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Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center Celebrates 75 Years

Feature Article

Patients Moved to the New Hospital in a Matter of Hours

The move started in the early hours of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1975. Preparation and 18 months of planning paid off – the move went perfectly with 77 patients transferred to the new Good Samaritan Hospital.

Ten Oregon Army National Guard ambulances, two city of Corvallis ambulances, an ambulance on loan from Newport and one from Eugene along with 40 personnel from the National Guard participated in the move.

The Oregon National Guard helped Samaritan in its move to the new hospital in 1975.

An Oregon Army National Guard soldier prepares stretchers while waiting for ambulances during the 1975 move.

The Oregon Army National Guard assisted in the move, Gaskill hand drew maps for each driver to find his way to the new hospital.

Oregon Army National Guard soldiers move a patient out of the old hospital during the Sunday morning move.

Nurses pack moving boxes for the 1975 move to the new hospital at its present location.

Hospital staff box up items in preparation.

One of many trucks that were loaded during the move from the old hospital to the new one in 1975.

Workers load up a moving van at the old hospital site.

To find the hospital, maps with the route were hand drawn by Toni Rae Gaskill in the registrar’s office and given to ambulance crews from out of town agencies and the National Guard.

Six of the patients were babies. Nurse Carol Carter, who retired in 2002, remembers riding in one of the ambulances with a newborn wrapped in blankets. No expectant mothers were in labor with the last baby, a girl, being born at the old hospital the night before.

“The toughest to move was a guy in skeletal traction,” said hospital administrator James Mol during an interview that day. “The traction unit was so large he had to be moved in a van.”

Clifford Hall, MD, also interviewed the day of the move, believed that a patient with a lung disease was the hardest to move. She had to be given artificial respiration to keep her breathing as she was moved from a respiration machine in the hospital to one in an ambulance sent up from Eugene.

Corvallis had been growing, as was Oregon State University, and space was a premium around the hospital located on Harrison Street. A consultant determined they needed a new location.

In 1969 land was purchased, and by 1973 a new hospital started taking shape north of town.

The moving committee discussed the impending move to the new hospital.  Dr. Charles Terhune, left, Bob Hutchinson, Peggy DuBois, Janet Natividad and Kay Ball.

The moving committee discuss the impending move. From left to right: Dr. Charles Terhune, Bob Hutchinson, Peggy DuBois, Janet Natividad and Kay Ball.

“We wanted to have an up-to-date Intensive Care Unit and Coronary Care Unit for sure,” said James Riley, MD, during an interview for the 50th anniversary book. “The people in Obstetrics and Gynecology wanted modern means of taking care of obstetrical patients. Also important was accessibility for ambulances and emergency vehicles.”

“We had all helped with the architects designing it,” said Carter. “It’s changed about 10 times since then, but we knew we’d be on the fourth floor.”

Emergency Department charge nurse Cindy Roler, who has the honor of Good Sam’s longest current employee, remembers the night and day transition from the old dark units to the new modern hospital bright units which were smaller and nurses’ stations with views of all rooms on the unit.

“I think the whole thing was positive in terms of what we were going to get, but a little anxious about whether or not we were going to get it all together in time,” said Roler.

Another current employee who was helped move the hospital is Jim Hutchinson. Jim’s father Bob was Good Samaritan’s chief financial officer at the time of the move. Jim had spent several family outings peering through the construction fence as his father checked the progress.

“I got hired as just a temporary to actually initiate the move,” said Hutchinson who is the hospital’s lead storekeeper. “It was basically a massive evacuation across town. But my job was to go from room to room and pack things up and get them on the carts and get them out to the trucks at the new hospital.”

When the move was complete the next challenge was not to get lost in the facility. However, the benefits outweighed any negatives.

“We were all thrilled because we heard that there were bathrooms in every room,” said Katie Barker, RN, who was a brand-new nurse as the old hospital was closing down.

Barker was with the final group of babies transferred to the fourth floor of the new hospital.

“It was so upscale,” said Barker. “Everybody was so happy.”

Balloon launch festivities for the opening of the 'new' hospital in 1975.

Students join in a dedication celebration by launching balloons over the hospital in construction.

Residents line up for a public tour before the hospital opened in 1975.

Local residents line up for a public tour before the hospital opened.

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