Reed Hall's official job since 2000 was executive director of Marshfield Clinic. But when he retired in July 2010, it gave him more time to continue the work he enjoyed the most and will continue doing in retirement: maintaining important contacts for the Clinic behind the scenes.
Hall joined the Clinic in 1976 as its first general counsel. As the Clinic's chief lawyer, he played an important role in the growth and development of the Clinic from 145 physicians, 713 employees and one location, to a bustling medical center with more than 700 physicians and 7,200 employees at more than 50 locations.
He recalled three accomplishments he was most proud of: helping to create and administer the Clinic's self-insurance plan for medical malpractice; applying for and maintaining 501(c)(3) status from the federal government; and the successful defense of a major Blue Cross Blue Shield anti-trust lawsuit in the 1990s.
These landmarks made much of the Clinic's growth possible. The Blue Cross case is well-known in anti-trust circles and is still cited in law school education classes.
"I did not personally win this case. I was part of the team that won it," he said. "That case was about whether the Clinic was a monopoly and who controls the Clinic's fee schedule. Had we not won this case, we most likely would never have had the Marshfield Clinic and Security Health Plan that we see today."
Hall grew up in Tomah, Wisconsin, where the first eight years of his education took place in a one-room country schoolhouse. After high school, he went to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, earning a pre-law degree. He then completed law school at the University of North Dakota and completed a health law program at the University of Pittsburgh.
He's retained a soft spot in his heart for UW-Madison, serving on the Wisconsin Alumni Association Board (including as national chair in 2008-09) and as a 30-year member and past president of the UW-Madison Alumni Club of the Marshfield Area. He was featured in the spring 1985 issue of On Wisconsin, the alumni magazine of UW-Madison.
He's also been well-connected with other key organizations including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, Rotary, the American Medical Group Association, and the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. Over his career, he became the unofficial "face" of Marshfield Clinic and hosted many tours of the Clinic for visiting dignitaries and prospective donors.
"I thought of it as connecting people with a cause," he said. "If people have confidence in the institution, physicians, staff and the people in positions of responsibility, the gifts will come. Hopefully those tours have encouraged donations over the years."
Tradition of giving
Hall and his wife, Ellie, started a tradition of personal giving to the Clinic with a major commitment to the Lawton Society, a group formed to support construction of a research facility named for a former surgeon and president of the Clinic, Ben Lawton, M.D.
"Dr. Lawton was one of the giants of the Clinic who I admired greatly," Hall said. "He was a dynamic man and one of the most influential presidents in Clinic history. Building our first true research facility was a key statement that research and education were critical to the Clinic's mission."
Hall met Congressman Melvin R. Laird when he was working as a young congressional intern in 1970. Their paths would cross numerous times, culminating with the launch of capital campaigns for the Melvin Laird Center in 1997, the Laird Center for Medical Research in 2008, and with the formation of the National Advisory Council (NAC) in 1982. Laird and Hall continue to have frequent conversations.
The NAC consists of 20 state and national business people and professionals who advise the Clinic on matters impacting the future of the organization. In addition to advising, they've helped build connections to others interested in supporting Marshfield Clinic's research efforts. Members include Laird, the native son of Marshfield who became secretary of defense in 1972 and has continued to support Marshfield Clinic throughout his life.
The Halls made a significant commitment to the Laird Center for Medical Research, qualifying them for membership in the exclusive group of Laird Fellows. That was in part because of their long-term friendship and admiration of Laird, but also because they believe so strongly in the Clinic and its mission to provide access to quality medical care, research and education.
They've also encouraged Clinic physicians and staff to support this cause. Ellie Hall has been a board member and a volunteer for New Visions Gallery in the Clinic, and has donated homemade quilted wall hangings for New Visions fundraisers as well as the Auction of Champions, an annual fundraiser for the National Farm Medicine Center at Marshfield Clinic.
Reed and Ellie Hall have also developed great relationships with people who have become major donors to the Clinic. One of those relationships developed into the largest individual financial commitment the Clinic has ever received, and helped put the Laird Center campaign 'over the top."
In retirement, the Halls expect to spend more of their time at their cottage on Blue Lake in Minocqua, Wisconsin. They enjoy kayaking every day in season, boating, walking, watching wildlife and observing an eagle nest across the bay with a spotting scope. Reed will also continue to do volunteer work on behalf of Marshfield Clinic.