NEW ULM - A New Ulm healthcare leader during a critical transformation of healthcare delivery in town received the 2012 New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Legend Award Monday.
Harold Fenske, who began as Assistant Administrator at Union Hospital in 1969, and served as administrator until 1980 when the hospital merged with Loretto Hospital to create Sioux Valley Hospital, was honored.
A couple of years prior to the merger completion, Fenske took on the administrator role at New Ulm Medical Clinic, where he continued until retiring in 1987.
Staff photo by Fritz Busch
Harold Fenske, right, receives the 2012 New Ulm Medical Center (NUMC) Legends Award Monday from NUMC President Toby Freier.
Toby Freier, NUMC president, said Fenske was successful in recruiting physicians to New Ulm and building a solid and stable group of primary care providers.
"Not an easy task given our rural setting. His foresight and willingness to reach out to other healthcare providers set the stage for a highly-integrated system we have today," Freier said. "At the time of his retirement, the stage was set for the ultimate integration of the hospital and clinic. The clinic moved into a new building on the hospital campus in 1991."
Harold Fenske's son Bruce, publisher of The Journal, added color to the event with a story of how the family dealt with the career change.
"In 1969, the year my dad sold out of a financial securities business, we went on a five-week camping trip to Colorado before he began working at Union Hospital," Bruce Fenske said.
New Ulm Medical Center Clinic Manager Brenda Nielsen said Harold Fenske was "always a gentleman throughout challenging times, sometimes chaotic when New Ulm's two hospitals merged.
"Thanks to all the employees who made things happen," Fenske said. "It's amazing. I can't begin to describe all the things that took place. It took months and years of planning and preparation to get things ready...We did what we had to do... There was satisfaction in the end. It meant a lot to me."
Harold Fenske has been a member of the New Ulm Rotary Club, New Ulm Country Club, New Ulm Club, American Legion, and the United Church of Christ.
The Legends award program celebrates the legendary figures of the past and present at New Ulm Medical Center.
"Recipients are those persons who inspire us to achieve great things, who are admired for their skill and talents, and about whom miraculous stories are told," Freier said.
Eligible recipients include past employees, volunteers, board members or physicians.
Past Legends Award recipients since 2011 are L.A. Fritsche M.D. & Sons, Maryls Zetah R.N., Howard Vogel, M.D., Cleo Bolduan, L.P.N., Sister Nola Wiener, O. J. Seifert, M.D., Milton Kaiser, M.D., Kenneth Dirlam, M.D., Mary Johanneck, L.P.N., Connie Peterson, R.N., Evie Hacker, R.N., Larry Ringhofer, M.D., Fr. Alexander Berghold, Ruth Wold, R.N., and Frank Carthey, M.D.