Providence Milwaukie Hospital, beginning as Dwyer Memorial Hospital, is celebrating 50 years of its mission to care for all people, with special concern for the poor and vulnerable.
During its 50 years of service, the hospital has welcomed nearly 10,000 babies into the community, treated hundreds of thousands of patients in its Emergency Department, and provided acute medical care, surgeries and critical care services. As one of the city of Milwaukie's largest employers, the hospital offers living-wage jobs to more than 500 people.
Robert F. Dwyer Sr., son of the founder of the Dwyer Lumber Co., had the vision to build a community hospital so Milwaukie and area residents could feel confident that their own doctors, nurses and community members could care for their medical needs close to home. That vision led to the 35,000-square-foot Dwyer Memorial Hospital opening July 22, 1968, at a cost of $1.5 million.
The hospital was built as a memorial to A. J. Dwyer, a pioneer Clackamas County lumberman. At the opening ceremonies, Robert Dwyer Sr. said, "Patients will be more than a number, they will be individuals."
Dwyer Memorial Hospital was built as a 70-bed general hospital with 110 employees and a medical staff of 40 Clackamas County and Southeast Portland physicians. In 1971, the North Clackamas Community Hospital nonprofit was formed, and ownership was transferred, but the facility kept its public name of Dwyer Memorial Hospital.
Beginning in May 1980, a $4 million construction project began to update and expand the hospital to 70,000 square feet. This included adding a new in-patient wing, doubling the size of the Emergency Department, and adding nuclear medicine and diagnostic imaging services.
In 1982, to emphasize the community focus for all whom it served, Dwyer Memorial Hospital changed its name to Dwyer Community Hospital and Medical Center.
As the economy changed, it became apparent to hospital leadership that they needed a partner to continue to grow, update equipment and adopt new technology in order to better serve the community. In 1985, the hospital announced that it was accepting affiliation offers.
Eight offers were received and on July 1, 1986, Dwyer Community Hospital became Providence Milwaukie Hospital. According to Bob Vial, the hospital's president, the Sisters of Providence were chosen as the hospital's new partner for two reasons — a kinship with the Sisters' compassionate health care philosophy and commitment to quality, and their strong business, organizational history and market presence.
In 1987, the Providence Milwaukie Foundation was established with Leslie Peake as its first chair. The foundation continues to thrive and currently supports numerous programs including Community Health in Motion, which offers basic primary and preventive health care for children and adults including immunization clinics, basic health screenings, youth sports physicals, fall prevention clinics and nutrition services.
The foundation also supports the Community Teaching Kitchen, which works to create a healthier community through one-on-one out-patient nutrition counseling, regular screening for food insecurity, and access to a navigator for individualized resources and hands-on cooking classes.
Over the past two decades, the hospital has added new surgical suites and a 20-bed Emergency Department. In 2002, the Providence Milwaukie Healing Place opened in a 42,000-square-foot, three-story medical office building.
In 2012, the Providence Employee Garden of Giving was established on a vacant lot adjacent to the hospital. The garden now includes more than 40 raised vegetables beds, berry bushes and fruit trees bearing more than 2 tons of fresh food annually that is donated to local partners of the Oregon Food Bank. In addition, the garden has been the grateful recipient of several Boy Scout Eagle projects.
The Providence Milwaukie Family Medicine Residency program was established in 2001 and in June 2018 graduated its 100th family medicine provider — 25 percent of all physicians trained in Oregon during this time.
Recognition over the years include three times being named one of the 100 Top Hospitals in the Pacific Northwest by Solucient Inc., twice named Large Business of the Year by North Clackamas Chamber of Commerce, and named a Joint Commission Top Performer in key quality measures for heart failure, pneumonia, and surgical care.
For five years running, the hospital has received the Greenhealth Partner for Change Award from Practice Greenhealth for significant achievement in building a more environmentally sustainable organization.
Responding to a need at the time, Providence Milwaukie Hospital became equipped in 2014 to accept a patient for observation and testing to rule out ebola. Working with local health officials, the patient was admitted to the hospital. After three days of intense care, the patient was diagnosed with malaria.
The Senior Psychiatric Unit at Providence Milwaukie Hospital recently was founded to provide compassionate crisis intervention and stabilization, offering short-term in-patient psychiatric care for patients typically 65 and older.
In 2017, Providence Milwaukie Hospital provided more than $13.7 million in community benefits, which includes the difference between the cost of care and what is paid for by the state and federal government for Medicaid and Medicare, free/low-cost care and community health services.