A century of caring
It was 100 years ago, on May 26, 1911, that three Sisters of Providence arrived in Medford. The Sisters’ story is one of hard work, of faith and of response to community need. It is also one of community response and community support to ensure continual growth and excellence in health care for the people of southern Oregon and northern California.
At the time, Medford boasted a population of 11,500. In the home of John Cox located on the corner of Eleventh and South Central, several doctors operated the Southern Oregon Hospital. The facility was inadequate to meet the needs of the growing community, so they physicians appealed to Portland’s Archbishop Christie and petitioned the Sisters of Charity of Providence to undertake a hospital in Medford.
On May 26, 1911, Sister Praxedes, Sister Pascal and Sister Gerard arrived in Medford to take over the little Southern Oregon Hospital, and started making plans for a new facility. The site selected was Nob Hill, Siskiyou Heights. And on January 2, 1912, the Sisters and patients moved to the red brick building on the hill known as Sacred Heart Hospital.
Even then, the Providence hospital was considered ahead of its time, “Equipped with every device known to modern science.” (Medford Mail Tribune, Feb. 19, 1912) “Ventilation by electric fans so marvelous that every particle of air in the building, on every floor and in every room can be changed in four minutes… heated with hot water, the most satisfactory way of heating a sick room.”
The doctors and nurses at Sacred Heart Hospital battled the 70-day siege of the 1918 Spanish flu and nursed a diphtheria outbreak in the 1920s. Waves of influenza, smallpox and cholera were common. During the Great Depression, the Sisters allowed patients to pay with produce, beef and chicken, which they turned into meals for staff, patients and the poor.
During their first decade, the Sisters opened a training school for nurses, the first in southern Oregon. By the time Sacred Heart Hospital celebrated 25 years, they had 22 employees and were serving more than 1,700 patients a year.
After half a century of service, on October 20, 1960, the Sisters announced that Sacred Heart Hospital would close due to an aging building, lack of space and costs of repair. Support from the community encouraged the Sisters to stay, so a new location was selected and Providence Hospital was built on the corner of McAndrews and Crater Lake Avenue in 1966.
In the mid-1970s, the hospital expanded to include more patient rooms and services. That growth to enhance patient care continues 100 years later, as well as the unwavering commitment to serve our community’s most vulnerable people.
Today, Providence Medford Medical Center has more than 1,200 employees, making us one of the largest employers in the region. And each year, our employees provide our patients with exceptional care during more than 309,000 patient visits. We continue to enhance our services by offering the latest diagnostic and treatment technology available for heart care, cancer, vascular, spine and orthopedic surgery.
As the largest provider of health services in the region, including 11 specialty physician groups, the care teams of Providence Medford Medical Center offer the clinical excellence that only comes with 100 years of experience.