Whittier Hospital Medical Center marks 60th anniversary

Sixty years ago this week, Whittier Hospital Medical Center opened its doors.

On Wednesday the 178-bed acute care hospital celebrated the anniversary with a special luncheon for its employees and administration, with some of them reminiscing about their time at the facility.

“This landmark occasion is only possible because of the hard work of our employees,” CEO Rick Castro said.

“The community has changed greatly over 60 years, as has the hospital, but the one thing that has stayed constant is the dedication and compassion of the employees and medical staff members entrusted with making patients’ hospital stays as comfortable and pleasant as possible.”

The hospital’s founder, Dr. Lester Morrison, saw a need in the community after an increase in the city’s population, officials said.

In 1962, the hospital started with 52 beds and about 125 physicians.

In 1965, the medical center expanded to 99 beds and added an Intensive Care Unit. Whittier Hospital today has 500 physicians representing 40 specialties and a full-service emergency department that serves more than 32,000 patients annually.

The hospital was bought by AHMC Healthcare Inc. along with three other hospitals — Garfield Medical Center, Monterey Park Hospital and Greater El Monte Community Hospital — in November 2004.

Jeffrey Eddings, a CAT scan technologist, has been at the hospital for 28 years. He said he enjoyed the atmosphere and camaraderie at the medical center.

“This is a small community hospital and even though it’s a cliche, we really are one big, happy family,” he said.

“We make our patients feel comfortable,” said Eddings, whose wife, Patricia Eddings, has been a social worker at the hospital for 17 years. “A lot of them have said they are afraid of hospitals, have never been a patient at a hospital, but we made them feel comfortable.”

ICU nurse Marabel De Jesus, who earned a nursing degree in her native Philippines before coming to the United States in 1981, said the community of the hospital was its key to success.

“This hospital is very family-friendly,” she said. “We not only care for our patients but their loved ones.”

She also said hospital management helps keep up morale of the staff.

“The administration is very considerate of our needs, very flexible with scheduling.,” De Jesus explained.

The range of services include a pediatric sub-acute unit, surgery department, ER, cardiology, diagnostics services, vascular medicine, wound care services, perinatal services, women’s and maternity services and other programs.

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