Oaklawn was founded in 1925 as a 12-bed hospital in a residential home, funded by a group of visionary philanthropists. Now, more than eight decades later, we’ve evolved into a highly regarded regional health care organization, licensed for 77 acute care beds and a 17-bed inpatient psychiatric unit. We’ve continued to be an independently owned not-for-profit hospital, with our main campus residing on the same site as the original hospital, providing facilities, equipment and technology that are usually only found at larger health systems. We enjoy a reputation for advancing medicine and providing compassionate, personal care. Our service area includes Calhoun County and parts of Branch and Eaton counties with a medical staff of more than 150 providers representing over 35 specialties.
When Oaklawn Hospital opened, the world was a much different place. Health care was far removed from today’s advancements and technology. When opened in 1925, Oaklawn only had 12 beds. It was housed in a private residential home, not even 5,000 square feet, with the third floor accommodating operating, emergency and maternity rooms, a baby’s bath and a nursery. The building was furnished with draperies, sheets and pillowcases made by area churches.
The village of Marshall, incorporated in 1887, didn’t have its first stoplight until 1926. The hospital opened five years before the Brooks Fountain was dedicated. The village population was somewhere between 4,200 and 5,000.
Over a span of more than eight decades, Oaklawn has grown and evolved along with Marshall and surrounding communities.
The original Oaklawn Hospital building had been a private residence, built in 1837 by Sidney Ketchum, who, with his brother George, founded Marshall in 1831. In 1859, Charles P. Dibble acquired the property and named it “Oaklawn” because of the beautiful white oaks that adorned the grounds. Through his son, William J. Dibble, and later his grandson, Charles L. Dibble, the property was deeded to the Ella E. M. Brown Charitable Circle Association, created as a legacy of Charles P. Brown and named in memory of his wife. It is still the legal name of Oaklawn today.
At the time it was formed, the Charitable Circle comprised a group of women from local churches and was formed after Brown bequeathed his home and $37,000 – a value of about $400,000 today – for the purpose of starting a hospital. This association sparked the hospital movement in Marshall. The old Dibble home, known as The Mansion House, was converted to a hospital and paid for by a fund drive from 1923-25 that raised $45,000.
Oaklawn treated its first patient on July 25, 1925. During the late 1920s and the 1930s, donations to the hospital allowed it to purchase and fund staff and new equipment. Gertrude B. Smith willed the eastern part of the hospital property in 1932.
In 1948, a citizens committee recommended a fund drive to launch a campaign to build a new hospital. The fundraising effort, led by Samuel H. Leggitt and Harold C. Brooks, raised more than $350,000 and the new 47-bed hospital opened in September 1953. The building was expanded in 1962 to 69 beds.
In 1971, Oaklawn Hospital was on the verge of closing. It was on its last provisional license and the Michigan Department of Public Health gave the hospital until August 1972 to develop a master plan to overcome some facility deficiencies. It was determined that $1.5 million was required to overcome those deficiencies. Oaklawn looked to the community to raise $500,000 to help fund the project.
Chaired by Ed Belcher and the late Chet Hemmingsen, the Decision Now Campaign raised nearly $700,000. The hospital was able to proceed with its plans to renovate and expand, and was granted a new license from the state. The 10,000-square-foot project was completed in 1974, adding a lobby, gift shop, another operating room, medical records offices, administrative offices, a pharmacy and increasing beds to 77.
In 1975, Oaklawn celebrated 50 years of service with the opening of the original 12,000-square-foot Wright Medical Building.
In 1980, the Intensive Care Unit opened and physicians began staffing the Emergency Department on weekends.
In 1988, the Wright Medical Building was expanded to 35,000 square feet.
In 1991, a $5 million, 35,000-square-foot hospital addition opened, improving the Emergency Department, Outpatient Surgery, Physical Therapy, Laboratory, Radiology, Medical/Surgical facilities, and Medical Records. It also added space for a permanent, advanced CT scanner at the hospital. Also in 1991, the 17-bed inpatient psychiatric center opened, increasing the number of licensed beds to 94, which is where it stands currently.
In 1994, a $1 million Birth Center renovation created six Labor-Delivery-Recovery-Postpartum (LDRP) rooms, making Oaklawn among the first hospitals in the area to allow the mother to stay in one room from labor until going home.
In 1995, Oaklawn became one of the first hospitals in the area to use wireless laptop computers at each bedside, a major advancement in clinician communication.
During the 1990s, the volume of outpatient services began to skyrocket. More procedures, including surgeries, could be done without an inpatient stay. During this decade, Oaklawn’s outpatient volume in Radiology, Laboratory, Cardiopulmonary and Outpatient Surgery increased each year.
