In 1910, four young women, who were members of the Sisters of Mercy in Los Angeles, came to Bakersfield to care for the patients in what was then St. Clair Hospital. After determining the facility wasn’t adequate to meet the needs of the growing community, they were able to build a new hospital, thanks to the generous donation of local resident William de Gana.
The original three-story structure, completed in 1913, had beds for 50 patients. Today, Mercy Hospital is able to accommodate 144 patients at its Truxtun location alone.
The principles upon which the Sisters of Mercy founded that first hospital still guide them today.
“As a hospital system, one of the most important aspects of who we are, are advocates for the underserved. That is truly essential to every single thing we do,” said Toni Harper, vice president of philanthropy for Mercy Hospital. “Everyone deserves the same excellent care and compassion.”
Not only do they serve anyone who walks through their doors, regardless of their position in life, they also make sure those patients have the resources they need once they leave the hospital.
“We wrap them up in service with our outpatient network,” said Harper. “(We work with) social services and medical services to (help) keep them out of the hospital.”
They are also one of the largest social service providers in the community beyond the walls of the hospital.
“Last year we had $93 million in community care — between Mercy and Memorial hospitals combined,” said Harper. “We serve 100,000 people per year beyond the walls of our hospitals, in our outreach programs.”
Dignity Health offers community health screenings, after school homework programs, nutrition services and two outreach centers in underserved areas of our community. They also have a Wellness Center on G Street that offers health classes, a community kitchen, classes in pain management, heart disease and myriad other services.
In the mid-1990s, Memorial Hospital realized the advantages of coming under the umbrella of a larger health care system and after careful consideration, chose Dignity Health because of their shared philosophy.
Even before they officially joined forces, Mercy and Memorial hospitals had a history of working together. When the 1952 earthquake destroyed the Mercy Hospital building, there was already a group of Bakersfield residents in the process of raising funds to build Memorial Hospital. Together the two groups raised the capital needed and Memorial Hospital was completed in 1956.
Continued expansion over the years has made Memorial the largest regional medical center in the Southern Valley. They also have the area’s only pediatric intensive care unit. Memorial is still community owned and governed by a board of directors from the community.
Although individual entities, Mercy and Memorial hospitals’ shared values in caring for the community they serve make them perfect teammates.
“I think it’s such an honor to be able to continue the legacy of all the community members before us that established Mercy and Memorial,” said Harper. ￼