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Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center Celebrates 75 Years

Feature Article

The Birth of a Hospital – Good Samaritan Hospital, 1948

Placement of photos in the vestibule and door logos marking Good Samaritan’s 75th anniversary kicks off a year-long celebration recognizing the hospital’s birth as a non-profit organization.

Throughout the year there will be events, activities and displays to highlight this achievement. In the months to come we will also share historical hospital moments, photos and interviews from current and past staff members in our virtual pages of Well Informed.

Good Samaritan Hospital’s birth is traced back to 1948. The actual day in 1948 can be debated. For instance, June 30 of that year, Corvallis General Hospital deeded the mortgage to Good Samaritan Hospital. There was a signing ceremony on the hospital front steps on July 20 and then on August 5 the deed was officially recorded with Benton County.

What we do know is community leaders, including T.J. Starker and Rev. Charles Neville, rescued a bankrupt for-profit Corvallis General Hospital and with the aid of the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon, planted the cornerstone of Samaritan’s legacy creating a hospital that was open to everyone.

The hospital, at this time, was located on N.W. Harrison and 27th streets. The building was described in historical articles as “run down, having a poor design and inadequate equipment,” reflecting the wake of decades of capital neglect and fiscal mismanagement.

One of the design flaws, which was relayed in an article by Jean Starker Roth, was the emergency room — accessible only by a steep wooden staircase. In that memory, shared in Samaritan’s 50 years of healing anniversary book, Starker Roth recalled watching her husband Kermit be lifted up those stairs after a vehicle accident. “It was quite a traumatic experience,” she said.

The for-profit hospital had been around since 1922. Part of the process of Good Samaritan’s birth into non-profit status included convincing all 125 bond holders to either donate or sell their hospital shares. The local Lions Club began a drive to collect the donated bonds, however an opposing faction attempted to buy the outstanding bonds. In the end, one outstanding bond remained and a committee was formed to raise $22,000 to purchase the lone holdout.

The next step was an audience with legislators at the state capitol where Starker and Neville “took care of legal matters associated with the transfer.” After that meeting, the duo gathered with the Oregon Hospital Association where they declared, “We would never turn a patient away that needed hospital care at Good Samarian Hospital in Corvallis.”

Within two years the non-profit hospital chose their head nurse, Virginia Welch, to lead them as Good Samaritan Hospital’s first administrator. A community wide fundraising campaign was launched to bring the derelict building up to standards of the day.

Watch for more articles about Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center as we continue to celebrate its 75 years of service to the mid-Willamette Valley. 

Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center under construction in the early 1970s.

Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center was constructed at its present location in 1972.