El Camino

Once upon a time, El Camino Hospital was nothing more than words on a sign off the road promising a community hospital.

 

El Camino Health is a thriving health system with $3.15 billion in assets and hospitals in both Mountain View and Los Gatos. It all started 60 years ago, on Sept. 1, 1961, when community-built El Camino Hospital opened its doors to its first patients.

“In the mid-1950s, when orchards and fields in the Los Altos-Mountain View area were quickly turning into suburbs and commercial enclaves, a group of physicians and concerned citizens banded together to establish the much-needed community hospital,” noted Santa Clara County Supervisor Otto Lee, who with fellow supervisors recognized El Camino Health on its milestone at their Aug. 31 meeting with a proclamation and a plaque.

In addition to the hospitals, the not-for-profit El Camino Health now operates urgent care, multispecialty care and primary care locations across Santa Clara County.

“When I came back on the board in 2013, I discovered immediately how essential the work of El Camino Health was in our area,” added Supervisor Joe Simitian. “The phrase ‘health care partners’ really does describe the working relationship that we have with El Camino. It seems every time we’ve had a need or a challenge in the community, we’ve been able to turn to El Camino.”

Simitian cited several instances, from provision of automated external defibrillators to formation of a program for teen mental health and COVID testing during the pandemic.

El Camino Health CEO Dan Woods offered his thanks.

“Our health system began six decades ago with a mission to heal, relieve suffering and advance wellness in our community, and today we recognize every single person – physicians, nurses, support staff, volunteers, donors, partners, friends and our board members – who has made that mission a reality,” he said. “Especially now, in the midst of ever-changing circumstances related to the ongoing pandemic, our staff has never been more deserving of recognition and celebration.”

Supervisors also relayed their gratitude based on personal experiences. Board president Mike Wasserman thanked El Camino for the successful emergency brain surgery that saved his mother’s life. Lee said all three of his daughters were born at the Mountain View hospital.

Yearlong celebration

While a public observation of the anniversary has not been planned due to COVID-19 precautions, the milestone will be celebrated throughout the year. In addition to the supervisors’ recognition, U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo presented El Camino Health with a certificate of recognition.

Mountain View Mayor Ellen Kamei will present a certificate of excellence to the health system later this month.

Since its inception, El Camino Health has helped deliver more than 150,000 babies and is currently investing $149 million to expand its Women’s Hospital, a unique facility among health-care providers in the Bay Area.

Overseen by its public arm – the El Camino Healthcare District, with an elected board of directors – the health system regularly contributes money to community benefit programs and offers grants, scholarships and in-kind donations.

Old main hospital demolition scheduled

El Camino Health officials are planning to begin demolishing the old main hospital building just weeks after celebrating its opening 60 years ago.

The old main hospital, deemed seismically unsafe, has been mostly dormant since the opening of the new main hospital building in 2009.

Work will be completed in stages, according to Ken King, El Camino Health’s chief administrative services officer.

Phase 1, expected to begin in a few weeks, consists of the demolition of a previous building addition and construction of a temporary service yard and receiving area. Phase 1 is expected to last four to five months.

Phase 2 involves the actual demolition of the old hospital, which will be razed in six sequences after the removal of all hazardous materials. The duration of Phase 2 is targeted to be completed in approximately 12 months.

“Once demolition is completed, we will complete exterior construction elements on the existing buildings that are currently connected to the old hospital building,” King said.

The final Phase 3 plan, which includes all work on the site after the demolition is completed, is the next step to finalize and present to the healthcare district’s board of directors for approval.

In light of the health system’s 60th anniversary, El Camino officials are planning a memorial “Building Brick” giveaway celebration.

For more information on El Camino Health, visit elcaminohealth.org/about-us.