The first Minnesota Health Care Engineers seminar was held in Brainerd, Minnesota at the Holiday Inn, September 30, and October 1, 1976. At that time only the Southern Hospital Engineers and Twin City Hospital Engineering Association were meeting on a regular basis. Some of their members, George Burton, Jerry Glynn, Lynden Johnson, Lynwood Steiert and Gary Boesen conceived the idea of such a seminar and did the planning. Their first session was held at the Holiday House in St. Peter, Minnesota. Lynden Johnson was coordinator and treasurer for the first conference.
Lynden was also our American Society for Hospital Engineers (ASHE) region six representative and could see many good things occurring with national seminars. He noted that many of the smaller health care facilities found it difficult, if not impossible, to send engineers to national meetings. The group felt that this type of seminar would be good on a state wide basis to provide education and sharing of ideas to all Minnesota engineers, whether in Hospitals or Nursing Homes. As many of the members recall this was the era of the energy crisis. There was a lot of publicity about hospital electrical safety, and the start of emphasis on codes and standards for health care buildings. The first seminar addressed these items with national speakers, Charlie Morrison and J. Armand Burgun, of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and committee chairman of the Life Safety Code 101.
When the group started they had no funds and borrowed $100.00 from the Twin City Hospital Engineering, for printing and postage, all the time hoping attendance would be enough to cover expenses. A fee of $35.00 was set which included coffee and two lunches. That first meeting was attended by 76 engineers that resulted in income of $2,660.00 with total expenses of only $1,926.70. This gave the group income of $733.30 that insured that further seminars would be held.
At the seminar Gary Boesen and Jay Felten gathered all the engineers in the Midwest area to discuss meeting at times other than at an annual meeting. As a result of their efforts the Midwestern Health Care Engineers Association was formed on October 21, 1976, and became a sponsor of our annual seminar.
Our second seminar in 1977 was held at Arrowwood Lodge in Alexandria. Attendance at this meeting was 72. Starting with the 1978 seminar at the Holiday Inn in St. Cloud, the Minnesota Telecommunications Managers joined our group. At that time telecommunications was a section within ASHE and met with them at their annual meetings. Attendance that year topped out at 97. The telecommunication group stayed with us until 1988 when they decided that low participation on their part did not make it financially feasible to continue.
The original seminar fee of $35.00 continued in effect through the 1979 meeting. In 1980 the meeting fees were raised to $60.00. That year two vendors were solicited to sponsor social hours on Wednesday and Thursday evenings. This practice continued until 1983 when we started a trade show with fifteen vendors, and the association then sponsored social hours. Vendors are still part of our seminar and have helped in keeping the seminar registration fee at $60.00.
In 1983 we also honored Jerry Glynn from Spring Valley Hospital with our first Minnesota Health Care Engineering Award for outstanding work in promoting the State meeting. This was a busy year as two engineers, Dan Merten from Crookston and Hank Vold from Bemidji, worked hard to form the Northern Health Care Engineers Association. In 1985 Alan Andreae from Ely, Jim Skipper from Virginia, and Brian Morgan from Duluth made the same effort and the Arrowhead Health Care Engineers Association became a reality. Credit for those associations being started must also go to the midwest engineers who urged them on and gave needed support with by-laws and meeting structures.