Four decades of healing
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.
A Slow Start
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.
Growth and Modernization
Demand for medical services quickly outgrew the initial facility. A series of expansions and improvements soon would begin:
-- The first major expansion is a three-story north tower addition. The $4.8 million, 32-bed addition includes the laboratory, radiology, and loading dock.
-- The original construction bonds are paid off 15 years early.
- A $1.4 million general facelift begins.
- Installation of the first mobile MRI on campus is completed.
-- ICU expansion and remodeling is completed.
-- The newly constructed Radiation Therapy Center begins treating cancer patients.
-- Investment in new technologies includes an integrated computer system.
-- A state-of-the-art CT scanner enhances medical imaging.
-- The hospital begins offering mammography and stereotactic breast biopsy services.
- A $1 million angiography suite opens.
-- A newly remodeled psychiatric services facility opens.
- New access roads are constructed.
- The hospital’s first website is unveiled.
-- A $20 million investment yields more than 40,000 square feet of additional space, along with remodeling of another 23,000 square feet, and $6 million in technology upgrades. The latter include a $1.5 million linear accelerator for radiation therapy. Other new facilities include emergency, admitting, magnetic resonance imaging, maternity services, surgical suites, short stay, and laundry.
- The William M. Massey Memorial Garden is constructed, featuring a sculpture of three children playing in a fountain.
- The Sleep Center opens.
-- Major remodeling projects are completed, including the cafeteria, conference rooms, orthopedic unit, and the second phase of the laboratory.
-- The hospital adds outpatient psychiatric services.
-- New facilities are completed for Rehabilitation Services and equipment storage.
-- South Coast Radiology joins the Bay Area Hospital family. In 2010 it becomes the Women’s Imaging Center. The new center, at 2650 N. 17th St., is the largest outpatient imaging center on the southern Oregon coast.
-- An expansion ushers in the “Hospital of the Future.” The new four-story wing offers all private rooms. Other improvements include a new Intensive Care Unit, and cardiovascular services including a cardiac catheterization lab.
- Acquisition of a surgical robot brings the hospital to the forefront of minimally invasive surgery.
- The hospital assumes leadership of the Child Abuse Intervention Center, renaming it the Kids’ Hope Center.
-- The fourth floor of the new wing, initially left vacant, is completed to provide additional patient care space.
- The Prefontaine Cardiovascular Center is dedicated.
- A newly constructed Wound Care Center begins offering hyperbaric therapy.
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.