,225.00), barbers ($83.25), DUBUQUE MALTING COMPANY ($100.00), Peter KIENE, Sr. ($200.00), public school teachers ($70.00). (9) The deadline approached, however, with the fund drive still short the day before the offer was to be withdrawn. At the last minute, Dubuque residents contributed more than was necessary. On the last day, subscriptions of $2,502.36 were received. (10) The total amount of money subscribed locally came to $52,239.36. (11) In 2014 the Slimmer donation plus the local donations ($102,239.36) would be equivalent to just over $408,956. (12)

The trustees took no time in acting. The plan as agreed to with Mr. Slimmer and others who donated money was to use $25,000 for the construction of a new building and to invest the rest to insure the institution of a perpetual income. (13) There was some brief consideration for choosing a new site, but this was quickly rejected. When the new structure was completed, the old building was to be used as a home for the nurses. (14) Since the new hospital would be much larger, a training school for nurses was considered. This would provide less expensive nursing staff and a means by which young women could enter a profitable profession. (15)

A committee was appointed to arrange the building preliminaries including advertising for plans and estimates. The members included F. A. Rumpf, chairman and William L. BRADLEY, Sr., John Vincent RIDER, T. W. Ruete, and Peter KIENE. (16)

In 1898 the Pavilion addition was constructed with funds raised through the sale of real estate left to the hospital through the Finley bequest. The hospital was opened for public inspection on June 25, 1898. "Opening Day" activities were managed by the Dorothea Dix Circle--some of whom came dressed as street car conductors. People who rode the 8th Street line during the afternoon or evening paid their fare to these ladies who "were in charge of cars and ran things to suit themselves." Sometimes change for a fare was returned to the rider--and sometimes not. Funds raised in this way purchased the couch used by the poor visiting the hospital. (17)

Opened for public inspection on September 24, 1898, a throng estimated at six thousand toured the premises which allowed the hospital to accommodate seventy patients. (18) The addition boasted several innovative ideas. The hospital had Dubuque's first patient transfer system using elevators. To reduce infection, the use of wood was limited and steam heat (believed cleaner) was used. The kitchen was placed on the third floor so that cooking odors would not be spread through the rooms.

Generosity played a significant role in reducing costs. Rooms were furnished by the Dorothea Dix Society and Mrs. A. W. Daugherty. Perhaps the single greatest gift came from Mrs. Fred O'Donnell who furnished a room, the entire electric lighting plant, all the furnishings of the operating room, the furnishings for both the large wards on the first floor, and many other articles. (19)

A nurses' training program was founded in 1898. The nearest similar program at that time was in Chicago. Applicants were required to be graduates of high school and demonstrate the stamina needed for the work. For three months, students were given regular instruction and lectures by the faculty. Two years were then spent in hospital work. The first class of four nurses graduated in 1900. (20) The quality of the program led within two years to a graduating class of twenty. The original hospital building became the nurses' home when the new hospital opened.

In April 1898 a new ambulance was presented to the hospital by Henry L. Stout. It featured curtained plate glass windows on each side ornamented with "Red Cross' over which were ventilators. Inside was a stretcher-cot, held by straps and suspended by springs. Beside the stretcher were three folding seats for physicians and nurses. The ambulance was heated. The ambulance rode on rubber wheels with ball bearings. While "having the appearance of a heavy vehicle it could easily be drawn by a single horse." The name "Finley Hospital" appeared on each side.

The ambulance was stored at BYRNE BROTHERS at 9th and Iowa and could be called for at any time. Byrne Brothers agreed to furnish a driver and team at about the usual livery cost. The article in the Evening-Globe Journal suggested that the city council should establish the right-of-way for the ambulance as had been done in other cities. (21)

It became almost immediately obvious that additional hosspital space would be needed. In July 1910 the hospital board had already taken under consideration a building program although no time schedule or amount of funding needed was discussed. It was disclosed that any new construction would occur on the grounds of the present institution and that the new building would be as large or larger than the present facilities. (22)

On May 25, 1910 the public was admitted to some of Dubuque's hospitals as part of National Hospital Day activities. (23) Visitors to Finley were able to see the new Lull Memorial Home for nurses located southeast of the hospital and fronting on Alpine. (24)

Demolition of the old hospital. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Hospital construction. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Finley was one of only thirteen accredited Iowa hospitals with one hundred beds or more in the 1920s.

