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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 established in memory of Dr. John FINLEY through provisions made in the will of his wife, Helen Coriell Finley. Articles of incorporation were filed on February 27, 1890.

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. J. H. Stout and F. A. Rumpf each donated one thousand dollars and led the fund-raising campaign. Of the funds raised, ten thousand dollars were planned for the purchase of seventeen lots surrounding the Finley estate. The remaining money was to be used for remodeling and the purchase of equipment.

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 1891. 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 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. (1) A donation of $25,000 was quickly received from Henry L. STOUT. (2) 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." (3) 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. (4) 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). (5) 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. (6) The total amount of money subscribed locally came to $52,239.36. (7) In 2014 the Slimmer donation plus the local donations ($102,239.36) would be equivalent to just over $408,956. (8)

The trustees took no time in acting. The plan as agreed to with Mr. Slimmer and others who donated money was to used $25,000 for the construction of a new building and to invest the rest to insure the institution of a perpetual income. (9) 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. (10) 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. (11)

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. (12)

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 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.

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-four nurses-graduated in 1900. (13) 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.

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 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 dollar 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. A three million dollar, 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 centers in 2006. In 2008 the hospital began construction of a west wing addition which would result in all-private rooms.

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. (14)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. (15)



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

2. Ibid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

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

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

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

"175 Years" Vol. II Telegraph Herald, p. 93