Today, FSPA partners with Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, St. Anthony Regional Hospital, and Viterbo University.
In 1883, in response to the need of the maritime trade on the Mississippi River and the growing population in the western part of the state, the Franciscan Sisters built and operated St. Francis Hospital in La Crosse, their first venture into health care and western Wisconsin's first hospital. Seeing the need to enhance the technical and patient care skill of the sisters, they opened St. Francis School of Nursing in 1901.
Having established themselves as competent health care providers in nursing, medical technology, medical records and nurse anesthesiology, the sisters continued to expand their health care services. In 1905, the sisters built St. Anthony Hospital in Carroll, Iowa, at the request of Rev. Joseph Kuemper. The St. Anthony School of Nursing soon followed. In 1916, St. Mary's Hospital was built in Sparta, Wis., with a School of Nursing added in 1921. In 1926, the sisters staffed St. Joseph Home for the Aged which was built by the Diocese of La Crosse. In 1941, the sisters assumed ownership and staffing of Sacred Heart Hospital, Idaho Falls, Idaho, and managed Lost Rivers Hospital, Arco, Idaho, for the county. In 1956, FSPA assumed ownership and staffing of St. Joseph Memorial Hospital and Nursing Home in Hillsboro, Wis.
Changes in the delivery of health care necessitated some organizational changes leading to the incorporation of the Franciscan Health System in 1982 consisting of St. Francis Hospital, St. Mary's Hospital, and related health corporations. Later, in 1983, St. Joseph Hospital, Arcadia, Wis., was incorporated into the system. In 1995, the Franciscan Health System merged with Skemp Clinic, becoming Franciscan Skemp Healthcare and part of Mayo Health System. The organization later became Mayo Clinic Health System – Franciscan Healthcare.
Our health care partners today
In keeping with the original mission of the Tertiaries who came to Wisconsin in 1849 to teach the children, the sisters formalized their teacher training and preparation by establishing the St. Rose Normal School. In 1890, St. Rose Normal School, which educated members of the communty to become teachers, received accreditation.
Two years later, Viterbo College was accreditated by the University of Wisconsin to award a bachelor of science degree. At this time, all students were members of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration; however, in 1943, Viterbo College expanded to admit lay women.
Always sensitive to the signs of the times, Viterbo College became co-educational in 1971. New majors were added, the student enrollment increased, additional facilities were either purchased or constructed. Residence halls were built to accommodate the lay students and athletic teams were added to attract particularly male students. Campus life was teeming and both sisters and lay people were members of the faculty and administration. In 2000, Viterbo College attained university status and became Viterbo University. Today, it continues to enjoy a growth in enrollment, national and regional honors for student and faculty achievements and involvements, and to expand into graduate programming, online learning and creative solutions for educating all regardless of age.