A History of Hi-Desert Medical Center

Late 1950s and '60s

  •  Yucca Valley Chamber approved Bud Stewart's idea of constructing a house as a fundraiser for the new hospital.  Art Miller donated property for the house; community members volunteered labor and materials.  The house cost $7,937 to build; $7,031was spent on promoting the fundraising campaign, $274 for legal expenses and $1,900 for miscellaneous.  The venture neted the hospital fund $23,230.  Net donations totaled $8,000.
  • A celebration was hosted with a round-up of stars that included Desi Arnez ("I Love Lucy"), Phil Harris (the "Jack Benny Show"), golfer Lloyd Mangrum, Ty Hardin ("Bronco" television series), and Abe Schiller ("Mr. Las Vegas") and (a publicist from the Flamingo Hotel) Gwynett Swogger draws the winning ticket and the home is awarded on December 20, 1959, to Benny Lopez of Pico Rivera.  He chooses to take the $15,000 offered by the chamber and the house is ultimately sold to Mr. and Mrs. Edward T. Whiter of Glendora.  Real estate agent Bill Tenne donates his commission to the hospital fund.
Photos: (right) Twentynine Palms Community Hospital; 
(below) Hi-Desert Memorial Hospital, Yucca Valley 


Late 1971

The County Formation Commission orders the consolidation of the Yucca Valley Hi-Desert Memorial Hospital District and the Twentynine Palms Commiunity Hospital District in what observers refer to as a "shotgun" wedding."   At the time of the consolidation, preparations are under way at both ends of the Morongo Basin to renovate the individual hospitals - revenue bonds for a 28 bed facility have been passed in Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley voters pass an $8.6 million revenue bond issue, purportedly for a site between Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley.
Soon after, the consolidation of the federally charted Inland Counties Comprehensive Health Planning Council rules there should be one centrally located hospital.  Opposition emerges in various forms to the proposed new medical center and residents, particularly in the west end of the valley, mount a number of strategies against it, including altnerate private hospital proposals and opposition to approval of the center before various county, regional and state agencies - all to no avail.

February 23, 1975

Ground is broken for the medical center project.  Bob Thacher and Larry Fine are co-master of ceremony and 400 people attend.  Thacher is serving as the U.S. magistrate and represents Twentynine Palms.  they borrow a tractor-trailer from the Marine Corps base and set it up as the stage where the main entrance of the hospital will be.  Edward Lincoln Smith, MD, and his mother are honored guests.  Dr. Smith had been the only physician in the area for many years.  Judge John Allen, who precedes thacher as U.S. Magistrate, is one of the driving forces in getting a single hospital in the Morongo Basin; he's served on the board of the Twentynine Palms Hospital.  Seventy-five folding chairs are set up in front of the truck state.  Hospital board members - Walters, Petrovich, Emrick, Luckman and Ishmael - man the shovels.


  • Construction deadline of July 31 for new hospital; application for license for new facility mailed to the Department of Health Services.
  • Pledges to the HDMC Foundation at $227,761; cash received to date: $58,045; Auxiliary membership at 95.
  • Applied for Federal Aviation aiuthorization for heliport; design presented for medical arts building; dedication of hospital building set for August 26, 1976.
  • September 26, 1976 hospital dedicated with over 1,000 in attendance at ceremony.
  • Telephone system installed in hospital; radiology department and kitchen nearing completion; approved the construction of the medical arts buildings for $555,000; motion to move the Board of Directors meeting to the new hospital in Joshua Tree effective November 9, 1976.
  • First patients admitted to hospital, transported from Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley hospitals by Joshua Tree Ambulance Association; Board of Directors vote to sell both Yucca Valley and Twentynine hospitals.


  • Respiratory therapy department becomes hospital based; contract with outside firm eliminated.
  • Contract award for construction of storage building.
  • Telemetry system operational.
  • Department of Health approves increase of certified beds to 56.
  • Employee newsletter, "Main Artery" and new hospital brochure were published.
  • College of the Desert approved to use hospital for expanded nursing clinical training.


  • December has 20 percent increase in patient census over November and October.
  • Added 55 parking spaces to accommodate new medical arts building.
  • Cardiopulmonary Services added to hospital services.
  • Medical arts building groundbreaking ceremony; 70 people in attendance.
  • Hospital census averaging 25-26 patients.
  • Board of Directors approve a transfer agreement with Loma Linda University Medical Center.
  • At two-year anniversary, hospital has admitted 3,000 patients in total.


  • Auxiliary opened thrift shop in Joshua Tree.
  • Board of Directors approves mileage reimbursement at 20-cents per mile.
  • Properties adjacent to the hospital annexed.
  • Building & Grounds Committee focuses on solving current parking problems and developing a long-range parking plan.
  • First disaster drill planned for October 30.
  • Hospital entered into a Joint Oncology Program with other hospitals in area.
  • Board of Directors approve the addition of wine to patient menus.


  • Speech and occupational therapy programs added to hospital services.
  • $50,000 donation received from Yucca Valley Memorial Guild for the dedication of Wing 1 in the name of Elsinore Machris.
  • Hospital is now one of the largest employers in the Morongo Basin with well over 100 employees; and has budgeted more than $2 million just for salaries and benefits in the fiscal year from July 1, 1980 through June 30, 1981.
  • Contract executed between Joshua Tree Ambulance and hospital; contract with County of San Bernardino to serve as Base Station.


  • New surgical video monitoring system purchased.
  • Board of Directors resolution to contract for dining room re-design.
  • 10-ft tall, 800-pound nuclear family statue installed at front of hospital, courtesy of renowned artist, Howard Pierce.
  • First hospice patient enrolled in HDMC hospice program.
  • Auxiliary hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for the purchase of the thrift store.


