White Memorial Medical Center Celebrating 100 Years of Faith & Healing
February 25, 2013
Los Angeles ,CA
WHITE MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER
CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF FAITH & HEALING
LOS ANGELES, CA – February 25, 2013 – White Memorial Medical Center (WMMC), one of Southern California’s finest hospitals, began serving Los Angeles residents in September 1913. Today, located just east of downtown Los Angeles, WMMC is an award-winning 353-bed acute care community and teaching hospital, staffed by 462 physicians, 86 residents, 1,879 employees and nearly 700 volunteers. Looking back at its history, it has so much to celebrate.
The hospital had a humble beginning. When WMMC first opened its doors 100 years ago, it was just a small medical clinic, on 1st Street, equipped with secondhand medical instruments and medical students with just two years of theoretical classroom education. Founded as a teaching hospital, by what is known today as Loma Linda University the students were just beginning to examine real patients. The fledgling Seventh-day Adventist clinic offered the exams for free to local residents.
Named after Ellen G. White, the hospital is a living tribute to one of the Adventist leader’s who had the dream of integrating healing, healthy-living and whole-person care. Her vision for medical excellence and Christian service has guided White Memorial Medical Center on its epic, 100-year journey of faith and healing. During the past 100 years, WMMC has been shaken by earthquakes, hit by economic crisis, weathered two world wars and a shift in the population it serves. Not only has it survived – it has flourished.
“White Memorial has a fierce determination to face obstacles, a love for serving its community and a faith in the divine role in healing and in advancing the mission of the hospital,” says Beth Zachary, WMMC President and CEO. “I’m confident that the shoulders we stand on are strong enough to take us through whatever the future holds –as long as we remain true to our mission and values.”
“Our faith and vision have brought us through numerous crisis and changes for 100 years and we will continue our excellent service for decades to come,” said Zachary.
WMMC was founded by early Seventh-day Adventist pioneers, who believed, and still believe, that health and wellness was achieved through proper nutrition, sunlight, fresh air, water, exercise and trust in divine power. These principles may seem simple now, but back then when tobacco was prescribed for lung conditions and bathing was thought to cause disease, they were revolutionary.
In 1909, the College of Medical Evangelists, a new medical school that had recently opened in Loma Linda, California, was told by the American Medical Association that it must provide greater numbers of patients for clinical training. This requirement led to the initial storefront clinic that became a new hospital in 1918. WMMC was then just a cluster of single-story buildings.
Countless stories help tell the history of WMMC and how faith has played an important role in its development. In 1915, Dr. Percy Magan left a prestigious teaching post and practice and accepted the position as new director of medical education at the still small clinic where he had to raise his own salary of just $23 per week. Soon after his arrival, he found a nearby property where the one-room clinic could expand. There were only enough funds to pay for half the property, so without fanfare or recognition, he bought the other half with his own money, believing that God’s plan couldn’t be confined to half a city block.
The hospital grew and nearly doubled its capacity, expanding from 59 beds to 94 beds after receiving a $30,000 contribution from philanthropist Josie Phillips in 1922.
Another story demonstrates White Memorial’s deep and abiding respect for people. During World War II, local Japanese and Japanese American residents living near the hospital were forced to relocate into internment camps. A nearby Japanese hospital asked WMMC to operate their hospital while they were away. Without hesitation, White Memorial assumed management of the hospital and when the Japanese were freed, gave back the keys. WMMC has always been there to assist the community. Its dedicated staff of physicians, leaders, board members, donors, volunteers and neighbors have provided 10 decades of service.
The hospital has always had a spirit of optimism about the future even as it faced wars, earthquakes, depression, financial crisis and other difficulties.
The mission states “As a Seventh-day Adventist medical center, we are a family of caring professionals serving our community with a passion for excellence, a spirit of Christian service, and a commitment to medical education.” Those working at WMMC share a common bond of Christian helpfulness and a commitment to medical education.
Medical practitioners provide whole-person care based on the healing ministry of Jesus—which centers around physical, mental and spiritual healing. Each patient is seen as a valued child of God, which centers doctors, nurses, hospital staff and volunteers around a heart-felt mission to provide a positive, compassionate healing environment and extraordinary patient care.
WMMC was faced with a crisis in 1930 when the Great Depression hit. The hospital began allowing patients to pay for services with eggs, flour, sugar or other household goods. During this challenging period, medical students worked as janitors for free, and nurses made free home visits. Together, strong in their faith, they survived the economic crisis.
