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During the early years of Umatilla County, the average life expectancy was little more than half of what it is today. Disease was the rule rather than the exception, and by and large, doctors were so scarce that people who came down with an illness or injury had to "tough it out." Among the first to bring health care to the county were the Catholic sisters, who in the early 1880s opened their doors to all who needed help.
The sisters first opened their doors to the sick and injured in a three-story Victorian home that still stands today. A hospital was the dream of Mother Stanislaus, who one day received a check for $250 from Dr. F. W. Vincent. He suggested that she find others who would match his gift to help start a building fund. Mother Stanislaus received $8,000 from the community to go toward this dream. Ground was broken in the spring of 1901, and the original hospital was dedicated in 1902 at the cost of $75,000.
Typhoid was the cause of many admissions to the hospital in the early days. In the summer and winter of 1906, there were outbreaks because of flooding in the lower part of the city.
In 1909 a school of nursing was opened at St. Anthony Hospital. Many of the guest lecturers were physicians who attended patients in the hospital. The school for nurses operated until 1955.
The crowded conditions revealed the need to expand, and plans for a new addition were formulated. Ground was broken in the spring of 1921. This building of solid masonry construction costing $200,000 had new facilities and a capacity of 75 beds. It was formally opened Oct. 22, 1922.
Updating the facility in 1961 at the cost of $2,100,000 brought many new technologies to the area. These services had been available only to those who lived in or traveled to large metropolitan areas. The original 1902 hospital building was demolished in April 1962. In 1982 another update to the hospital added more services and easier access to emergency medical care.
The hospital celebrated its 100th birthday in 2002 and a $17,000,000 renovation began. All outpatient, imaging and surgery services were updated with remodeled facilities and new state-of-the-art equipment.
St. Anthony Hospital has made many transitions in structure and services throughout the years and will continue to bring high-quality health care to the people in Umatilla County and the surrounding areas in the years to come.