LINDSBORG — Health care has seen a number of rapid changes in recent decades, and those changes necessitated an evolution in the way hospitals were set up to treat patients.

Larry Van Der Wege, administrator at Lindsborg Community Hospital, will present “75 Years and Counting” at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Bethany Home Activity Center, 321 N. Chestnut in Lindsborg. The program is sponsored by the Smoky Valley Historical Association.

Van Der Wege intends to share some of the hospital’s history and its different locations throughout the year.

“A big story to tell is that we still have a very high-functioning, capable health care system here in Lindsborg and have for 75 years as the Lindsborg Community Hospital Association and had it even prior to that with private practices,” Van Der Wege said.

The Lindsborg Community Hospital Association was formed in 1944 and construction of a large hospital facility was completed in 1949. Prior to that time, patients received medical care in buildings that were more like private homes.

Van Der Wege said many can recall a time when doctors and nurses smoked in the hospitals and a list of patients was posted for all to see — both practices that have since been prohibited.

Medical careers are no longer so defined along gender lines as they were fifty years ago.

“It used to be men were the doctors and women were the nurses — not anymore,” Van Der Wege said.

Lindsborg’s current hospital building was built in 1991.

“We had a late October blizzard in 1991 with about eight niches of snow and that actually was the day they moved,” Van Der Wege said.

Lindsborg Rural Health Clinic was opened in 1994 and shared the same building, but did not consolidate with the hospital until 2012, which was the same year Lindsborg Community Hospital began its affiliation with Salina Regional Health Center.

“Lindsborg was kind of ahead of its time with that merger into one organization,” Van Der Wege said. “Now, you’re seeing that more and more throughout the county as well as throughout central Kansas.”

The progression of health care from single-physician offices to multi-physician facilities and the merging of physician care into hospital facilities will also be highlighted by Van Der Wege.

“More and more, doctors are being employed by hospitals or health systems or, if they’re in private practice, they’re in a large, multi-speciality private practice,” Van Der Wege said.

Doctors used to be able do their rounds at the hospitals in the mornings and still have time to sit down for a cup of coffee afterwards.

“Now, it takes a significant amount of time to round on just a fraction of the number of patients,” Van Der Wege said. “I think part of that is the complexity of electronic medical records and the amount of information that we have to keep on patients.”

Medical records used to consist of brief, handwritten orders, but now documentation has become more detailed and complex.

“Medicine was a lot simpler then just because there weren’t as many things that you could do,” Van Der Wege said. Health care itself is more complex, with more tests, medications and equipment available.

“I know, just in my years, how much this facility has evolved,” Van Der Wege said. “...When I came on board 20 years ago, we only had a handful of computers.”

Hospitals no longer need a darkroom to develop X-ray images, and patients and doctors can share information more quickly and efficiently.

“In so many ways, technology has made things better,” Van Der Wege said. “Not in every way; it has its challenges, too.”

Van Der Wege will also share about current changes at Lindsborg Community Hospital, including details about the Patient-Centered Remodel.

“We’re adding on to our clinic,” Van Der Wege said. “We’re also remodeling what was a retail pharmacy space into urgent care.”

Other changes include the consolidation of the facility’s two waiting rooms and registration areas and moving the lab to the front of the hospital.

Through the year, it was the dedication of the people working at and for the hospital that led to its growth.

“We have a patient base in Lindsborg and the surrounding communities who support us and that seek to have their care provided here,” Van Der Wege said. “...They trust us to continue to provide for their health care needs and we’ll continue to work to earn that trust.”

Van Der Wege said he would like to hear stories from people who remember the early days of the hospital at his presentation.

“It takes people and leadership to make it happen and it takes God’s blessings and other blessings along the way...to keep it all together and sustain it,” Van Der Wege said.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MacSentinel.