Lourdes marks 100 years in Washington

January 15, 2017

Six Sisters of St. Joseph traveled from Lewiston, Iowa, to the frontier town of Pasco, Wash., via the Northern Pacific Railroad in the summer of 1916 to address the medical needs of people in southern Washington's Mid-Columbia region, which at the time had no hospital.

Together with Pasco physicians and citizens, the sisters established Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in leased space in a two-story hotel that community volunteers transformed into a hospital. Businesses helped furnish the rooms. Physicians donated $500 worth of medical equipment and their wives raised $182 in donations. The broader Pasco community contributed an additional $800. Women from Pasco pitched in to scrub down the hotel, set up beds and prepare for the Sept. 24 opening.

The hotel had no elevator, according to a history booklet from what is now Lourdes Medical Center. That booklet said, "To move a patient from surgery on the second floor down to a room required easing a stretcher down a crooked, narrow staircase. The sisters were known to go out on the street and call for strong men to help carry patients down that staircase."

When the 1918 flu epidemic led to overcrowding in the hospital, a drive was started for a new facility, according to Lourdes information. The Northern Pacific Railroad donated land and the replacement critical care hospital opened in mid-1921. The campus expanded in ensuing years.

Today, Lourdes Medical Center is part of Lourdes Health, a network comprised of the critical access hospital, an inpatient rehabilitation unit, medical office building, counseling center, occupational health center and clinic network. It also includes an inpatient behavioral health hospital in Richland, Wash., about 10 miles outside of Pasco.

St. Louis-based Ascension is in the process of selling Lourdes Health and St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho, to RCCH HealthCare Partners. In 2015, Ascension announced plans to sell the two regional health care systems to Capella Healthcare, a for-profit based in Franklin, Tenn. In April of 2016, Capella and RegionalCare Hospital Partners merged to become RCCH HealthCare Partners based in Brentwood, Tenn.


Copyright © 2017 by the Catholic Health Association of the United States
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