A great deal of charity work was undertaken by the hospital. In 1920 the cost of the free service to charity patients totaled $17,020.50. This was offset $4,168.46 by the Slimmer charity fund, but the net was a loss to the hospital of $12,852.64. (25) This figure did not include the loss on accounts of patients who were unable to pay and who failed to declare themselves as charity patients. The Slimmer fund did not allow the hospital to collect anything unless the patient stated they were a charity case. In such cases, doctors had to agree to offer their service free of charge. (26)

The role of the Women's Auxiliary to the hospital was crucial. For many years, the Auxiliary hosted an annual "fruit shower" at which thousands of glasses of fruit and jelly were presented to the patients of the hospital. The Auxiliary's financial support made possible much the hospital's charity work as well as needed repairs and improvements to the building. (27)

The medical community in Dubuque anticipated the arrival of Dr. F. P. McNamara in 1921. A former assistant instructor at the Brady Memorial Laboratory of Bacteriology and Pathology at Yale University and assistant resident pathologist of the New Haven Hospital, Dr. McNamara was hired to be in charge of the Pathological Laboratory at The Finley Hospital. Prior to Dr. McNamara's arrival, it had been necessary to send tissue and other specimens to other cities for examination. This caused delay in the diagnosis of disease and led physicians to take their patients out of Dubuque for treatment. The Dubuque County Medical Society announced frequent clinics to promote a better understanding between physicians and pathologists. (28)

In 1925 the SUNSHINE CIRCLE of Finley Hospital held its second Better Baby Health Conference. Parents or relatives of children who were born in Finley were entitled to enter them in this conference. With two hundred and thirty-four children possible entrants, no child younger than one year or older than four years on May 16, 1924 was admitted. The conference was held according to the instructions in Pamphlet No. 5 prepared by the Committee on Women and Children's Welfare, Council of Health and Public Instruction of the American Medical Society. Nine doctors were to be in attendance from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. to examine the children. Members of the Circle aided in caring for the children and helping the examiners. (29)

A 1950 expansion of the hospital increased the bed capacity by twenty-nine and added four operating rooms, maternity floor and nursery, and lobby. Eleven years later Finley installed a cobalt therapy unit for cancer treatments. Groundbreaking ceremonies on August 19, 1971, began a $2.875 million expansion. On October 20, 1973, the addition was formally opened with Governor Robert Ray as the featured speaker.

In 1987 Finley announced that it would receive one million dollars from the estate of Lester WENDT. The money, believed to be the largest health care gift in Dubuque history, was to be used to establish a regional cancer center. The name Wendt Regional Cancer Center recognized the Wendt family's long history of financial aid to the hospital including a donation of $220,000 in 1981 following Wendt's death. The Wendt Regional Cancer Care Center was formally opened on November 13, 1987. Breaking a tradition of building such a center underground, Dr. Thomas Lally was instrumental in constructing the center above ground despite the need to make walls at least seven feet thick. (30) A $3 million, 10,000 square foot addition to Finley, the Center allowed the hospital to treat up to sixty patients daily, twice the number that could be treated at the old center.

Family Birthing Suites, allowing a woman to experience delivery and recovery in one room, were introduced in 1989.

In 1990 with an estimated six hundred employees, The Finley Hospital had an approximate economic impact of $100 million on the local economy. Salaries and benefits paid to employees were approximately $14 million with an equal amount spent on utilities, insurance, and food supplies. The Finley Hospital also provided students of area colleges and technical schools with a valuable training environment as part of their degree programs.

Festivities associated with the centennial celebration of The Finley Hospital were co-chaired by Margaret Hendry and William G. KRUSE.

In 1994 the hospital expanded again with the construction of the intensive-care unit, Babka Outpatient Surgery Wing, and a new entrance. The Delhi Medical Center was completed in 2002 and the Kehl Diabetes Center in 2006. In 2008 the hospital began construction of a west wing addition which resulted in all-private rooms. On October 31, 1994 the hospital installed a state-of-the-art General Electric Spiral CT Scanner--the first in the city. (31)

Efforts to unionize the seven hundred workers at The Finley Hospital began in March, 1995. The National Labor Relations Board divided hospital employees into different bargaining units including Registered nurses, all other professionals, technical, service, general maintenance, skilled maintenance, receptionists (non-clerical), and medical records/clerical. Doctors were also eligible, but no requests had been made from this group. (32)

In 1996 Heartland AirMed, a service of Heartland Regional Paramedic Services, announced it would be able to transport patients in and out of Dubuque at the start of the new year. Three nurses from The Finley Hospital completed training to accompany these patients.(33) On December 6, 1996 the Finley/Mercy Diabetes Center opened at 3505 Stoneman Road. The Center would provide comprehensive diabetes education including classes, self-glucose monitoring, family counseling and exercise opportunities. (34)

Recognizing that minor health concerns do not always occur during regular doctor's office hours, in July 1997, The Finley Hospital announced the opening of an after-hours medical care clinic. Called "Convenient Care," the clinic was open from 5:00-11:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Patients needing more attention could be transferred to Finley emergency/trauma department. The hospital's pharmacy would also be open to provide service. (35)

In 1997 after six months of study and negotiation, The Finley Hospital announced it would become a partner in Iowa Health System. The affiliation offered the hospital statewide medical expertise and economic advantages from being able to obtain price breaks on purchases. Iowa Health System was the largest affiliation of independently owned hospitals in Iowa. (36) The agreement, signed August 7, 1997, stated that Finley Tri-State Health Group, Inc. would continue to own the 158-bed hospital. (37) The Finley Hospital offered a new pain management and intervention program in December, 1997 with Dr. Thomas D. Hanson of Anesthesia and Analgesia P.C. Davenport at Finley's Babka Outpatient Care Center. The same month, Finley was designated a Level II hospital by the Iowa Department of Public Health for its family birthing suites. Level II hospitals have the equipment and staff to manage some high-risk pregnancies, care for pre-term newborns and care for mildly ill newborns. (38)