  • Donna Newland reported to the Board of Directors that the Emergency Department had 600 visits last month; the oeprating room had 88 procedures.
  • Outpatient radiology and laboratory services moves to the Avalon Medical Center.


  • Mammography unit becomes operational.
  • Dedication of ICU/CCC monitoring equipment.
  • Monument signs placed at entrance to hospital campus.
  • Home Health Services opens with nine patients.


  • October 25: groundbreaking ceremony for the Continuing Care Center; approximately 100 participants observe groundbreaking for4 new skilled nursing facility.  Board members were Ernie Littlepage, president; Carol Barrett, vice president; Virginia Wagner, treasurer.  50 balloons were released into the air.
  • Home Health provides care to 514 patients.


  • Helen Gray Education Center groundbreaking ceremony.
  • New CAT scan equipment purchased.


  • Hospital begans with 60 employees and reaches 300 employees in 1990
  • 11/15/90-Grand opening for the Continuing Care Center
  • Twentynine Palms outpatient lab opens 


  • $120,000 raised at the HDMC Foundation gala
  • Subacute services begin at the Continuing Care Center


  • Consortium formed with San Bernardino County Dept of Public Health and Maternal Services, And Loma Linda University Medical Center to bloster perinatal services to Morongo Basin
  • HDMC implements reduction in force
  • Board discusses expansion plans to replace buisness office trailer with new construction
  • Hospital emergency department responds to 1992 earthquake,the largest natural disaster to date
  • Circuit board fire in electrical room caused hospital to switch to emergency power for 12 hours; no patients evacuated
  • Outpatient lab opens at Airway
  • Architect instructedto proceed with final plans for the Helen Gray Education Center with the constuction budget of $600,000
  • Board contracts to do a feasibility study to determine if HDMC should begin planning for additional acute care beds as requested by Medical staff.
  • Materials management building added to hospital campus


  • New X-Ray machine installed
  • Dr. Guzman named " Doctor of the Year" by HDMC Medical Staff


  • HDMC applies to the Federal Dept of Health to initiate the CPSP perinatal program on campus
  • Cardiology services brought in- house
  • Grand opening of Airway Surgicenter
  • Cardiac ultrasound equipment purchased with funds donated by Marchis Trust
  • Helen Gray Educational Center building dedicated
  • Special Additions prenatal education program comes on line
  • Board resolution to refurbish operating room
  • Bi- pap machine and transesophageal echo machines purchased


  • Adopted strategic plan that included the addition of the Birthing Center
  • Lab department relocated to temporary trailer during remodel laboratory
  • Purchased Prescott Building now being used by Behavior Health
  • Bone Densitometry equipment purchased
  • Open house for Behavioral Health Centre
  • $2.18 million to remodel patient rooms, upgrade electrial systems and ermergency power, install Meditech computer system 
  • Mobile MRI services initiated
  • Board of Directors voted to add birthing center to services
  • HDMC negotiated a rental agreement for a rural health cllinic in Twentynine Palms
  •  New CT Scanner purchased; first of its kind on the West Coast
  • Auxiliary introduced Junior Volenteer Program at Continuing Care


  • Emergency department remodel project complete
  • Grant received to purchase HDMC van for transporting women to Special Addition Prenatal Services
  • Continuing Care Center awarded bronze medal by State Health Department's "Best Practices" for activities department
  • Elsinore Machris Guild donates thrift shop building to Auxiliary
  • Brim Management contract signed
  • HDMC Birthing Center opens Labor Day Weekend
  • Employee newsletter initiated, "HDMC Happenings"
  • MRI, purachased through a collaborative effort with the Marine Corp Air Ground Combat Center and Federal Grant monies, opens with state-of-the-art applications; staff conducted 130 scans during the first full month of operation
  • Outpatient physical therapy opens in Yucca Valley
  • Employee Do-It-Groups, Dynamic Ideas, employee birthday celebrations and KRA boards go District-wide
  • Board Resolution:  Approved purchase of Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS)
  • Rural Health Clinics added to HDMC services
  • Special Additions Prenatal Program and Family Birthing Center receives the San Bernardino Countys' "Award of Excellence"
  • Inaugural class of students attend the new Registered Nurising Progrm at Copper Mountain College
  • Neurology, orthopedics, urology, and extended pediatric services come on line!
  • Continuing Care Center celebrates 15 year anniversary
  • 990,600 patient meals served between December 1976 and August 2006
  • Auxiliary thrift store remodedled by donation of Leota Bell
  • HDMC celebrates 30 years of caring for our community!


  • Elsinore Machris Guild donates thrift shop building to HDMC Auxiliary.


  • Brim Management contract signed
  • HDMC Birthing Center opens Labor Day weekend
  • Employee newsletter initatied, "HDMC Happenings"


  • MRI purchased through a collaborative effort with the Maring Corp Air Ground Combat Center and federal grant monies; open with state-of-the-art applications; staff conducted 130 scans during the first full month of operation
  • Outpatient physical therapy opens in Yucca Valley
  • Employee birthday celebrations, Dynamite Ideas program, and communication bulleting boards go District wide


  • Board Resolution: approved purchase of Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)
  • Rural Health Clinics added to HDMC services (Family Health Clinics
  • Special Additions Prenatal Program and Family Birthing Center receives the San Bernardino County's "Award of Excellence"
  • Inaugural class of students attend the new Registered Nursing Program at Copper Mountain College
  • Neurology, orthopedics, urology and expanded pediatric services come on line


  • Continuing Care Center celebrate 15 year anniversary
  • 990,600 patient meals served between December 1976 and August 2006
  • Auxiliary thrift store remodeled by donation of Leota Bell
  • HDMC celebrates 30 years of caring for our community!


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