In 1946, an outbreak of polio spread across the United States and Minnesota was not isolated from this epidemic.
At the University, the Minnesota Poliomyelitis Research Committee, a team of medical researchers from a variety of disciplines under the direction of Maurice Visscher, created sophisticated surveys and data sets based on this epidemic to better understand the disease.
As part of this effort, the University Hospitals provided care to polio patients, both acute and chronic, as a public health service and a means to collect research data. Many of these patients were cared for off-site at the Fort Snelling army station hospital. Activities at the fort quickly came to a close in 1946 after the drawdown of troops after World War II. This drawdown, however, created a new opportunity for the University that proved to be a timely resource.
In December 1946 the University entered an agreement with the War Assets Department to “enter upon, occupy, and use” the facilities and grounds of the Gopher Ordnance Works, a war-time munitions plant and barracks, in Rosemount, MN for the cost of $1.
On January 3, 1947 the University moved non-acute polio patients to the new location and opened the Rosemount Hospital. The Rosemount location served as a hospital until June 30, 1948. During that time, it saw 269 patients for a total of 33,014 patient days.
Much of the above information and more on the University’s response to the 1946 polio epidemic can be found in the “Biennial Report of the President of the University of Minnesota to the Board of Regents 1946-1948.” Read the full report below.