The Wendt Regional Cancer Center was ten years old in 1997. One of the biggest changes was the renovation of a treatment room to house a new $2 million, high-energy accelerator which was compatible with modern computer software. The Center continued to participate in clinical trials of the Radiation Therapy Group, an affiliate of the Mayo Clinic. The Center continued to serve patients within a sixty-mile radius of Dubuque. (39)

In 2010 The Finley Hospital for the second time was named to the '100 Top Hospitals' list by Thomson Reuters. Finley was the only tri-state-area hospital included on the list. The list was compiled by comparing hospitals of like-size across the country based on results for complications, patient safety, quality related to heart failure, pneumonia and other areas, cost per case adjusted for the severity of the cases and other measures.

In May, 2012 Finley's bid to establish a cardiac catheterization laboratory was unanimously approved by the State Health Facilities Council. (40) The laboratory would enable the hospital to provide diagnostic and minimally invasive procedures to address cardiovascular disease.

A 1949 bill for the hospital charges related to the birth of a child.

The Finley Hospital purchased the Siegert-Casper Colonial Funeral Home property at 390 N. Grandview for $2.2 million in February, 2008. The building along with the the Finley Grandview Outpatient Rehab Services at 444 North Grandview were slated for demolition to construct a two-story, 70,000-square foot addition that would replace the existing emergency and surgical departments. The addition would also incorporate the hospital's heart center. (41)

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Source:

1. "Open House at Finley Hospital Today," Telegraph Herald, May 15, 1921, p. 15

2. "Finley Hospital," Dubuque Herald, February 22, 1890 (no page numbers)

3. "Open House at Finley..." p. 18

4. Ibid.

5. "Slimmer Donation," Dubuque Herald, January 17, 1897, p. 4

6. Ibid.

7. "Finley Hospital," Dubuque Herald, January 26, 1897, p. 4

8. "The Finley Boom," Dubuque Herald, February 5, 1897, p. 8

9. "Slimmer is Ready," Dubuque Herald, February 21, 1897, p. 8

10. "Finley's Fortune," Dubuque Herald, February 28, 1897, p. 5

11. "Triumph for Finley," Dubuque Herald, March 10, 1897, p. 8

12. "Historical Value of U. S. Dollar," Online: http://mykindred.com/cloud/TX/Documents/dollar/

13. "Disposition of the Fund," Dubuque Herald, March 10, 1897, p. 8

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. "Finley Opened," Evening Globe-Journal, June 25, 1898, p. 7

18. "The New Finley Hospital," Telegraph Herald, September 25, 1898, p. 8

19. Ibid.

20. "John W. Finley," Linwood Legacies, Online:http://www.linwoodlegacies.org/john-w-finley.html

21. "Has Arrived," Evening Globe-Journal, April 21, 1898, p. 12

22. "Finley Hospital to Build Addition," Telegraph Herald, July 22, 1910, p. 7

23. "Pubic Admitted to Some Dubuque Hospitals Today," Telegraph Herald, Part II, May 25, 1910, p. 1

24. "Nurses' Home to Be Opened Today," Telegraph Herald, Part II,, May 25, 1910, p. 9

25. "Open House at Finley Hospital Today,"

26. Ibid.

27. Ibid.

28. "Dr. McNamara Begins Duties as Pathologist," Times-Journal, July 10, 1921, p. 13

29. "Annual Baby Show at Finley Soon," Telegraph Herald, Part II, May 10, 1925, p.7

30. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Wendt Center Adds to Its Vision of Healing," Telegraph Herald, December 22, 1997, p. 3A

31. "Finley First with CT Scanner," Telegraph Herald Letters to the Editor, February 15, 1995, p. 4A

32. Bergstrom, Kathy. "Unionizing Work Starts at Finley," Telegraph Herald, March 25, 1995, p. 1A

33. "Heartland to Use Planes for Patient Transfers," Telegraph Herald, December 21, 1996, p. 3A

34. Gwiasda, Susan B. "New Center Helps Combat Diabetes," Telegraph Herald, November 21, 1996, p. 3A

35. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Finley Hospital Opens After-Hours Medical-Care Clinic," Telegraph Herald, July 21, 1997, p. 3A

36. "Bragg, Mary Rae. "Finley Joins Iowa Alliance," Telegraph Herald, May 28, 1997, p. 1A

37. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Finley Hospital Board Signs Agreement with Iowa Health System," Telegraph Herald, August 8, 1997, p. 3A

38. "Finley Family Birthing Suites Designated Level II," Telegraph Herald, December 22, 1997, p. 3A

39. Gwiasda, Susan B. "Wendt Center..."

40. Mandel, Eric. "Finley Cath Lab Approved," Telegraph Herald, May 24, 2012, p. 1

41. Hogstrom, Erik. "Plan in Action: Finley Buys Funeral Home," Telegraph Herald, February 8, 2013, p. 5A