Southwestern Minnesota Sanatorium, Worthington, Minnesota

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Southwestern Minnesota Sanatorium

Worthington, Minnesota
Nobles County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1917
Year Ended: 1957
Historic Function: Sanatorium

Worthington Nobles County

The Southwestern Minnesota Sanatorium was established pursuant to a legislative act (Laws 1913 c500) that empowered boards of county commissioners to establish and maintain sanatoriums for the care and treatment of persons who were afflicted with tuberculosis. The act also allowed the cooperation of two or more counties in establishing and maintaining such a sanatorium. Any decision to build and maintain a county sanatorium was, however, subject to the advice and approval of the Commission of the Minnesota Sanatorium for Consumptives.

In 1914, the counties of Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, and Rock formed an association to build, maintain, and share the services of the Southwestern Minnesota Sanatorium, which was constructed and opened in 1917 on the south shore of Lake Okabena near Worthington in Nobles County. Early in 1918, the sanatorium was forced to close due to an inadequate water supply; however, it reopened in April 1919. The Southwestern Minnesota Sanatorium Commission, which controlled the facility, was composed of members from all of the counties involved. The Nobles County Board of Commissioners appointed three members, one of whom was a physician, while the other counties’ boards of commissioners appointed another two members.

The sanatorium provided for the care and treatment of patients afflicted with pulmonary tuberculosis and also provided follow-up services for discharged patients through public health nurses in each county. Members of the sanatorium staff administered tuberculin tests and X-rays to adults, and to children through the public school system. In 1948, the counties of Blue Earth and Watonwan joined the original eight counties in the association, and Le Sueur and Redwood counties joined in 1954.

A significant decrease in the number of tuberculosis patients being admitted to the sanatorium necessitated its closing in 1957. Patients still receiving treatment at the sanatorium were transferred to other facilities in the state for tuberculosis care and treatment. The facility sold the sanatorium commission to the Southwestern Minnesota Crippled Children’s Hospital-School, Inc. (Minn. Stat. 376.54). The sanatorium commission was dissolved in October 1957. The counties of Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, and Redwood joined the Riverside Out Patient Clinic in Granite Falls, which administered tuberculosis control programs and provided out-patient diagnostic treatment.


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