Southwestern Sanatorium on Lake Okabena near Worthington, Minnesota, served the residents of Lincoln, Lyon, Pipestone, Murray, Rock, Nobles, Cottonwood, and Jackson counties. It opened in July 1917, with Dr. E. J. Murray as superintendent, but closed the following February because of problems with the water supply. It reopened on April 7, 1919, with capacity for 45 patients. That later increased to 52, although at one time in 1922 there were 56 people being cared for. A waiting list existed for many years, especially after Watonwan county joined the group in the late 1920s.
Southwestern had the same superintendent for almost its entire existence. Dr. Sidney A. Slater joined the staff in 1919, and was there when it closed in 1957. He was an early proponent of county-wide tuberculin testing for all school children. The findings that only 10 percent of the children had primary tuberculosis disproved commonly held beliefs about the incidence of infection among children. One of the sanatorium's physicians, Dr. Lewis Jordan, left in 1929 to be superintendent of the Riverside Sanatorium in Granite Falls, where he instituted similar testing.
The Worthington Crippled Children’s School, later named the Lakeview School, occupied the former sanatorium's buildings until 1996. A portion of the city's Slater Park and Campground is on the site now.
Source: Southwestern Sanatorium archives at the Minnesota History Center.
Additional resource: Nobles County Historical Society
Southwestern Sanatorium campus
Photo: Private postacrd collection