Sixty years ago, when the people of Tri-Valley in the East Bay had a health crisis or needed a medical specialist, they had no choice but to travel 20 miles to Hayward or 30 miles to Oakland.
That changed in 1961, after residents of the then mosaic of small towns launched a campaign to raise funds – sometimes $ 1 at a time – and leaders secured grants to build what was to become the Valley Memorial Hospital. Over the years, the facility has kept pace with the growth of the Tri-Valley region, providing comprehensive medical care and serving as a training ground for the next generation of clinicians.
In 2015, ValleyCare expanded its medical care and education options by joining Stanford Medicine to become Stanford Healthcare – ValleyCare.
“Historically, ValleyCare has always been a traditional, community-based healthcare system,” said Richard shumway, the president and CEO of the organization. “And for 60 years, ValleyCare has done it really, really well. But joining the Stanford family has allowed us to bring truly high-end, complex programs – typically only available at academic medical centers – directly into the community.
Founded by and for the Tri-Valley community
By the late 1950s, the Tri-Valley region – which includes the Amador, San Ramon, and Livermore valleys – was made up of small towns surrounded by farmland and ranches. The only hospital in the area was a small 18-bed facility in Livermore that was not equipped to provide critical or emergency care or treat complex illnesses.
For the region to prosper, community leaders realized they needed a bigger hospital. Plans advanced in earnest after the Kaiser Paving Co. donated land in downtown Livermore to build the facility.
“Then it was really the community that started fundraising,” said John Yee, MD, vice president of clinical initiatives for Stanford Health Care – ValleyCare, who joined the hospital in 1982.
Residents, Yee said, have been going door-to-door looking for donations, and local employers have organized donation drives. “Every month, every paycheque, they were giving $ 1, $ 2, or $ 10,” he said. “The community is really how the hospital was born, and the board came from those members who pledged money into the system.”
Local leaders also asked for government grants to match funds raised by the community, and on October 2, 1961, the Valley Memorial Hospital opened with 46 beds and 23 staff.