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Pete’s Perspective: Anniversary of Opening Day

Pete’s Perspective: Anniversary of Opening Day

Media Contact: Karina Rusk

Salinas Valley Health Medical Center celebrates the 69th anniversary of its opening on April 20! While we have accomplished much in nearly seven decades of service to the community, what comes to mind when I think about opening day in 1953 is perseverance.

Planning for the hospital began in 1941, more than a decade before the hospital opened its doors. Local businessman Bruce Church identified the need for a new hospital and more than 175 civic leaders, many of them in the agriculture industry, responded with overwhelming support. Bruce Church donated the land and the citizens of the Salinas Valley raised $300,000 for the hospital campaign.

WWII and a series of setbacks stalled the effort. Regrouping, the Salinas Memorial Hospital Association remained undaunted. With the passage of a bond, establishment of a tax district and continued fundraising, the Hospital Association finally claimed victory.

The postwar years were a time of tremendous growth for Salinas. And with the opening of the new $3.3 million dollar Salinas Valley Health Medical Center – dedicated to the health of the community in memory of the men and women of the armed forces – a new era was ushered in. Thousands of Salinas Valley residents were able to receive high quality healthcare at a modern medical facility close to home.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the hospital, which was constructed without federal or state funding, as an “admirable example of local self-reliance and initiative.” That forward thinking mindset paved the way for a future of successes. Strong governance, planning, fiscal responsibility and a laser focus on the highest quality of patient care evolved as hallmarks of leadership. As technological advances in the next half-century revolutionized healthcare at a dizzying pace, the hospital followed that arc of history with progressive expansion of medical services to the people of the Salinas Valley.

Growing from a small district hospital to an integrated healthcare system reaching generations of lives, Salinas Valley Health built on the promise and the legacy of its founders to earn prestigious national awards and recognition. Now providing care for more than one-half million patients annually through a network of affiliations in dozens of different locations, Salinas Valley Health honors the perseverance and vision of those early leaders in serving as a center of excellence where an inspired team delivers an exceptional patient experience.

The past 2 years of the pandemic were a defining time for Salinas Valley Health. Our team embraced diverse approaches to balance safety with quality patient care. It was a time for redeployment of hospital staff to change course from their regular jobs and serve our community directly. From nurses traveling to farm fields to help agricultural workers learn how to protect themselves and their families, to staffing phone lines to answer questions from the public, to bringing groceries to homebound seniors and more. It was a time when Salinas Valley Health, a cornerstone of healthcare, rose to be an ever-more valued resource for the people of the Salinas Valley.

As we look toward the future, we at Salinas Valley Health are excited about the chapters that will unfold. Exceptional service is not just a high standard, it has been our standard for the past 69 years and continues to be at the forefront of our work.

Be well.

– Pete

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