After decades of planning, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center's new hospital tower has opened. The first of many patients have been transferred to the building, which combines clinical excellence with an exceptional level of care for the South Bay community.
In anticipation of the move, a planning committee has been diligently working since May 2018 to prepare to transition patients and departments — including kitchen and dietary teams, pharmacy, surgical intensive care, post-anesthesia care, pre-op, surgery and more — to the brand-new space.
A similar — yet, far smaller-scale — effort took place 45 years ago, when 15 patients were transferred from Community Hospital of Chula Vista on F Street to the new Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, fondly known as the “hospital on the hill,” in May 1975.
Ruth “Jeanne” Dickey began her nursing career at Community Hospital in 1970. She clearly remembers the excitement leading up to the hospital’s move.
“Everyone was thrilled with thoughts of moving to a brand-new hospital on the hill,” Jeanne says. “We even held ‘dime-a-dip’ dinners to help raise money for equipment.”
According to Jeanne, the dinners were potluck meals organized by hospital staff members, who brought dishes to share and paid 10 cents for each serving of their colleagues’ contributions.
“We didn't make a lot of money, but it was a good get-together,” Jeanne says. “We were all very excited at the thought of a new building and new equipment. We were still using old iron beds with cranks to elevate the head and foot of the bed before the move.”
Jeanne worked the evening shift on opening day, May 24, 1975, and the first patients had already been moved by ambulance to the new hospital. “They were in brand-new, state-of-the-art beds. No more hand-cranking, and the beds actually went up and down to facilitate patient transfers,” she says.
Jeanne retired in 1996, but has never left the Sharp Chula Vista team. She began volunteering and has served in many different areas of the hospital. Her husband, Wayne, also volunteered as a shuttle driver for many years, and her two grandsons have served as Sharp Chula Vista volunteers as well.
Fast forward to 2020 and the move to the new tower — the first new hospital to be built in the South Bay in 40 years. The project required the setup of a command center, the hub for all communication. Along with whole units and team members, approximately 96 patients were moved into the new tower. Teams of clinical staff were on both the sending and receiving ends to ensure safe patient handoffs.
Jeanne understands why moving day might have been emotional for Sharp Chula Vista staff. Many left areas they have worked in for more than 20 years. She remembers that when they moved in 1975, team members were afraid they might lose some of the camaraderie from working so closely on the F Street campus.
“We started having potlucks again, for fun this time, no dimes involved, and other departments joined us,” she says. “With each expansion, there is fear that we might lose the feelings of belonging and fellowship that we share, but Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center will always be a caring and sharing environment, and a wonderful place to serve our patients.”
Learn more about Sharp Chula Vista’s new tower, where leading-edge technology meets compassionate care.