Created and owned by local citizens, Bay Area Hospital has been the hub of South Coast health care for more than four decades. It has endured and grown despite hard economic times, continually adding new technology and broadening its services.
The hospital remains strong through sound fiscal management, dedicated board members, professional employees, a highly qualified medical staff, caring volunteers, and the community’s continuing support. The hospital takes pride that no public taxes or bonds are required to support its $130 million operating budget.
Local voters formed the Bay Area Health District in 1952, encompassing most of Coos County. But more than 20 years and two more elections would be needed before Bay Area Hospital opened its doors.
The health district's Board of Directors voted in 1970 to build a new medical facility, replacing two older hospitals in North Bend and Coos Bay. Voters agreed, passing a $6.75 million bond levy.
Less than two years later, a group of citizens tried to stop the hospital construction. A special election was called for February 1972, and voters affirmed the construction plan. A groundbreaking ceremony was held in April of that year.
An estimated 8,000 visitors attended the hospital’s dedication ceremony in 1974. The completed 140-bed hospital opened its doors on May 19, 1974, admitting its first 54 patients from Memorial and McAuley hospitals. That same month, 27 physicians opened local practices.
Demand for medical services quickly outgrew the initial facility. A series of expansions and improvements soon would begin:
Even before there was a Bay Area Hospital, there was a Bay Area Hospital Auxiliary. The group organized in 1972 to provide volunteer workers for the future hospital.
Today the Auxiliary has about 75 active members, identifiable by their royal blue jackets. They greet visitors at an information desk, run the hospital gift shop, organize fundraisers and escort patients to medical appointments.
Over the years, Auxiliary members have donated more than 900,000 hours and raised nearly $1 million for the hospital.
In addition to the Auxiliary, a youth volunteer program exposes high school students to the health-care field. Another program recruits community musicians to perform in the hospital lobby.
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