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  • Community Hospital celebrates 75th anniversary with open house

Published on October 12, 2009

Community Hospital celebrates 75th anniversary with open house

For Immediate Release
Contact: Brenda Moore 831-625-4544 831-625-4505

October 12, 2009

MONTEREY , Calif. - Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula marks its 75th anniversary on October 18 with a thank-you celebration for the people who helped us reach this historic occasion: the community, staff - current and retired - volunteers, doctors, and former patients and their families.

"Over the last 75 years," says Steven Packer, MD, president and chief executive officer, "many people in our community have made a connection with us. They may have welcomed a child here, mourned the loss of a loved one, visited an ailing friend, made an unexpected trip to the ER. All of those events add up to our collective experience - and that's what we're celebrating. From the beginning, it was the community that created this hospital."

The free celebration is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, October 18 in the plaza outside Community Hospital 's main entrance. There will be refreshments, guest speakers, entertainment by hospital staff members, volunteers, doctors, and their families, as well as tours of a historic photo gallery.

The hospital's actual birthday is October 19, 1934 - the day a former metabolic clinic in Carmel officially became Peninsula Community Hospital , the predecessor to Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula .

Housed in a small, Spanish-style building, the hospital served the local community with the same pioneering spirit that inspired the rest of the bohemian village  of Carmel . It was the place where Peninsula residents were treated for all manner of illnesses, where some lives came to an end, and where many began.

As the Peninsula grew, so did the need for a bigger hospital. In the 1950s, Thomas E. Tonkin, the hospital's first chief executive, developed a plan to raise money to replace the aging and cramped 60-bed hospital. His vision won the support of Samuel F.B. Morse and his Del Monte Properties Company, which donated the 22 forested acres overlooking Monterey Bay on which the hospital stands today.

Renowned architect Edward Durell Stone was hired to design the new hospital, charged with making it a place that was both visually pleasing and environmentally healing. Tonkin, who died in 2008, described the goals in a 1965 interview in an architectural magazine: "We decided . . . to try to express the desire of our community to have a hospital that wouldn't look like a hospital, so that people coming to it would perhaps be free of some of the fears and anxieties usually attendant on hospitalization."

The new, 100-bed, 210,000-square-foot hospital opened on June 28, 1962. Moving day from the old Carmel hospital was a highly organized, carefully staged event. By the end of the day, some 10 vans had been unloaded and 500 packing boxes emptied. Volunteers from all hospital departments and the Auxiliary helped keep moving costs to an estimated $1,000.

The most difficult part of the transfer, moving the 46 patients, was accomplished in a mere two hours and six minutes.

As community needs have grown, so has Community Hospital . The first major expansion was completed in 1971, when the hospital grew from 100 beds to 172. A little more than a decade later, in 1983, came a 42,000-square-foot addition housing outpatient, educational, and business office functions. The Outpatient Surgery Center followed in 1988, enabling many patients to go home on the same day as their procedure.

Other milestones included the Family Birth Center in 1996, designed to keep families together in a single labor-and-delivery room; acquisition of Hospice of the Central Coast in 1997; and the opening of the Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1999.

Off site, the hospital remodeled and reopened the former Eskaton Monterey Hospital as Hartnell Professional Center in 1997, housing outpatient mental health services, the Recovery Center and its Clint Eastwood Youth Program, the Cardiopulmonary Wellness program, the Blood Center , a satellite laboratory, and imaging services. In 2002, the warm and welcoming Breast Care Center opened in Monterey , followed two years later by the Ryan Ranch Outpatient Campus with the Sleep Disorders Center , Diabetes and Nutrition Therapy programs, Community Imaging Center , a satellite lab, and the Community Health and Hospice Resource Center .

The last 10 years have been the decade of the Pavilions Project. Construction of Forest Pavilion added 120 patient rooms, and South Pavilion added 135,000 square feet, with a new, expanded Emergency department and state-of-the-art, critical-care services and operating suites. The new operating rooms enabled the start of an open-heart surgery program in 2007, part of the comprehensive services offered through the Tyler Heart Institute.

"We couldn't have done any of these things without the continuing, generous support of the community," says Albert Alvarez, chief development officer for Community Hospital . "The tradition started in Carmel , at Peninsula Community Hospital , and continued when we moved to our current facility, which was built on donated land.

"Our supporters have helped us construct new buildings, bring in new technology, pay for the care of patients who couldn't pay for themselves, and enhance our healing environment through art and music. We are indebted to them for what they've already helped us accomplish and know they will play an integral part as we continue to grow and change to meet their needs."

Packer says the connection the hospital has built with the community is what makes Community Hospital a special place.

"I visit a lot with patients, employees, medical staff members, donors, and visitors from out of the area," Packer says. "What sets us apart from other hospitals, first and foremost, is not our buildings, our Fountain Court  , our art, our music, or our food. What sets us apart is what I am most proud of: the staff we have here every day. They create the welcome feeling people get when they enter the building; they provide the compassion that pervades.

"This, in part, reflects the size of our community. In a large, urban setting, staff is not treating the school teacher, the checker at Trader Joe's, the people watching their kids at the soccer game. It's all very impersonal. We operate in the sweet spot. We are not so small that we can't provide state-of-the-art technology and care. And we are not so large that we are impersonal.

"We hope the community will join us on this special occasion, and we look forward to commemorating more milestones together."

Community  Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula , founded in 1934 and located at 23625 Holman Highway in Monterey , has grown and evolved in direct response to the changing healthcare needs of the people it serves. It is a nonprofit healthcare provider with 205 staffed acute-care hospital beds and 28 skilled-nursing beds, delivering a continuum of care from birth to end of life, and every stage in between. It serves the Monterey Peninsula and surrounding communities through 15 locations, including the main hospital, outpatient facilities, satellite laboratories, a mental health clinic, a short-term skilled nursing facility, Hospice of the Central Coast , and business offices. Find more information about Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula at http://www.chomp.org/.