Old Hospital in Walthill Being Restored

Aug. 2, 2021, 6:45 a.m. ·

Listen To This Story

A historic hospital in Walthill, Nebraska is being restored. The facility was built by a local Northeast Nebraska doctor in 1912.

Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte became the first Native American female physician in the nation in 1889. ‘Dr. Susan,’ as she was affectionately referred to, raised money with help from a local church to build the ‘Picotte Center’ hospital, making it the first built on a reservation without federal funding.

A local committee of Picotte’s descendants, Omaha Tribe elders, and architect and museum professionals decided to repurpose the old building.

“Their goal was to sort of try to bring this back to serve the community as Dr. Susan intended,” Dr. Britt Thedinger of the Nebraska Medical Association, which is leading the fundraising efforts said.

Thedinger said the medical association has a few goals with the restoration.

“{The goals are to} Bring awareness to this wonderful Nebraska hero, a colleague, a fellow physician who is really a remarkable story of what she accomplished,” he said. “Two would be to help honor her sacrifice and service.”

The restored space could potentially be used for medical services, a boys and girls club, and local arts and cultural exhibits, along with a history display explaining how Dr. Susan impacted the community.

Exterior work such as replacing the windows and roof are completed. Next, the committee will refine the inside of the old hospital.

The hospital closed in 1944 and has since been used as a senior care facility, private residence and retail store. Most recently it was a museum on the main floor with other floors used as an office of farm and legal aid, charity clothing distribution, and family services center.