News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation |

News from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Foundation


This week, Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) is joining hospitals across the country to celebrate National Hospital week. Commemorated May 8 through 14, National Hospital week was established in 1921 to inspire community members to support the heroic efforts of healthcare workers after the Spanish flu epidemic.

History certainly has a way of repeating itself. During the COVID-19 pandemic, SNMH was instrumental in the care of those suffering with acute symptoms. This all while managing emergency, critical care, and ongoing diagnoses and treatments for those with serious health complications.

When we think of hospitals, we tend to think of nurses and doctors, but a hospital also includes those that keep the lights on, that prepare food, that repair the building, maintain complex equipment and technology, clean instruments, calm patients and emotional family members, handle complex paperwork, deal with frustrating insurance issues, manage vendors, and more. While most of these people are invisible to the patient and family, the function of the organization is dependent on their work.

Towns without hospitals don’t thrive. Like electricity and running water, we tend to take a hospital’s presence in a community for granted. Currently in the U.S., over 500 hospitals are fiscally stressed, almost 20% of acute care hospitals.

Although places to care for the sick have existed for centuries, the earliest documented general hospital was built in 805 in Baghdad. Similar to today, the early Islamic hospitals were subdivided into departments such as diseases, surgery, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and mental illness. Hospital staff included a sanitary inspector responsible for ensuring cleanliness and hygienic practices were followed. There were also accountants and other administrative staff to assure the hospital coffers were being managed.

Physicians worked fixed hours. Every department had “saydalani” (pharmacists) and nurses. Medical staff salaries were fixed by law and compensation was distributed at a generous enough rate to attract the most talented workers.

Fast forward to 1755 in the U.S. If you visit Philadelphia today to tour the historic part of the city, you might skip the first American hospital founded by Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Bond, but you’d be missing out. Tours are still available and include a visit to the oldest existing surgical amphitheater in the country. It was built in 1804 on the top floor so surgeons could operate with light from the sun since there wasn’t electricity. The hospital also houses a historic 13,000 volume library and a large garden.

Health is a community effort! While our hospital team is constantly focused on what they can do to enhance patient care, the bottom line is their dollars will only stretch so far. Community support helps fund new technology and equipment for our patients, provides free programs and services, supports the needs of physicians and clinical staff, and much more.

Please consider a donation in honor of your hospital team by going, calling 530-477-9700, or mailing a check to SNMHF, PO BOX 1810, Grass Valley, CA 95945.


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