Founding of ACMC Health – The Merger of 2 Clinics


Willmar Clinic

In the early 1900's, Willmar Clinic was formed by Berton Joshua Branton who also owned and operated the Willmar Hospital. In 1946 Dr. Branton was ready to retire. Dr. Michels, Dr. Peterson and Dr. McCarthy joined the Willmar Clinic between 1946 to 1948. Dr. Branton died in 1950 and the partners bought the building at 314 West Becker from his estate. In the 1950's they were joined by Dr. Ellinger, Dr. Docksey and Dr. Hinderaker. The clinic continued to grow throughout the '60s, and they decided to build a new clinic.

Lakeland Medical Center

In 1949, four general practitioners, Dr. Robert V. Hodapp, Dr. Ray Proeschel, Dr. Douglas Jacobs and Dr. Lloyd Gilman, combined their practices to form Lakeland Medical Center in a new building at 325 West Sixth Street in Willmar. The clinic continued to grow and about the time they were discussing the building of a new clinic, the talks began about merging the two clinics into one.

Dr. John Docksey
Dr. Docksey joined the Willmar Clinic in 1956 and practiced medicine and surgery until his retirement in 1989. During his 33-year tenure, Dr. Docksey performed surgeries in hospitals around west-central and into eastern South Dakota, often traveling in his single-engine airplane.
Dr. Albert Ellinger
Dr. Ellinger joined the Willmar Clinic in 1951 after completing his residency in Pediatrics. He practiced at Willmar Clinic and then Willmar Medical Center as a Pediatrician until his retirement in 1985. Dr. Ellinger was a member of several organizations and associations.
Dr. Harris Hinderaker
Dr. Hinderaker was in private general practice in Bird Island, MN until he moved to Willmar and joined the Willmar Clinic in 1959. He served as an early preceptor for the Rural Physicians Associate Program (RPAP), and was a member of several different organizations. Dr. Hinderaker retired in 1986.
Dr. Austin McCarthy
Dr. McCarthy joined the Willmar Clinic in 1948 as a surgeon. He was with this group and its successor group, Willmar Medical Center, until his retirement in 1986. Although Dr. McCarthy was trained as a general surgeon, his primary interest was in Orthopedic Surgery; and he devoted the last ten years of his practice to this specialty. He pioneered the use of the "total hip replacement" in western Minnesota. Dr. McCarthy volunteered at many high school athletic events, was on the Minnesota Board of Medical Examiners, and was president of the Great Northern Surgeons Group.
Dr. Roger Michels
After a residency in Obstetrics Dr. Michels returned to Willmar and was instrumental in forming the Willmar Clinic with a group of his colleagues. He also received special recognition for his work on Special Olympics. Dr. Michel's practiced in Willmar until 1975 when he moved to the island of Guam and joined a health maintenance organization.
Dr. Willard Peterson
In 1946 Dr. Peterson moved to Willmar and joined the Willmar Clinic in the department of Internal Medicine. He served on the Minnesota State Board of Directors for the Tuberculosis and the American Lung Associations for 21 years. He retired in 1979 after 33 years of practice. He was an avid gardener, and spent his time after retirement supervising the planting of the flowers on the grounds of the Willmar Medical Center, where he was joined by several other retirees.
Dr. Wilson Salter
Dr. Salter joined the staff of the Willmar Clinic in 1967 where he practiced Internal Medicine. He was a member of the Board of Directors for both the clinic and Rice Hospital, and was a member of many organizations. Dr. Salter retired from practice in 1996.
Dr. Roger Strand
Dr. Strand, a general surgeon, joined the Willmar Clinic in 1969. In 1978 Dr. Strand took a leave of absence to study hand surgery in Kentucky. He continued as doing general surgery and hand surgery until his retirement in 1991. Dr. Strand has been named "Conservationist of the Year," and has been active in the development and hosting for Prairie Pothole Days, an annual fundraiser for the Minnesota Waterfowl Association.
Dr. Robert Thompson
Dr. Thompson joined the Willmar Clinic in 1969 in the family practice department. He practiced through the merger in 1971, when he then moved to the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine in Rochester. Eventually he established a family practice for himself in Zumbrota, MN.
Dr. Dale Eichelberger
Prior to joining Lakeland Medical Center in 1968, Dr. Eichelberger practiced at the Willmar Regional Treatment Center. In 1971 he served on the original Board of Directors for Willmar Medical Center. He eventually returned to the Willmar Regional Treatment Center as Medical Director of the Chemical Dependency Unit.
Dr. Lloyd Gilman
Dr. Gilman was engaged in a solo practice in Willmar before joining his colleagues to form the Lakeland Medical Center. He engaged in general practice and surgery until 1968 when he took a leave of absence for a urology residency. He returned in 1970 and devoted the years from 1970 until his retirement in 1981 to the practice of urology. He was the first urologist in Western Minnesota.
Dr. Walter Hinz
Following his discharge from the army in 1946 Dr. Hinz moved to Bird Island and was a general practitioner. He moved to Willmar in 1950 and joined the staff of Lakeland. He was in general practice with special emphasis on obstetrics. He remained in Willmar until his retirement in 1981.
Dr. Robert V. Hodapp
Dr. Hodapp joined the Lakeland Medical Center and engaged in family practice from 1949 to 1958. In 1958 he took a two-year leave of absence to pursue a residency in pediatrics. He returned in 1960 and specialized in pediatrics from 1960 until he retired in 1989.
Dr. Douglas Jacobs
Dr. Jacobs, a Willmar native, worked in private practice from 1936 to 1949. He then combined his practice with three colleagues to form Lakeland Medical Center. Here he continued his practice as a general physician and surgeon until his death in 1977. Dr. Jacobs was also a charter member of the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Dr. Donald Mattson
After two tours as a medical missionary in Korea, Dr. Mattson joined Lakeland Medical Center in 1967. There he practiced Internal Medicine with special areas of interest in cardiology and hypertension. Dr. Mattson retired in 1992.
Dr. David McAfee
In 1966 Dr. McAfee joined Lakeland Medical Center as a general surgeon. He remained there until 1983. He served as consultant in surgery at the Willmar State Hospital from 1967-1985. Dr. McAfee served on the Minnesota Surgical Society Board of Directors and he was also President of the Minnesota Council of American College of Surgeons. He was the coauthor of a long list of publications in prestigious medical journals.
Dr. John Meinert
Dr. Meinert joined the Lakeland Medical Center in 1955 and practiced in the department of Internal Medicine. He was the elected first President and Medical Director of Willmar Medical Center when the two groups merged. Dr. Meinert's leadership was instrumental in the success of the newly formed clinic. He also served as President of the Minnesota State Medical Association. In 1977 he served as a Special Fellow in Oncology at the University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. He developed the Oncology department here in Willmar. Dr. Meinert retired in 1990.
Dr. Ray Proeschel
In 1937 Dr. Proeschel set up a solo family practice in Willmar. His practice was interrupted by service in World War II where he served as a general medical and ward surgeon and also served as chief of the Obstetrics and Gynecology service in the Army Air Force Hospital. He returned to Willmar in 1946 and resumed his practice in the Hedin Building at 301 South West Fifth Street. In 1949 he joined three colleagues to form the Lakeland Medical Center. Dr. Proeschel was on the Board of Directors of the Willmar Medical Center during its early years from 1970 until his retirement in 1978.

