California's First District Hospital
The idea for a hospital in Redwood City originated in 1938. A group of nine women led by Mrs. Henry Beeger made an appeal to the City Council for a community hospital to serve the residents of southern San Mateo County. A preliminary study authorized by the Council confirmed the need, citing a "woeful lack of hospital facilities in the area." As World War II drew to a close in 1944, the necessity for hospital facilities in the area became even more apparent.
Rather than relying on private donations, large corporations or federal funds, the voters of Redwood City, Belmont, San Carlos, Menlo Park, Portola Valley, Woodside and Atherton elected to form a "hospital district" in 1946, under newly enacted state laws. They also passed a pair of bond issues that financed the project at a cost of $2.1 million. Thus began the development of Redwood City's Sequoia Hospital - the first district hospital in California and the prototype from which 65 others would follow.
Sequoia is Born
Construction soon began on the corner of Alameda de las Pulgas and Whipple Avenue, and Sequoia Hospital was officially dedicated on October 15, 1950. Ten days later, the first patient was admitted to the 106-bed hospital-- California’s newest and most modern. Within the first year, full capacity was reached and in 1954, a new 102-bed wing was dedicated to care for the influx of patients.
By 1960, another new 140-bed wing was completed and the Intensive Care Unit and Physical Therapy department opened. During the 60s, the Pulmonary Therapy department and Coronary Care Unit were established, and long-term skilled nursing care began. In 1968, Sequoia became one of the first hospitals in the state to open a psychiatric unit.
Doctors performed the hospital’s first coronary artery bypass surgeries in 1977, and the Cardiac Rehabilitation department opened. The first percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty was performed in 1980, making Sequoia a known leader in innovative cardiac care.
The Health & Wellness Center opened in 1993. It offered education, health screenings, maternity and family programs, and wellness programs to the community.
In September 1996, Sequoia Healthcare District residents voted to affiliate Sequoia Hospital with Dignity Health, the largest not-for-profit hospital provider in California. Governance of the hospital itself would be accomplished though a 10-person Board of Directors, including five members appointed by the Sequoia Healthcare District and five members appointed by Dignity Health.
In 2000, Sequoia celebrated 50 years of caring for the community.
To help address the critical statewide nursing shortage, the Sequoia Hospital/San Francisco State University Baccalaureate Nursing Program at Canada College opened in 2004. Funded by the Sequoia Healthcare District, it is an accelerated program in which student nurses receive a Bachelor of Science Nursing Degree. This is the first baccalaureate-nursing program in San Mateo County and the first hospital-based baccalaureate nursing school among Dignity Health hospitals. The first 27 nurses graduated in 2006.
In the early part of the new century, Sequoia Hospital began plans to build a new $240 million state-of-the-art medical campus on its current site in Redwood City. In 2007, an agreement between Sequoia Healthcare District and Dignity Health financed the hospital’s rebuild, as Dignity Health assumed ownership. Groundbreaking took place November 15, 2007, with phase one of construction, the new parking garage. Dignity Health ownership became effective January 1, 2008.
In 2008, the Joint Commission certified Sequoia’s Stroke Care program and the hospital’s first robotic surgery was performed using the newly acquired da Vinci Surgical System. In 2009, the Cardiac Arrhythmia Program completed 1,000 atrial fibrillation (A-Fib) ablation procedures, making it the highest total volume A-Fib ablation institution on the West Coast.
In 2009, the new parking garage opened and rebuilding continued toward phase two of construction – the new pavilion.
Sequoia’s Heart and Vascular Institute celebrated two “firsts” in 2011 – Dr Gregory Engel performed the first use of the Medtronic Revo MRI SureScan pacing system in Northern California. Dr Hardwin Mead implanted the first Subcutaneous Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (S-ICD) System in Northern California.
Also in 2011, Sequoia was the first hospital on the Peninsula, as well as in San Francisco, Marin County and the East Bay, to utilize Airstrip OB™, which provides physicians with remote access to vital real-time data about their maternity patients. No matter where they are, doctors can use the new wireless technology to monitor fetal heartbeat tracings, maternal contraction patterns, vital signs and other pertinent information about their patients.
In January 2012, Catholic Healthcare West changed its name to Dignity Health, as well as its governance structure. The name Dignity Health represents our commitment to delivering excellent medical care to all, to advocating on behalf of the poor, and to partnering with others to improve the quality of life. The new structure and name enable us to grow into a national system, welcoming both Catholic and non-Catholic care centers into the system, while respecting the identity and integrity of each.
Sequoia Hospital was the first hospital in Northern California to implant the new Boston Scientific S-ICD® System, the world’s first and only commercially available subcutaneous implantable defibrillator (S-ICD) for the treatment of patients at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. The procedure was performed in October 2012 by Gregory Engel, MD, cardiac electrophysiologist and member of Sequoia Hospital’s medical staff.
Today, Sequoia’s commitment to the health and well-being of the community endures. It continues to modernize and keep pace with technology by implementing the electronic health record application Cerner, which includes electronic physician order entry and bar code scanning for medication delivery. The hospital looks forward to a future fulfilling its mission of providing compassionate, quality, and cost-effective health care to residents of the mid-Peninsula and beyond.