Building Peace Harbor


PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center celebrates 30 years

July 10, 2019 — “Six years of planning and dreaming of a modern hospital facility in Florence became a reality Saturday as Peace Harbor Hospital was officially dedicated, the culmination of hundreds of donations, volunteer hours and several months of preparation,” the Siuslaw News reported on July 12, 1989.

It was the grand opening of PeaceHealth Peace Harbor which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary on Friday, July 12, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the hospital’s Conference Room C.

Progress on the hospital had been reported periodically before the hospital officially opened in 1989. Construction on the hospital began on June 1, 1988, and the official groundbreaking was on June 15. Around 250 people attended the ceremony.

“Peerless sunny skies prevailed Saturday morning as local citizenry and visiting guests gathered for the long-awaited ground breaking for Florence’s new $5.2 million hospital,” the Siuslaw News reported at the time.

“‘How sweet it is,’” quipped New Hospital Steering Committee chairman Tom Grove, quoting Jackie Gleason. “The weather here today is just another indication of how this project has gone well from the beginning.”

State Sen. John Brenneman delivered the keynote address, saying that access to health care would continue to be a major concern throughout the decade.

“You are shaping health care in the 1990s,” he said. “Rural hospitals that survive in the 1990s will be the ones affiliated with one, two or four other hospitals who share their technologies and technologists, whose position is compatible and supportive of one another and whose economic future is tied together in a mutually beneficial manner.”

Sister Monica Heeran, administrator of Sacred Heart General Hospital said, “This hospital can be seen as a symbol of the future. It will serve the community well into the 21st Century.”

Voters in the hospital district twice rejected a $6 million levy to replace the existing 31-year-old hospital in 1983, forcing the Lane Hospital Board to turn to private hospital corporations for assistance.

On March 1, 1989, the naming of the hospital made front page news. “Peace Harbor” was selected by the steering committee for its coastal theme, its connotation of care and its association with its parent organization, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. The committee had received dozens of suggestions from hospital employees, members of the medical staff and by the general public.

“‘Everything is on track’ for this week’s formal dedication of Florence’s new Peace Harbor Hospital, according to hospital Administrator Jim Barnhart,” the Siuslaw News reported on Monday, July 3.

Landscapers were preparing the grounds and, on July 5, the hospital’s architecture and facility building were inspected.

Barnhart said that the move from Western Lane Hospital to Peace Harbor would not create any disruption of service, and that the hospital would be fully operational on July 14 when the actual transfer of patients occurred.

The dedication itself occurred without a hitch as dignitaries cut the ribbon on July 8. The following is the Siuslaw News article on the event:

Several hundred spectators cheered as a ribbon stretched before the main entry was cut and the $5.2 million facility was officially dedicated.

The dedication followed more than an hour of public thanks to the community leaders, businesses and volunteers who helped to make the project a reality.

“The people of Florence and the Western Lane District can be proud of meeting the challenge of the future with vision and foresight,” said Monica Heeran, former administrator of Sacred Heart Hospital Eugene and now president of St. Joseph of Peace, Health and Hospital Services (HHS).

The new hospital is owned and managed by HHS of Bellevue, Wash., a non-profit Catholic health care corporation controlled by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, which also operates Sacred Heart General Hospital in Eugene.

… The 21-bed facility will replace the aging Western Lane Hospital, which was dedicated more than 30 years ago.

At the time when many small rural hospital are dying, Florence is taking the lead into the ‘90s with a first class health care system, said keynote speaker State Sen. John Brenneman, who outlined future changes in the state’s health care system which are expected to enhance Florence’s ability to provide quality health care.

Following the ribbon cutting, visitors explored the new hospital, munching homemade cookies and being greeted by “the ladies in pink,” members of the hospital auxiliary. The 21 single-occupancy rooms, the operating rooms, special care rooms and lab areas were all investigated as visitors circulated through the one-story brick building, designed and built by Hospital Building and Equipment Co. of St. Louis, Mo.

All 21 rooms of the new facility are private, and other improvements include an expanded emergency room, a radiology department with both ultrasound and mammography services, and a number of design changes to enhance patient care.

Also given special attention by visitors was a wall of plaques listing about 450 donors, small plaques for those who gave at least $1,000 and large ones commemorating gifts of at least $100,000.

Patient rooms also sported individual plaques honoring those who gave at least $10,000.

In all, $1 million in private funds were donated for the hospital, as well as the 20-acre hospital site.

On a facing wall memorabilia was displayed, tracing the history of Western Lane Hospital and Peace Harbor.

Special recognition was given by master of ceremonies and a member of the new hospital’s governing board Tom Grove to Don-Lee Davidson, who donated the 20-acre site for the hospital, and to members of the hospital steering committee.

Also recognized were the Sacred Heart Hospital Board of Directors, The Sacred Heart Hospital Foundation, Sacred Heart Administrator Sister Barbara Haas, elected officials, Hospital Administrator Jim Barnhard, members of the HHS staff and more than a dozen sisters from Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

Western Lane Hospital, a public facility operated for more than 30 years by the Western Lane Hospital District, closed July 14, 1989, when Peace Harbor Hospital officially opened and patients were moved into the new facility.

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