Willmar Medical Center

The Willmar Medical Center was organized on January 1, 1971 when the Lakeland Medical Center and the Willmar Clinic merged to form one clinic. Lakeland Medical Center became the Downtown Office and Willmar Clinic became the South Office. In July of 1973, they consolidated both offices into the expanded South Office, which is the present location of the ACMC-Willmar Main Clinic.

Initially, Willmar Medical Center was composed of 18 physicians with the specialties of Family Practice, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, General Surgery and Urology represented. The original founders felt that a larger healthcare organization would allow greater opportunities in the healthcare industry to attract additional physicians, allow them to purchase additional high-tech medical equipment and improve efficiencies.

First Elected Board 1971
Dr. John Meinert Dr. Ray Proeschel Dr. John Docksey Dr. Willard Peterson Dr. Dale Eichelberger
The 5th member, Dr. Eichelberger, was elected by coin flip.


ACMC Administration History

Dr. John Meinert was elected the first President on October 11, 1970, with a formal merger of Lakeland Medical Center and the Willmar Clinic taking place on January 1, 1971.

Dr. John

Oct. 11, 1970
June 25, 1980
Dr. Harris

June 25, 1980
June 20, 1983
Dr. Robert V.

June 20, 1983
Sept. 4, 1985
Dr. Richard

Sept. 9, 1985
June 20, 1994
Dr. Burnell

June 20, 1994
April 24, 2000
Dr. Ronald

April 24, 2000
Dec. 31, 2015
Dr. Cindy
Firkins Smith

Jan. 1, 2016
Chief Medical Officer
Dr. James

1978 — 1981
Dr. Ronald

1981 — 1987
Dr. Norris

1987 — 1994
Dr. Robert

1995 — 2006
Dr. David

2007 — 2015
Dr. Deb

2016 — Present
Joseph Dillenburg
1971 — 1988
Lynn Freeman
1988 — 1994
Terry Tone
1994 — 2015
Steve Gerberding
2015 — Present