Caring for Generations
The Early Years | 1905 – 1939
1905 There were no hospitals or emergency facilities of any kind anywhere on the Peninsula between San Francisco and Palo Alto. In the wake of the 1906 earthquake, the need for medical facilities was clear; many people who fled the flames of San Francisco found the countryside of San Mateo County inviting and the population experienced a boom.
Recognizing the need, heiress and philanthropist Elisabeth Mills Reid – with the rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew, Rev. Neptune Blood William Gallwey, and an ambitious young doctor named W.C. Chidester – pledged funds to build and operate on the Church of St. Matthew property an emergency medical facility that would also house a parish nurse.
1907 The planned modest facility quickly expanded to a small hospital which was dedicated in 1907 by the Rev. William Ford Nichols, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, to "meet the needs of suffering humanity, irrespective of religious or racial affiliations."
1909 The six-patient facility, which included surgery and maternity rooms, was staffed by three nurses – one served as both head nurse and surgical nurse and the two others rotated 12-hour shifts. Its name was Church of St. Matthew Red Cross Guild – although it had no formal connection with the church or the Red Cross.
By February, the facility had expanded to accommodate 24 patients with 24 nurses employed. The nurses' combined salaries totaled $5,315.50 for the first year.
The general medical list included everything from alcoholism to tuberculosis, as well as two typhoid patients, 13 pneumonia cases, one of malaria, one of morphomania, and one poor soul who went down in the permanent hospital record as suffering from "malingering."
In the mid-1910's, Mrs. Reid was convinced by the Board of Directors that the name of the hospital should be changed to Mills Memorial Hospital, although Mrs. Reid saw to it that Church of St. Matthew preceded the new name.
Through the 1920s, additions such as X-ray machines and expansion and improvement in the emergency room were made, staff added, and private duty nurses were used for at-home care.
1928 The East Wing was built, adding 124 beds and a 28-bed maternity section.
An annual report from the mid-1920s shows hospital receipts of $96,837 and operating expenses of $107,413 while the annual report of 1910 shows $26,514 in operating expenses.
In War and Peace | 1940 – 1979
In 1947, Robert J. Koshland was appointed a Director of the Peninsula Hospital District, which was given the task of developing and opening a new hospital in San Mateo County. Mr. Koshland was unanimously elected Board President, a position he held for 16 years. He was one of the foremost experts on hospital financing and policy in the nation. Mr. Koshland retired in 1963, leaving Peninsula as the largest hospital in San Mateo County.
1950 Mills Hospital was again expanded, this time with the addition of the West Wing, bringing the total number of beds to 151. But for the burgeoning communities of San Mateo County in the post-war boom, one hospital in one city did not meet the demand for quality health care.
1954 On March 2, Peninsula Hospital opened in Burlingame. After two and half years of construction, Peninsula opened with 153 beds, 275 employees, 400 Auxilians, 100 physicians and surgeon staff members. Peninsula Hospital was built on the former site of Elisabeth Mills Reid's family home, the Mills Mansion, for which Millbrae was named.
The average cost of stay in a four-bed ward was $17.50 per day, a two-bed room was $18.50 per day, and a private room was $25 a day.
One of the first employees hired by Peninsula Hospital was chief seamstress Evelyn Steele, who sewed 5,000 articles for the hospital use from 2,400 yards of material. She made sheets, patient gowns, Auxiliary uniforms, smocks, drapes, cubical curtains and 390 doubled-stitched surgical leggings.
To be ready for the first patients, the laundry facility – using a washer that could handle up to 350 pounds – washed 710 dozen sheets, pillow slips, towels, wash cloths, bathmats and other items and then rewashed them all five more times to eliminate any lint.
1960 The 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th floors were added, bringing the bed total to 374.
Peninsula Hospital changed its name to Peninsula Hospital and Medical Center.
1978 Peninsula affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco to establish a Cardiovascular Surgery program at the hospital.
1979 Peninsula celebrated its 25–year anniversary and signed a joint planning agreement with Mills Memorial Hospital.
The Perfect Union 1980 – 2007
In 1985 Mills and Peninsula signed a merger agreement to form Mills-Peninsula Hospitals, and embarked on the planning that would carry their commitment to the best in community health care into the 21st century.
1993 Senior Focus Wellness Center opened in downtown San Mateo.
1996 Peninsula campus became Mills-Peninsula Medical Center and inpatient care was consolidated there. The Mills campus became the Mills Health Center, a comprehensive outpatient care center.
The Mack E. Mickelson Arthritis and Rehabilitation Center opened at the Health Center in San Mateo.
Family Birth Center opened at the Medical Center in Burlingame.
Mills-Peninsula joined Sutter Health, a not-for-profit system of 27 hospitals in Northern and Central California.
1997 The expanded Emergency Department at the Medical Center opened in Burlingame. The Wellness Center moved to the Health Center Campus in San Mateo.
1998 The Primary Care Doctors' Office for Seniors opened in San Carlos.
Newly remodeled Inpatient Rehabilitation Unit opened at the Health Center in San Mateo.
New, expanded Outpatient Surgery Center opened at the Health Center in San Mateo.