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A NEW HOSPITAL IS BORN
"All of a sudden, one evening, we had a truck and a couple of the men came and we moved all the files and everything over to the business office," said Peggy Miller. "The next morning we set up business in the hospital."
The staff moved from office space on Aurora Avenue into the unfinished hospital building on July 5, 1960. Their new address was 1551 N. 120th Street, Seattle, Washington; telephone number EMerson 4-0500.
If it was not completely convenient to work amid dust and noise, it was exciting. The new staff was busy buying equipment, writing policies and procedures, hiring people, and watching a hospital come to life.
"When I started working at Northwest the only thing that was really finished in the hospital itself was the main business office and the administrator's office," recalled Wyn Hutton. "There were very few employees at this time, of course — the director of nurses, the supervisor of the central supply department, the housekeeping supervisor, the medical record librarian and myself who worked in the business office — while everything else was going on around us. That's why one really [felt], 'This is my department!'"
Opening was getting closer, and the board planned a series of galas to mark the occasion. On Friday, September 9, there would be a dinner for board members and the medical staff, followed on September 12 by an open house for physicians. The board would host a reception for medical staff and their guests on the 13th and a tea for women volunteers on the 14th. The big day, the dedication, was Friday, September 16, and a public open house followed on the 17th and 18th.
The dedication ceremonies were the culmination of a 12-year dream. Somehow, a small group of people had managed to overcome setback after setback, and now Torchy Torrance was welcoming the distinguished guests. Rabbi Raphael H. Levine was delivering an invocation. Charles Horowitz was speaking of the years of toil. The Rev. Dale E. Turner was dedicating the hospital. Dr. Bucove, the State director of health, was addressing the crowd. George Hazen, who had drafted design after design to meet changing financial conditions, was presenting a gold key to the hospital to Harry Givan, whose persistence did "unconvince" the Internal Revenue Service that they should have a share of the association's money. Finally, the Rev. William J. Power, pastor of St. Matthews Church, was giving the benediction and it was time to leave.
It was time to leave for everyone but the employees of this wonderful new Northwest Hospital, that is. They had only four days between the open house and the opening of the hospital to get it ready for patients.
"One of my fondest memories of opening the hospital," said Wyn Hutton, "was how the people in the administration came and helped clean and scrub the operating rooms, including Mr. Greene! We spent many evenings scrubbing and cleaning before we opened it for business."
On September 22, 1960, at 10:00 a.m., the sparkling new hospital was open for business.
"It went beautifully," Ms. Hutton said. "I was really nervous. For nights before, when I'd go home I'd go over all the instruments that we'd possibly need, [I'd think,] 'Yes, I have it, I have it,' but I expected something to be missing. But it went very well."
Her recollection is that the first three surgeries were two hysterectomies and a gall bladder operation, the latter performed by Dr. Koutsky.
The first baby was born on September 23, 1960, a seven-pound, eight-ounce baby boy with a shock of black hair. John William Larson was to come back 20 years later for yet another milestone in the hospital's development, the ground-breaking for the five-story tower. And, on April 17, 1988, he returned to Northwest for the birth of his first child, eight-pound, four-and-one-half-ounce Jeremy Taylor Larson.
Soon the hospital would be bustling with life. Five hundred people received care and 75 babies were born the first month. The hospital took its first step toward becoming "the baby hospital" in December, when the obstetrical department decided to allow expectant fathers to observe in the delivery room.
On February 8, 1961, Dr. Gould wrote in his diary that he could not get a patient into the hospital. It was full.
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