Between World War I and II, Marshfield Clinic added physicians, medical skills and support staff; policies and practices adapted to a changing environment; and an education sabbatical program was adopted.
Clinic doctors left their practices to serve in World War II. For example, Pediatrician James Vedder, Jr., was awarded the Silver Star for bravery and published a book about his Iwo Jima experiences.
The wartime economy caused the corporation to nearly dissolve in 1944. Medical care was still given without regard to ability to pay, though supplies were scarce.
After World War II, Obstetrician Russell Lewis, M.D., and Thoracic Surgeon Ben Lawton, M.D., joined the Clinic. Both had major influences on the Clinic's course, became Clinic presidents and had regional and national reputations. Dr. Lewis was the architect and first medical director of the Greater Marshfield Community Health Plan, one of the earliest HMOs in the country and predecessor of today's Security Health Plan of Wisconsin, Inc.
In 1970, he became the Clinic's first medical director. Dr. Lawton served on the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and was a presidential appointee to the nation's Institute of Medicine.
To recognize his social advocacy, Dr. Lawton received a pen used by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 to sign Medicare into law.