Carle celebrates 75 years

By Leigh Krahenbuhl

This year marks the 75th year of service from Carle Clinic Association and Carle Foundation Hospital.

From their beginning in 1931, the facilities have grown from two physicians’ small practice to two separate entities that provide healthcare to patients throughout central Illinois. The anniversary celebration, themed “Friends of the Community for 75 years,” will last for all of 2006.

Aside from the hospital’s location just off the University campus, the Carle Clinic Association provides health care at 10 branch locations throughout central Illinois. Carle Clinic is a private group of more than 300 physicians who saw 212,994 patients in 2005, according to information from the Carle Clinic Market Research Department. The clinic provides its patients with care in more than 50 areas of medical specialization.

Carle Clinic was founded on Nov. 2, 1931, when Mayo clinic-trained J.C. Thomas Rogers, M.D., and Hugh L. Davison, M.D., began their practice in Urbana, John Pollard, M.D., a retired physician who worked with the Carle Foundation Hospital from 1963 to 1997, said.

“They lived there, had about 15 hospital beds and had a clinic there,” Pollard said.

After changing from a partnership with employed physicians to an association owned by the physicians, they created the Carle Foundation in 1946. The physicians donated the hospital and all the real estate to the foundation.

The clinic and hospital share a common beginning, yet today they work as separate units.

The not-for-profit Carle Foundation Hospital is a 295-bed facility that provides the area with the region’s only Level-I Trauma Center and is ranked in the top 100 hospitals in the country for the treatment of heart disease.

The facility also serves as the College of Medicine’s main teaching hospital, according to the Carle Foundation Hospital’s Web site. A closer tie with the University is something that the hospital hopes to see in its future, Pollard said.

“One of the big things (the hospital) is attempting to do is to develop a close association with the researchers at the University of Illinois to do research on diseases,” Pollard said.

Bruce Wellman, M.D., who is the Carle Clinic CEO, has worked with the clinic since 1985. He said that beyond allowing patients easy access to facilities and providing a full range of services, the clinic always works to make progress in the care that it provides.

“We do this by measuring what we do and providing feedback to our physicians,” Wellman said. “We try to continually look for areas to improve.”

In keeping with the theme of the celebration, Carle Clinic reaches out to be a friend of the community, Wellman said.

“I think we’ve been a very good citizen from the standpoint of not just providing accessible healthcare and a broad range of services,” Wellman said. “But we’ve also stepped up and made a lot of contributions to a variety of community causes.”

Despite the progress that the Carle Clinic has made over the past 75 years, they face some challenges.

“We’re challenged in trying to get the patients involved in their own care,” Wellman said.

60 to 70 percent of the rise in healthcare costs is due to lifestyle choices people make, Wellman said.

He said that other than the patients’ lack of involvement in their own health, the clinic faces other challenges such as finding and keeping well-trained professionals, deciding where to put their resources based on the ever-changing healthcare system and doing their best to take advantage of newly developed technology.

As it heads into the future, Carle Clinic hopes to improve on the many areas of specialization that they already provide.

“We think the services are going to be necessary,” Wellman said. “And it will provide a better environment to attract and retain the professionals that we need to provide the care.”