History of Sharp Memorial Hospital

A Cornerstone of San Diego Health Care for More Than 50 Years

A dedication ceremony to Sharp Memorial Hospital 

The April 1955 dedication ceremony
permanently opened the doors of
the hospital to serve the community.  

During the 1950s, San Diego’s leadership planted the seeds that would blossom into a vibrant city. The city’s population grew more than 30 percent — to more than 400,000 — and the community’s health care needed to change with the times.
The Donald N. Sharp Memorial Community Hospital was a visionary, community-wide effort to transform health care in San Diego. From the beginning, this was a health care organization designed not for profit, but for people. And in the decades to come, Sharp Memorial Hospital would deliver many medical firsts for the greater good of all San Diegans.

By its second decade, Sharp Memorial Hospital had become a recognized leader in San Diego for cardiac care, rehabilitation and maternity services. Dramatic advances like San Diego’s first implantable pacemaker and first open-heart surgery became commonplace. Major expansion of the hospital campus began immediately after it opened. It was not enough for Sharp Memorial Hospital to be the area’s newest and most modern hospital, its destiny was to grow with San Diego, becoming the area’s most comprehensive center for health care.

By 1980 — the year of its silver jubilee — Sharp Memorial Hospital was providing an extraordinary range of clinical services in facilities that had grown fourfold to meet community needs. The hospital would become the cornerstone of today’s Sharp HealthCare.

As medical science advanced rapidly into the area of high technology, Sharp Memorial Hospital physicians performed the most cardiac catheterizations and cardiac surgeries in the area. The hospital brought the first computerized tomography (CT) scanner to San Diego, and its staff was at the forefront of transplantation, including the use of artificial hearts and the region’s first heart transplant.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Sharp Memorial Hospital became the single largest provider of acute-care services in San Diego County. A growing reputation for excellence attracted clinicians and staff from around the world as it still does to this day.

 New Sharp Memorial Hospital

The new Sharp Memorial Hospital
opened in January 2009.

By its golden anniversary in 2005, Sharp Memorial Hospital had welcomed more than 250,000 San Diego babies into the world and cared for more than 1 million patients. Now in its fifth decade, and with the dedication and commitment of more than 1,100 physicians and 3,800 employees, Sharp Memorial Hospital's leadership looks to the future. 
As was the case a half-century before, health care in San Diego is again in need of dramatic transformation to ensure clinical superiority for the San Diego of tomorrow. Now, on the site where Thomas E. Sharp first pledged a hospital to the memory of his heroic son, stands one of the most modern, technologically advanced, patient-focused care centers in the United States.

The new Sharp Memorial Hospital, called the Stephen Birch Healthcare Center at Sharp Memorial Hospital, opened in January 2009 and is the first new hospital in San Diego in 15 years. True to its history, the new hospital is the product of its dedicated community, its visionary staff and its countless financial supporters. Together, they embody the spirit of caring and excellence that has become the legacy of Lt. Donald N. Sharp.

The 315,000-square-foot, 334-bed facility includes many design elements inspired by the caregivers who work there:

  • 48 private intensive care rooms with overnight sleeping accommodations for a loved one
  • All 334 patient rooms are private, each with its own bathroom and a sleeper sofa where a loved one can spend the night
  • Family Lounges where guests can enjoy fresh fruit and spa water, relax while they wait for their loved one and access health-related resources
  • Largest and most modern Emergency and Trauma Center in San Diego
  • Large, sunlit-filled windows located throughout the hospital bring in the outside
  • New surgery center with 10 state-of-the-art surgery suites
  • Soft, warm colors and artwork provide a comfortable, healing environment
  • Wireless Internet access throughout the facility

Worth noting is the new Emergency and Trauma Center. Increased in size by nearly 300 percent and designed to reduce stress and waiting time, this level II trauma center is only one of five adult trauma centers in San Diego County. The new center has 52 beds, including 4 trauma beds to serve the community. Patient care rooms in the center are private, with either sliding doors or curtain entrances.

“Patient-focused care” means that the caregivers at Sharp Memorial encourage patients' families and loved ones to participate in caregiving. In addition, comfortable spaces, educational materials, refreshments and other amenities are provided to welcome families and guests into the healing process. In the main lobby, guests can order a refreshing drink from the coffee bar, shop in the gift gallery, purchase custom-arranged flowers from the floral cart or simply relax.

Sharp Memorial continues its tradition as one of the county’s largest providers of acute care services and one of the busiest single hospitals in San Diego. Sharp Memorial Hospital is recognized for its outstanding programs in cardiac care, cancer treatment, pulmonary care services, rehabilitation and multi-organ transplantation.

For More Information
Sharp Memorial Hospital and its medical programs are funded in part by charitable gifts and grants. To learn more about participating in its future by making a donation, please visit Sharp HealthCare Foundation online or call the foundation directly at 858-499-4800.