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During Yakima's frontier days, the newly completed Union Pacific Railroad allowed immigrants to travel and settle out west in this raw, fertile valley. As the population grew, disease also increased. The U.S. Reclamation Service made a request to the Sisters of Providence, originally from Montreal, Quebec, to undertake the care of the sick and poor in the community as well as government employees. After asking for donations, the sisters raised $447 to start a hospital.
In August 1891, the four founding Sisters of Providence labored to turn a seven-room house into a hospital for the town on the corner of Naches and Yakima Avenue. This first hospital in the Yakima Valley was named after St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the patron saint of nursing and charity. Despite its small and humble beginnings, St. Elizabeth's hospital provided a true refuge for the sick and poor. No case of illness, regardless of how sick or needy the individual, was refused care. The sisters believed that even though quarters were cramped, there was always room for one more. They had 37 patients that first year. A year later in August of 1892, the Sisters moved their patients to a new two-story frame building on the corner of Fourth and E streets. In 1902, two new wings were added to the main building, making room for an operating room, new sterilization equipment and a bed capacity of 65. the St. Elizabeth School of Nursing was established with seven young women students, housed in the attic of the hospital. The present hospital building on Ninth Avenue was opened Feb. 1, 1914.
St. Elizabeth's continued to care for the people of Yakima through the city's growth and development. It also responded to the needs and struggles of the community during World War I, influenza epidemics and the economic depression. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the sisters set up a soup kitchen outside the hospital to feed those in need, the homeless and the jobless, depleting their bank account to 68 cents.
With each new decade came advancements in technology as well as the ongoing challenge to stretch the limited resources to meet the community's needs. However, with each new challenge and throughout its history, St. Elizabeth's hospital fulfilled its mission of "working with others in the spirit of loving service." The hospital continued to grow and develop over the years, adding on to the building and campus to meet the needs of new services and technology.
On Sept. 1, 2017, the hospital became a part of Astria Health as a nonprofit hospital, including Astria Heart Institute on October 17, 2018. It was renamed Astria Regional Medical Center.
Astria Sunnyside Hospital has come a long way in its 70-year history.
In 1946, World War II had ended the year before, and Sunnyside had grown to a population of 2,600 people. It was felt that a hospital was needed closer than Yakima, so Valley Memorial Hospital was built, with 9,400 sq. ft. There was a staff of 10 to start with, including one doctor and two RNs. The new hospital had seven private rooms and four semiprivate rooms, and was located at 10th and Tacoma avenues, right where we are today.
In 1962, local osteopathic physicians came together to build a Lower Valley facility for their patients, who, until that time, had to travel to Yakima to receive hospital services. The new facility was named Sunnyside General Hospital and featured 20 patient beds. It was built in Sunnyside because it was felt to be the most central location in the Lower Valley for the osteopathic physicians' patients. This was a time when MDs and DOs wouldn't work together.
In 1966, Valley Memorial expanded from 9,400 to 22,500 sq. ft., and from 22 to 35 beds.
In 1976, 10 years later, Valley Memorial expanded once again, up to 54,000 sq. ft., and featured the first intensive care unit in the city.
By 1986, the two Sunnyside hospitals had come to a crossroads and realized that with rising healthcare costs, increased demand for outpatient services and decreased demand for inpatient services, consolidation was in the best interest of both facilities. The merger produced a new name, Sunnyside Community Hospital, at 10th and Tacoma, our current location, where both MD and DO patients alike could receive services in one facility.
In 1997, there was yet another expansion, adding 24,000 sq. ft., as the hospital added a new wing with a new labor and delivery department, and a new medical/surgical department. With this expansion, all patient rooms were now private. Just 10 years later, in 2007, the hospital had completed one more expansion, this time modernizing our Emergency Department to its current capacity of 14 patient rooms to accommodate the approximately 20,000 patient visits we see every year.
Since the change in administration in 2012, we have seen a great amount of growth. It would take too much time to go through the entire list, but we have brought many new services here, such as sleep medicine, oncology, interventional radiology and wound care, to name just a few. We have purchased state-of-the-art equipment where needed, such as our MRI machine, which is one of the few of its kind in the state. We have brought in new specialists in areas like neurosurgery, nephrology, cardiology, podiatry, plastic surgery, and ear, nose and throat.
Sunnyside has grown to a population of 16,000. The hospital has had yet another growth spurt, and with the recent acquisition of Yakima Regional (now Astria Regional Medical Center and Astria Heart Insitute) and Toppenish Community Hospitals (now Astria Toppenish Hospital), our combined staff now totals more than 1,400. In October 2017, the hospital was renamed Astria Sunnyside Hosptial. Between the three hospitals and the Astria Health system, we now feature 38 clinic and outpatient department locations, with our facilities now stretching from Selah to Prosser. The hospital has expanded quickly and looks forward to building a new facility in the near future.
In 1944, a group of residents in Toppenish realized the need for a local hospital to attract physicians to the area. The founders' vision was to create a hospital dedicated to preserving life and contributing to the well-being of the Toppenish community. Toppenish Community Hospital, a living memorial to honor the men and women who served in World War I and II, became a reality on July 2, 1951, when the hospital opened its doors.
Through the years we have helped generation after generation reach better health. Our organization has been striving to serve the needs of our region since we were established. At Astria Toppenish Hospital, we are loyal to our community and will continue to strive for excellence in healthcare. Being part of the community has been an important goal throughout the years, and with your help and loyalty we can continue to provide health services that you can depend on.
The hospital became a part of nonprofit Astria Health in September, 2017. It was renamed Astria Toppenish Hospital on Oct. 17, 2018.