Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center celebrates 80 years

In honor of our 80th anniversary, we invite you to take a look back at historic photos, major milestones and significant events from the past eight decades at our hospital.

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center opened on February 1, 1944. 

What began as a single story, 100-bed hospital, is today a renowned medical center offering distinguished care in many specialties with inpatient, outpatient and emergency services. 

One thing that has not changed over the past eight decades is our commitment to offering world-class, compassionate care to our community. This would not be possible without the dedication of our 2,100 caregivers, 800+ physicians and 200 volunteers who live our Mission every day, to care for the poor and vulnerable, and exemplify our values of Compassion, Dignity, Justice, Excellence and Integrity.

We look forward to continuing this legacy for many more decades to come.

Our founding.

In 1942, recognizing that the growing population of the San Fernando Valley needed reliable health care, two local doctors requested the Catholic Church’s help in establishing the Valley's first hospital. The Church turned to the Sisters of Providence who accepted the challenge to build and operate a facility in Burbank. 

Lockheed helped secure a federal grant and donated 11 acres across the street from Walt Disney Studios as a site for the new hospital, which the Sisters named in honor of Saint Joseph. 

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in February 1943, and a dedication ceremony — attended by more than 3,000 people — was held in November 1943.

Sisters of Providence circa 1940s, Burbank.

Sisters of Providence circa 1940s, Burbank.

February 1, 1944. Our first patient.

St. Joseph Hospital, as we were then known, was scheduled to open at 8 a.m. When an expectant mother in labor showed up two and a half hours early, administrator Sister Flora Mary and Dr. Carl Land admitted her so the baby could be delivered safely.

Every decade has seen an expansion project at Saint Joseph.

The number of San Fernando Valley residents increased by nearly 40% from 1944 to 1953. The hospital needed to expand to continue to meet the region's growing health care needs. 

With support from the community, in 1953, the five-story, 100-bed East Wing opened — with three floors devoted to maternity services!

Supporters have always included major companies like Lockheed and Universal, as well as celebrities such as Walt Disney and Bob Hope. But individual residents have donated generously, as well.

11-year-old paper boy Michael Adams donated $1.10 from his earnings
to help with the construction of a new East Wing in 1953.

Walt Disney wielded a shovel at the groundbreaking for a new $6 million, six-story West Wing in 1961.

Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel takes shape in July 1962.

St. Joseph Hospital becomes Saint Joseph Medical Center.

In 1971, the hospital's name was changed to Saint Joseph Medical Center to better reflect the facility's increased size and services. 

Two years later, Saint Joseph Medical Center became the first hospital in California to hire a group of physicians — Burbank Emergency Medical Group — to exclusively provide emergency care. 

In 1976, Saint Joseph became the first hospital in the eastern Valley to receive paramedic base station status. 

In the spirit of our Founding Sisters, in the 1990s the Medical Center forged ahead with its synergistic partnership with the community.

The North Tower was opened, and nine Sisters of Providence still continued their ministry.

Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center circa 1980.

In the 2000s, the world was introduced to Twitter, Facebook and the iPhone. It was a time of rapid change, and that is true for our ministry, as well. These are the changes we saw during this decade: 

- Saint Joseph Medical Center became Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. 

- The Northeast Tower was added.

- The Healing Garden and Labyrinth replaced the Center/West Wing.

- The Bob Hope Conference Center replaced the auditorium.

- Our Lady of Sorrows Chapel was renovated to reflect the religious diversity of staff, patients and visitors.

The Northeast Tower under construction in 2003.

The Roy and Patricia Disney Family Cancer Center opened in 2010 as the first outpatient comprehensive cancer center in the San Fernando Valley. Today, through our Genetics program, the Disney Cancer Center is leading the way in multi-cancer early detection (MCED) testing.

The Hycy and Howard Hill Neuroscience Institute opened in 2011. The institute became the first comprehensive center in the San Fernando Valley to focus on neuroscience and allow doctors to treat neurological disorders in one location. Providence Saint Joseph is also a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, providing the highest level of stroke care.

The first days of COVID-19.

2020 was a year like no other for health care professionals around the world as the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 pandemic. Our community was blessed to have the selfless dedication and expertise of our caregivers during this uncertain time. 

At Providence Saint Joseph, “patient zero” was Gregg Garfield, a local resident who was exposed to COVID-19 in February 2020 on a ski trip in Italy. After a two-month hospital stay, our caregivers gathered to celebrate with him as he walked out our front doors. Garfield returned to Providence Saint Joseph last year on the three-year anniversary of his discharge. 

He said, “I am forever grateful to the staff at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center who fought for my life and helped me make a full recovery."

"Patient Zero" Gregg Garfield was discharged from Providence Saint Joseph
in May 2020 after a two-month hospital stay.

New emergency department opens in 2022 thanks to generous community support.

The Providence Saint Joseph Foundation raised $78 million in order to see this historic project come to life.

The Jaromír Střížka estate named our new Emergency Department and the Cusumano family generously stepped forward to name the building that houses Providence Urgent Care and our Physical Therapy/Occupational Therapy clinic.

The Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros. and NBCUniversal also joined in committing seven-figure gifts, among other prominent community families, as well as foundations including those of Bob and Dolores Hope, Ahmanson and Ralph M. Parsons. Our physicians also came together to make a $1 million commitment.

The Jaromír Střížka Emergency Department, which is nearly three times bigger than the old ED, was blessed and dedicated on Aug. 30, 2022, and officially opened one week later.

Bishop Gerald Wilkerson offered prayers and blessed our new ED
with holy water on August 30, 2022.

In 2023, our community voted Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center the best hospital in the San Fernando Valley/Ventura.

We continue to be blessed by our supportive community and the caregivers who make all of this possible.

Thank you to our community for voting
Providence Saint Joseph the Best in the Valley.


About the Author

The Providence News Team brings you the updates to keep you informed about what's happening across the organizational ecosystem. From partnerships to new doctor announcements, we are committed to keeping you informed.

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