History of PIH Health




The Beginning

From PIH’s inception in the mid-1950s and throughout its distinguished 50+-year history, our strength has been our vision of a healthier future and our determination to be the best. We began during California’s post-WWII population boom that triggered widespread hospital-bed shortages. Back then, the only medical facility Whittierites could depend on was the antiquated 94-bed Murphy Memorial Hospital, built in 1921. Although many residents acknowledged the need for an up-to-date hospital, little was accomplished until two women, Mary Blanchard and Marjorie Haendiges, decided to reshape the community’s dream into a reality. Joined by local doctors, business leaders and what was soon to become the PIH Auxiliary, they spearheaded a general fundraising effort, which, augmented by federal funding, financed the construction of the brand new 188-bed hospital that opened its doors on January 11, 1959.

So great was the public’s demand for premier hospital services, that scarcely 2 years later, in 1962, PIH added intensive care, long-term care and acute care units. But even these additions barely kept pace with upsurge in usage due, in part, to the area’s phenomenal growth and the advent of Medicare in 1965. Mindful of future projections, PIH’s leadership launched the “Focus 70s” Campaign in 1967, a forward-looking plan to add medical-surgical beds, operating rooms, and the area’s first intensive coronary care unit. The PIH Foundation was created 2 years later to target and oversee the hospital’s burgeoning development activities, trusts, endowments, and public outreach programs.

The ‘70’s

By 1971, a slate of innovative on-and-off campus medical services had debuted to rave community reviews. Among them: Whittier’s first-ever “We Want You—In the Picture” Health Expo (1972); membership in L.A. County Fire Department’s newly integrated paramedic rescue system (1974); and the area’s first Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and coronary bypass operation (1977). A highly sophisticated 24-bed Critical Care Unit (1978), accredited Cancer Program (1978) and the S. Mark Taper Foundation Family Practice Center (1979), affiliated with the USC School of Medicine, also began to serve patient needs. By then, PIH had officially added “Regional Hospital and Health Center” to its name and was poised to start Project Health Center—an expansion program designed to retool approximately 50,000 square feet within the existing hospital and construct a new 4-story building adjoining its southwest corner to accommodate more ambulatory care, rehabilitative, preventative, and outpatient services. Completed in November 1979, these improvements significantly broadened PIH’s spectrum of diagnostic and patient care capabilities.

The 80’s

During the 1980s, PIH responded to increasing complexities in the health care environment by developing a vertically integrated health care delivery network, essentially a “hospital without walls,” for the residents of Whittier, Santa Fe Springs, Pico Rivera, Montebello, La Mirada, Hacienda Heights, the City of Industry, La Habra and beyond. Diversified medical services and acquisitions proliferated under the InterHealth Corp. umbrella, a non-profit holding company formed in 1981, including Med Site – Hacienda Heights, InterHealth Home Health Care, and the Same Day Surgery Center (1985). Over the next 3 years, other medical specialty services such as the Washington Magnetic Resonance Center, the Scoliosis Center, Cardiovascular Care Center, and the Blood Donor Center came on line as well. Subsequent to the 1987 Whittier Earthquake, PIH tripled the treatment capacity of its Emergency Department, established the Pediatric Critical Care Unit, and built a high-tech Radiation Therapy Pavilion. To advance PIH’s leading edge, the health center’s leadership soon kicked-off its next fundraising effort: the Vision 2000 Campaign.

The ‘90’s and into The Millennium

PIH’s reputation for excellence grew greater during the 1990s with the opening of the Hubert C. Perry Health Pavilion that housed such first tier medical services as the R.C. Baker Foundation Regional Emergency Center, the Ruth B. Shannon Maternity Care Center, Perinatal Center and the Rose Hills Southern California Complex Spine and Scoliosis Center. PIH also extended its expertise to the medically underserved via its Charity Care Policy and other outreach activities. One of these was the founding of Hospice House (1995), one of only three in California at the time, followed by the S. Mark Taper A Day Away…An Adult Day Health Care Center (1999). On the heels of these innovative healthcare solutions came another: Care Force One, a mobile examination and screening unit staffed by USC-PIH Family Practice Residency Program physicians and PIH healthcare personnel.

Because scientific breakthroughs and standards of quality patient care are ever-evolving, so are we. To that end, PIH rang in the new millennium by announcing the Century Campaign for a multi-phased Master Plan to secure its place as a healthcare leader well into the 21st Century. In that same year, PIH reached the next plateau of medical excellence with the openings of The Patricia L. Scheifly Breast Health and Ruby L. Golleher Oncology Centers, a completely remodeled state-of-the-art Cardiac Catherization Lab and the Ruth B. Shannon Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and the development of Pediatric and Adult Hospitalist Programs.

PIH has now become a fully integrated health care system with the 2005 completion of the Ed L. Shannon Tower and the Plaza 1 Tower. In 2013, PIH Health acquired Downey Regional Medical Center, which is now known as PIH Health Hospital- Downey. Guided by our deep-seated belief that healthcare is a right and not a privilege, our approximately 5000 staff and more than 600 physicians/ specialists are eminently prepared to serve the region’s nearly 1.5 million residents and fulfill the PIH promise to deliver the best health care modern medicine has to offer.

PIH Health Hospital- Downey History

For many years, PIH HEALTH HOSPITAL - DOWNEY has been an integral part of the city of Downey. Originally named Virginia Hospital, the six bed maternity facility was located on the second floor above a hardware store at Downey Avenue and Third Street.  

In 1920, Dr. E.H. Welcome convinced a group of businessmen to establish a local hospital. By 1924, Virginia Hospital had moved from its cramped quarters to a new cottage style facility on Fifth Street. Over the years ownership changed and the hospital was closed and reopened several times. 

In 1933, Dr. Welcome again organized a group, this time of local physicians, and purchased the struggling institution. This group changed the name to Downey Community Hospital (DCH).

By 1950, Downey was experiencing a population explosion. The hospital building on Fifth Street went through numerous expansions. With Only 49 beds, it was painfully apparent that DCH was too small and outdated to keep pace with the dramatic growth of the area. 

In 1956, the J. Arch Morris family acquired controlling interest in DCH and provided a new era of leadership. Mr. Morris convinced a group of local business leaders that the future of DCH was to change the hospital's corporate status to nonprofit. Seven members of this group purchased the facility and formed the Downey Community Hospital Foundation. 

Among the priorities of the nonprofit Foundation was to construct a new hospital. The landmark project would prove to be a formidable task. DCH entered into a joint powers authority with the City of Downey and Los Angeles County to guarantee the success of the project. The new hospital facility was completed at the Brookshire location in 1969. From that day forward, progress and innovation have been non-stop. 

In 1999 the DCH identity changed to Downey Regional Medical Center (DRMC). This total healthcare system grew include a 199-bed hospital. 

In 2013 PIH Health acquired DRMC to continue the mission of providing the highest quality care for the residents of Downey and its surrounding communities.