Hospital throws park party: 60th birthday event, health expo, giant exhibit draw big crowd

CHECKING OUT THE MEGA BODY - Ely resident Byron Moren was one of the first visitors to check out the giant inflatable MEGA Body Exhibit at Whiteside Park during the hospital’s 60th birthday celebration.

by Tom Coombe -

Officials at Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital looked back and to the future while celebrating the present.
The hospital’s 60th birthday party at Whiteside Park was a community event, with hundreds turning out last Saturday to tour the giant MEGA Body Exhibit and visit many of the booths set up for a health expo and fair.
It was also a day for new developments, with the announcement that administrator John Fossum would retire (see related story) and that EBCH was bringing on a full time surgeon - Dr. Robert Savereide.
History was a focal point of the celebration, as Fossum opened with a nod to those who established Ely-Bloomenson on the community health scene in 1957.
“It was formed out of a community effort,” said Fossum. “It was a visionary effort at the time of creation. It was ‘how can we move health care forward in our community?’”
The answer was a hospital that has grown and evolved in its six decades on Ely’s western edge.
Fossum said that community involvement has been at the cornerstone of Ely-Bloomenson’s success through the decades, from residents who have purchased $100 shares to community leaders who have served on the hospital board, as well as the generosity of many.
“It was not just Abe Bloomenson,” said Fossum, noting the contribution made by the hospital pioneer that led to the facility’s development.
Fossum also challenged Ely area residents to continue their vigilance and support for the hospital.
“It’s going to take a community effort to keep things going in the right direction,” said Fossum.
Over the last decade, the hospital has made many changes, from a modernization of its campus to moves that shed both the nursing home and ambulance service from the hospital’s corporate umbrella.
“We believe by separating functions we’ve put the community in the best position for changes that will certainly come,” said Fossum.
Sue Edgington, who leads the hospital’s board of directors, hailed Ely-Bloomenson’s position as a critical access hospital.
“We’re remote, rural, but we’ve been very lucky to attract some very good doctors,” said Edgington.
That will continue, according to head of nursing Becky Gaulke, with the arrival of Savereide, who will allow EBCH to boost revenue and keep more health care business in town by providing surgeries.
The result, Gaulke said, is that EBCH “will be able to handle a variety of surgical procedures, right here at home.”
The Ely hospital handles over 10,000 patient visits per year, including over 3,000 in the emergency room.
Mayor Chuck Novak and Ely Chamber of Commerce representative Dave Sebesta also spoke before a ceremonial ribbon cutting.
Sebesta called the hospital “an integral part of its community and vital to this area.”
In addition to the health expo, which featured numerous health-related businesses and services, the MEGA Body Exhibit served as a big attraction. The inflatable exhibit had features about the brain, stomach, esophagus, kidneys, heart, teeth, blood, bones, lungs and other body functions.
For part of the day, the Lifelink III emergency helicopter was inside the park and open for tours. It landed in the park’s southeastern corner early in the celebration.