By 1937, WMMC opened in a new building—the first fire resistant hospital in the entire state. The hospital expanded again in 1950, adding a new wing that doubled the number of beds, and added a radiation laboratory, electro-encephalography unit, psychiatric ward and complete emergency facilities.
The hospital has attracted innovative physicians. In 1960, Dr. J. Wayne McFarland, who had completed his residency at WMMC, created the Five-Day Plan to Stop Smoking – a common sense program to help people kick the smoking habit.
The hospital was flourishing, and in 1968, a $4.2 million Diagnostic and Treatment Center (now known as the North Building) opened its doors. However, WMMC still faced other challenges and in the 1980s, the hospital was in financial trouble. The cost of health care was rising steadily and many patients lacked health insurance and did not have the ability to pay. WMMC was forced to cut services and even considered selling the hospital. However, the hand of God brought about a series of events that turned things around.
Just when they were in dire need, a Senate Bill miraculously came along that alleviated some of their problems. SB 855 was designed to help hospitals that served a critical role in caring for more than their share of the underserved. A last-minute revision allowed WMMC, and other similar hospitals to qualify for funds and suddenly, the hospital’s future looked brighter.
In 2010, WMMC completed a $250 million project to rebuild much of the hospital – made possible in part by $89 million in FEMA funding for seismic upgrades and $30 million in community support. The hospital now has a new eight-story tower, the crowning structure of the expansive and rebuilt medical campus.
All Adventist Health facilities, including WMMC, follow the same health philosophy. And, today, science is beginning to recognize the connection between the physical, mental and spiritual health.
A 28-year study of 5,000 patients in 1997 (Strawbridge, Cohen, Shema and Kaplan) found that weekly attendance of religious services decreased the risk of death during the follow-up period by 36 percent. These results were replicated in a second study of 3,968 adults over six years (Koenig et al., 1999).
Today, WMMC teaches physicians, nurses and health care workers—but also provides patients and community members with education on how to improve their health. Along with taking care of the physical health of the community, White Memorial has many programs to assist local residents in learning more about taking care of their own health needs. With an economic impact of $937 million each year, WMMC serves as a beacon of community pride in the underserved Latino neighborhood where it is located. The hospital also works to prevent gangs and to help young people leave gangs.
Their reach is international. In addition to launching countless missionary doctors and sponsoring medical mission teams around the world, WMMC sends supplies to its adopted sister hospital in Zambia, Africa. The hospital also launched the Loma Linda University International Heart Team. With the advent of open heart surgery in 1955, it was doctors from WMMC who not only fine-tuned the technique, but also developed a mobile surgery center used to perform the life-saving operation worldwide.
Keeping communities healthy has been the mission of White Memorial Medical Center ever since the hospital was founded by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1913.
Today, White Memorial is one of the region's leading not-for-profit hospitals. Services include behavioral medicine, diabetes care, cardiac and vascular care, intensive and general medical care, oncology, orthopedic care, rehabilitation, specialized and general surgery, stoke care and women’s and children’s services. The hospital serves more than 126,000 patients each year.
As a major teaching hospital, White Memorial plays an important role in training physicians, nurses and other medical professionals. Located in East Los Angeles, a working-class primarily Latino neighborhood, WMMC’s innovative Family Medicine Residency trains doctors to care for the underserved and meet the special medical needs of Latinos – a unique training program in the United States.
The hospital has served local families for generations and is an active part of the community. WMMC is an employer of choice for the communities it serves.
In 2012, US News & World Report recently ranked WMMC #12 of the 32 top-rated hospitals in the Los Angeles metro area and #20 of the 41 strong-performing hospitals in California.
White Memorial Medical Center is celebrating its Centennial year with a series of events throughout the year. For more information, visit our Centennial website: www.whitememorial.com/Centennial.
White Memorial Medical Center is part of Adventist Health, a faith-based, not-for-profit integrated health care delivery system serving communities in California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington. Our workforce of 28,700 includes more than 21,000 employees; 4,500 medical staff physicians; and 3,000 volunteers. Founded on Seventh-day Adventist Health Values, Adventist Health provides compassionate care in 19 hospitals, more than 150 Clinics (hospital-based, rural health and physician clinics), 14 home care agencies, six hospice agencies and four joint-venture retirement centers. Visit www.AdventistHealth.org for more information.