Cambridge Medical Center recognizes alumni during annual Harvest Tea

By Elizabeth Sias

Past physicians and staff of Cambridge Medical Center were recognized Thursday, Oct. 13.

One of CMC's founders, Dr. Ray Magnuson, right, talks with Henry Voss, past human resources director. Photos by Elizabeth Sias

The annual Harvest Tea alumni reception was held at Riverwood Village, just south of the medical center, to recognize former staff and physicians for their contributions to Cambridge Medical Center, Memorial Hospital and Professional Medical Associates.

“We have grown tremendously in the last 20 years,” said Dennis Doran, president of Cambridge Medical Center, which was founded in 1956. “What we’re trying to do is respond to the community’s needs, and that’s why it’s so important that you folks keep connected to this medical center. We need to know what the community is thinking—we need to know you need in health care.”

Retirees and former employees gathered to share stories, reminisce about the past and reconnect with friends and coworkers from years past at the reception in their honor.

Among the attendees were founding physicians Dr. Ray Magnuson, Dr. Kermit Ericsson and Dr. Tom Coleman.

Jo Oleson, who was the clinic’s head nurse for 30 years, left, and Buz Berglund, OB/GYN for 39 years.

Magnuson said he and his friend Gerald Larson were interning in Duluth when, in February 1950, Larson happened to visit People’s Cafe in Cambridge and discussed the need of a medical facility in the community. That July, the two physicians opened a small clinic in Cambridge.

Shortly thereafter, they identified the need for a community hospital and initiated a fund drive to build a hospital in Cambridge. In 1956, the 30-bed Memorial Hospital opened, and it continued to grow from there.

“I tell people, ‘we had one patient the first day,’ and they twitter,” Magnuson said. “But the next day we had five patients, and I tell them ‘that’s a 500 percent increase in 24 hours!’”

Magnuson worked at Cambridge Medical Center until 1999. One of his colleagues, Buz Berglund, started in 1957 and worked in OB/GYN for 39 years.

“It was very busy. It was fun, of course, but it was hard,” Berglund said of his first years. “It was a family-like organization and the people were appreciative. It was a very satisfying time.”

The alumni were the first group of people shown a video promoting the expanded emergency room and short stay services project. The Cambridge Medical Center Foundation is running a campaign to raise $1 million to help fund the $10 million project.

The new construction will include 15,000 square feet of new space adjacent to the current ER, and 1,000 square feet of existing space will also be remodeled. The new emergency room is expected to open in November 2012, and will feature 21 all private patient treatment rooms.

“It’s about being able to communicate with patients in a private environment, care for them in a private environment and show the respect that they’re due,” said Connie Bauer, Emergency Room nurse manager. “It’s going to be a phenomenal difference.”

Chris Miller, board chair of CMC Foundation, explained the Foundation’s role and accomplishments, such as receiving a $41,000 grant for patients being treated for breast cancer. Executive Director of CMC Foundation Julie Gotham informed alumni of ways to support CMC and thanked them for attending the reception.

Bauer thanked alumni for the contributions they made in shaping Cambridge Medical Center.

“A good part of the success of Cambridge Medical Center is the foundation and all of you folks laying it,” Bauer said. “Without the rich history we have of patient-centered care, it wouldn’t be the place it is today, so I want to thank you for the great example and the work you did before us.”