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FRHD presents 70 years of health services


Last updated 6/11/2020 at 4:30pm

Participating in the dedication of the new physicians' lounge at Fallbrook Hospital in the 70s are, seated, Dr. Ron Sisel, a surgeon, and, from left standing, Dr. Michael Roche, internal medicine; Dr. Don Lanning, family medicine; board member Eileen Goldman; Dr. Mel Michaelian, surgeon, and Dr. Daniel Manring, internal medicine.

FALLBROOK – Fallbrook Regional Health District is celebrating its 70th anniversary June 12. Following is a brief history of the district and its medical services.

In the late 1930s, Fallbrook Hospital began in a small, pale blue house on Main Street. In the early 1940s, medical care was expanded to include obstetrics, minor surgery, emergency surgery and general medical care.

When the patient load got down to two or three, the nurse on the evening shift also assumed dietary responsibilities and was expected to cook supper for herself and the patients as well as wash the dishes along with her nursing duties.

A newspaper advertisement in 1947 said ward beds at the hospital were $7 per day and private rooms were $8. The hospital was kept going by the dedicated efforts of Beatrice Tassey, a registered nurse (who would later serve as the first administrator of the district facility) and who, along with Dr. Edwin R. Powell, worked diligently to meet financial demands and provide good medical care for the people of the Fallbrook community

In 1950, under the leadership of George and Josephine Kelsey, a formal hospital district was organized under California law and it remained in the same building on Main Street for the next 10 years.

A bond issue for $185,000 was passed by voters and matching funds were provided by the government under the Hill-Burton Act. The new building was completed at 624 E. Elder Street and Fallbrook Hospital District moved into its new 20-bed facility in December 1960.

Following passage of another bond issue in the amount of $2,200,000, the hospital expanded to a 50-bed facility in 1972. In 1992, the Wellness Center, a two-story building on Brandon Road was added to house Cardiac Rehab, Home Health & Hospice, the Foundation and Human Resources.

From its beginning, the hospital struggled financially as evidenced by donations from many organizations, individuals and the ongoing fundraising efforts of the Fallbrook Hospital Auxiliary. Formed in 1959, this volunteer organization continued to serve the district hospital and its patients from the opening in 1960 to the closure in 2015. In the mid-70s, the Fallbrook Hospital Foundation was formed to additionally support the hospital.

In November of 1998, after exhaustive efforts to find a partner, Fallbrook Hospital District negotiated a 30-year lease and operating agreement with Community Health Systems, a for-profit organization based in Tennessee that operates hospitals nationwide. This action was approved by a public vote.

With that action, the foundation could no longer support the hospital and it eventually evolved into what is now known as the Foundation for Senior Care.

The auxiliary volunteers continued to serve at the hospital and established a courier service. Fundraising efforts were then directed to scholarships for students planning a career in health care.

The district changed its name to Fallbrook Healthcare District and shifted its focus to providing grants to local nonprofit entities providing health-related services in the district.

Since the year 2000, more than $9,135,000 has been awarded to maintain those health-related services in the district. In addition to the grants, the district helps to support urgent care services begun in 2015, has helped to purchase ambulances and works on common projects and goals through a Joint Powers Agreement with North County Fire Protection District.

Another name change took place in late 2016 to better reflect that the district serves the communities of Bonsall, De Luz and Rainbow as well as Fallbrook – Fallbrook Regional Health District.

An account of current and future services provided by FRHD will be published next week.

Submitted by Fallbrook Regional Health District.


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