Because of steady growth, Oaklawn’s expanding staff grew to 650 employees in 2004, becoming Marshall’s largest employer when long-time employment leaders, Eaton Corporation and State Farm Regional Insurance Offices continued to downsize.
In 2005, the hospital continued its commitment to outstanding facilities with the expansion of the Cronin Imaging Center, the Franke Family Laboratory, Registration and the Emergency Department.
Oaklawn also introduced a new service in the spring of 2005, with the Oaklawn Sleep Center opening its doors on the east end of the downtown retail district, across from the old Brooks Rupture Appliance Building. The Sleep Center tests and treats all types of sleep disorders. Near the end of the year, Oaklawn became the first Michigan hospital west of Ann Arbor to purchase a da Vinci Robotic Surgery System.
Committed to providing leading edge technology, in 2006 Oaklawn became the first Michigan hospital to offer Definium 8000 direct-capture radiographic technology, which provided faster exams, superior images, and quicker results.
In 2007, Oaklawn completed a $27 million expansion project that added a third and fourth floor and converted all acute-care rooms to spacious, high-tech private rooms. Oaklawn was among the first wave of hospitals in Michigan to go to all private rooms in an effort to enhance patient privacy, reduce the risk of infection, decrease patient stress, speed healing, shorten hospital stays and improve family amenities.
The final stage of that project enlarged the Critical Care Unit from four rooms to 12. Each of these private rooms has the capability of being utilized as critical care rooms or “step down” rooms for patients who require close monitoring but less intensive care.
In 2007, Oaklawn renovated the Brooks Rupture Appliance Building downtown as its Dialysis Center and opened its Wound Care Clinic in 2008.
Over the years, Oaklawn has expanded its service area throughout Calhoun County while enhancing its range of medical specialties through the Oaklawn Medical Group, created in 2010.
A physician office on Beadle Lake Road at Battle Creek was opened and expanded, and the Ricketson Medical Building was established in a renovated structure directly west of the hospital. In 2011, the Oaklawn Life Improvement Center became available to members 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In February 2012, a 45,000-square-foot surgery center was dedicated, featuring four new operating rooms. A new Holistic Center opened in April 2012 at Oaklawn’s Bear Creek campus, and the following May a renovated front entrance and lobby were dedicated, along with expanded complimentary valet parking.
Oaklawn put into service its renovated and expanded Birth Center as 2013 began. Construction on the $2 million project began in August 2012 and was completed Dec. 31, boosting overall square footage by about 25 percent, to 14,679 square feet, including the waiting area.
By 2013, Oaklawn was providing 27 percent of its services off its main campus, including physician offices in Albion, Tekonsha, Homer, Bellevue, Beadle Lake and Olivet. Consumer Reports listed Oaklawn among Michigan’s most trustworthy hospitals for safe surgical services. Oaklawn also was ranked among the top 20 percent of Michigan hospitals for surgical safety.
That same year, Ginger Williams, M.D., became President and CEO, succeeding Rob Covert. The following year, the national magazine Consumer Reports declared that Oaklawn was Michigan’s safest hospital. The American Nurse Credentialing Center consistently has honored Oaklawn with a renewal of its MAGNET Hospital recognition for nursing excellence, joining only a handful of health-care organizations in Michigan so selected.
In mid-2015, Oaklawn After Hours opened in downtown Marshall to serve patients requiring help with minor injuries and illnesses after normal business hours. Also in that year, the new Oaklawn Dialysis Center of Albion was launched as a joint venture with Fresenius Medical Care West Michigan. Oaklawn also was recognized by iVantage Health Analytics and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health for overall excellence in quality, outcomes and patient perspectives.
In 2016, Oaklawn’s main campus became the only hospital in Calhoun County to be designated by the state of Michigan as an official Level III Trauma Center, based primarily on criteria established by the American College of Surgeons. The hospital also was recognized as one of just four in Michigan and 102 U.S. hospitals to earn five stars – the highest possible – in a ranking announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
In 2017, an estimate by Marshall Area Economic Development Alliance officials concluded that the economic impact of Oaklawn’s health-care services in the community was about $250 million annually.
In 2018, Ginger Williams concluded her service as President and CEO, and Gregg Beeg was appointed interim President and CEO. Oaklawn expanded primary care and physical rehabilitation services south to include the community of Coldwater, MI.
In 2019, Oaklawn opened a new urgent-care-level clinic in central Albion, intended to improve access to medical services for city residents and Albion College students.
As Marshall’s largest employer, with a team of approximately 1,000 people, Oaklawn has proven to be a solid, thriving cornerstone of Marshall and surrounding communities.