It is a rare thing to be the First Baby, even rarer to be the last.
Jason Sturges came into the world as Paso Robles closed its hospital in February of 1977 as Twin Cities Hospital opened.
Who were the twins that joined to form Twin Cities Hospital?
The name was derived from Atascadero General Hospital and Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital, both closed when National Medical Enterprises opened Twin Cities Hospital in Templeton.
Twin Cities would take over the authorization for the 59 beds the two public hospitals carried. The county ran the hospital in Atascadero, a district hospital board ran the Paso Robles unit. Both facilities were aging and were struggling to to meet modern accreditation standards.
They needed pesky things like fire sprinklers and larger rooms.
The two facilities also competed for patients and funding for increasingly expensive specialized equipment.
Both facilities had supporters but as various plans were floated and debated, a new facility owned by a private company was built in Templeton.
War Memorial Hospital had 32 beds and 12 doctors on staff. Many of the physicians were near retirement at the time it closed.
The Paso Robles emergency room was closed for a time in the 70s. A dispute with a doctor had several turns in the court system.
For the last decade the hospital struggled to keep its budget in the black. In 1974 a private room cost between $85-81 a day and the average cost per patient that year was $195 a day.
Jilliana Ridgeway recently wrote to ask if we had any pictures or knew the location of War Memorial Hospital. I was unable to find any pictures of the exterior building, if a reader is willing to share one please e-mail a copy to dmiddlecamp[at]thetribunenews.com.
From Phil Dirkx article from April 23, 1984 outlining how the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital District distributed their assets after the hospital closed in 1977.
When the Paso Robles War Memorial Hospital District was born in 1946 it was the first hospital district in the state. It was the inspiration of the late Dr. A.H. Wilmar of Paso Robles said [Dr. Fredrick] Ragsdale.
The district built its hospital on donated land on Terrace Hill in Paso Robles and admitted its first patient at 9:10 a.m. Jan. 2. 1950.
The hospital on the hill closed for good Feb. 7, 1977 when the Twin Cities Community Hospital opened at Templeton.
When the building was offered for sale the property was described as 12-16 acres on a hill on the west side of Paso Robles. It included the main hospital, a house originally built for nurses, later used by the administrator a two story laundry and utility building and a small metal building.
How does a hospital go out of business? The district boundaries covered a lot of real estate but was sparsely populated. Before it became wine country, the tax base was modest. The boundaries of the district covered from the Carrisa Plains west to the ridge of the coastal range of the Santa Lucias. About a third of the area and a fifth of the assessed value was in Monterey County and the district did not include Templeton, Atascadero or Santa Margarita.
After the hospital closed the Paso Robles District Hospital trustees distributed the roughly $1 million in assets on various health related grants. The alternative was dumping the money into the county general fund. The money went to emergency rescue trucks for regional three departments, a school nurse program, medical scholarships and a therapy pool and other local programs. The district board worked for several years after the hospital closed to return money to the taxpayers in a way that would benefit the health of north county residents.