Lloyd Klefsted was born and raised in Duluth, where he graduated from St. Olaf. He attended medical school at Western Reserve University in Cleveland. During WWII, Dr. Klefstad was a ship’s surgeon. Helen graduated as a dietician while in Cleveland.
Dr. and Mrs. Klefstad arrived in Greenbush on December 10, 1947, in a Ford Coupe pulling a Navy surplus trailer with personal belongings and medical supplies. Dr. Klefstad wanted to start a clinic in Greenbush because he heard that there would be a new hospital in 7 months, and they needed a doctor.
The Klefstad Clinic was established in 1947 during a transitional time in medicine. Many of the new techniques were introduced in northern Minnesota by Dr. Klefstad: intravenous fluids (IVs) and Penicillin. In addition, the protocol for hospital operation was brought up to a modern stand by the Klefstad practice.
The Greenbush hospital was completed in 1950. For three years, Dr. Klefstad treated people in their homes when possible. He administered IV fluids, delivered babies, and performed minor surgeries in home homes devising ingenious ways to bring the most advanced care available to the farms around Greenbush. The fee to deliver a baby was $50, including all prenatal and postpartum care. The smallest baby delivered was Adrian Davis, who weighed 26 oz at birth later dropped to 20 oz. He was delivered and cared for at the Greenbush hospital. Years later, his mother sent a photo of the 6′ Adrian in the army.
The Greenbush hospital was finally built and added to over the years. It was paid for by the busy medical practice in Greenbush and eventually employed 100 people. When Dr. Klefstad delivered his own last baby, Marie, in 1962, the hospital had 32 acute beds and 60 nursing home beds. There were 39 patients in-house, including nine newborns, not counting the nursing home residents. In addition, because of the extent of surgery and trauma work done in practice, a physical therapy department was established in the hospital.
The Klefstads were also very active in the community. Lloyd played piano in a dance band for hospital benefits, promoted professional wrestling, donated the land for the golf course and worked to get it going, raffled a pony for the golf course benefit, and served on the building committee for the Bethel educational wing. He also platted land for residential additions to Greenbush. Helen was instrumental in starting the Girl Scouts. She had the senior scouts catalog books for the first Greenbush library located at the hospital. She was instrumental in joining the Roseau County Libraries to the Regional Library system and campaigned to raise tax revenues to support a new library space. In 1962 it moved into its new home in the downtown municipal building. Helen was active in the PTA hospital auxiliary, Bethel church, started the Candy Stripers, and was conference president of the American Lutheran Women. They were both active in the Roseau County Republicans. All 5 of their children, Karen, Randy, Lloyd, Ann, and Marie, were born in Greenbush.
In 1967 the family traveled to Madagascar, where Lloyd served as a medical missionary. Lloyd and Helen also operated the Out Island Clinic out of Warroad for four years. They traveled 100 miles round trip in a boat to care for patients on Lake of the Woods as far as Oak Island and Flag Island.
When the doctor and his family moved to Cannon Falls, Minnesota, in 1975, 16 patients were in the hospital. Dr. Arnie Melby, who had practiced with Dr. Klefstad during that year, remained until Dr. LaTonn took over the clinic in 1976.
The following physicians practiced with Dr. Klefstad at various times: Dr. Carl Bretzke, Dr. Arnold Onverland, Dr. James Terrian, Dr. Ed Gerrish, and Dr. Arnie Melby.
Information from Dr. Klefstad, Greenbush Tribune, and research done by Linda Gieseke for the Greenbush Centennial book.