John Muir Health was formed in 1997 when our two medical centers merged. Creation of John Muir Health ensures that comprehensive, high-quality health care services remain in the community. Here are the individual histories of these two great medical centers.
History of John Muir Medical Center, Concord
In 1930, in the midst of the Depression, Edna Gallagher Haywood opened Concord Hospital, predecessor of John Muir Medical Center, Concord. Mrs. Haywood was a bright-eyed, altruistic, twenty-three-year-old registered nurse, Canadian immigrant, and mother of a two-year-old. She arrived in Concord in 1930 to assist the area's lone physician, Henry W. Stirewalt, M.D. When Dr. Stirewalt suggested the need for a hospital, Mrs. Haywood responded by convincing her father-in-law that he should mortgage his ranch to loan her the money to buy one. She purchased a small wood frame house on East Avenue that was being used by convalescents.
"For three days there was no business. I wondered if nobody was sick or if they were all trotting to Oakland," recalled Mrs. Haywood years later. "But then people started coming from all over and we just grew and grew . . . I was business manager, dietitian, director of nurses, and head surgical nurse. I also took care of the laundry. At night, when all the patients were asleep, I would iron all the sheets for the next day."
In six years, the original hospital was outgrown so a two-story stucco building was added. It had a surgery area, ten private rooms, a birthing room, and Concord's first elevator. In 1941, the hospital was admitted to the register of the American Medical Association and, in 1946, the hospital was granted a license by the State of California to operate thirty-eight beds.
History of John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek
In the late 1950s in Walnut Creek, fifty physicians with exceptional foresight conceived of the idea to build a preeminent community hospital in Contra Costa County, a place where the highest quality healthcare would be available to area residents.
After several years of meetings and fund raising, the physicians and community members had sufficient funds to build the hospital. John Muir's board of directors purchased a site for the hospital overlooking the beautiful Ygnacio Valley. With its orchards, rolling hills and spectacular view of Mount Diablo, it was just minutes from downtown Walnut Creek. After the site was purchased in 1959, thirty-nine civic-minded women established an auxiliary to help raise additional funds for the hospital. This began a tradition of service to the hospital that continues to this day.
After six years of planning and two years of construction at a cost of $4.5 million, John Muir Medical Center, Walnut Creek opened its doors on June 16, 1965. Just over 150 full- and part-time employees staffed the original 150-bed hospital, providing care for approximately seventy-five patients per day.