Our Legacy

Forward Health Foundation, with our focus on community and the future in mind, has had a legacy of overcoming and pulling together since 1955. Your gifts serve our community by meeting the needs regarding the health and well-being of our residents. Our people, initiatives, and organization exist to partner with you to transform our community with innovative solutions.

The Challenge

1955, the Deer River community faced a challenge: the current hospital would be shut down because it no longer met State Board of Health standards. The hospital’s administrator, Margaret Severson, immediately turned to the community for help. A Volunteer Hospital Committee was formed and applied for federal aid to fund the construction of a new hospital. Because of the proximity to the Grand Rapids hospital, the request was denied. Rather than abandon the project, the committee redoubled their efforts and began seeking pledges from businesses, churches, and organizations.

Raising Funds

Local fundraisers began with the Deer River Women’s Club at the forefront of the activity. They tirelessly and passionately raised over $21,000 in five years through smelt feeds, cookie bakes and style shows, which led to a national award for community improvement by the Sears Roebuck Foundation. A building site was donated, and ground was broken in 1956 for the new hospital. Individuals, families, and even children donated their allowances and their paper delivery pay to see the hospital built in Deer River.

Opening Our Doors

Over four years later and through many obstacles, Community Memorial Hospital opened its doors on April 16, 1962 in the midst of a spring snowstorm. Since that time, the facility has grown and changed, continually adapting to the changing healthcare environment and the community’s needs.

The Future

As we look into the future, our goal is to serve our community by identifying and responding to needs regarding the health and well-being of our residents. We consider it a privilege to be part of the community and look forward to working with and for the people of our area for many years to come.

This attractive two story building, rated by state health department officials as unfit for use as a hospital in Deer River six years ago will be vacated by Saturday night of this week after having served in that capacity for almost 20 years. All available volunteer workers and owners of trucks are asked to be on hand at 9 a.m. to help with the moving project.
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Gifts to the Forward Health Foundation help support health and wellness in our communities. From groundbreaking new programs and projects to support of critical healthcare efforts, we can provide you with a variety of giving options.

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