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  • Shelly Mullin, RN, Vice President and Administrator of MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, started her career at the hospital as a student nurse in 1986.

    Shelly Mullin, RN, Vice President and Administrator of MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, started her career at the hospital as a student nurse in 1986.

    Tacoma General kicks off yearlong 130th anniversary celebration

    by Cole Cosgrove

    MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital's yearlong 130th anniversary celebration kicked off today with a ceremony that paid tribute to the hospital's roots.

    In the hospital's main lobby, staff members unveiled a history display that charts Tacoma General's evolution from the founding of Tacoma's first hospital on April 29, 1882. Many employees reminisced over historic photos that showed the hospital throughout the years.

    "We were Tacoma’s first hospital, back when only about 1,000 people lived in this city," said Diane Cecchettini, RN, President and CEO of MultiCare Health System. "That was seven years before the territory of Washington was even granted statehood. Through two world wars and many other conflicts; 24 U.S. presidents; the invention of electricity, the automobile, the X-ray, penicillin, the airplane; and countless other milestones, Tacoma General has stayed true to our mission: Quality Patient Care."

    On April 29, 1882, the Fannie C. Paddock Memorial Hospital opened its doors to the community in Old Town neighborhood of Tacoma. In 1889, the hospital moved to a new building on South J Street, thanks to a donation from the Tacoma Land Co., which also gave land for the nearby Wright Park. The hospital's name changed to Tacoma General in 1912.

    "You never know where you're going until you know where you've been," said Dr. Rob Roth, who came to Tacoma General in 1981. "Maybe in another 40 years, somebody will be telling stories about us."

    A few other facts about Tacoma General Hospital:

    • The hospital’s first location in the Old Town section of Tacoma was in a former dance hall.

    • That first year, the hospital staff provided care for 78 patients, mostly men working in local industries such as logging. Fast forward to 2011--Tacoma General had 14,992 inpatient admissions.

    • The first School of Nursing graduating class was in 1897. The first applicant was George Smith, a former patient who decided to devote his life to nursing. He was the first male graduate of a nursing program in the state. He ended up working at Tacoma General until 1931.

    • In 1947, construction was completed on this building, Jackson Hall, which was named for an early hospital leader and designed as a home for student nurses.

    • In 1976, the 100,000th baby was born at Tacoma General. Today, we average about 3,000 newborns per year.

    The Tacoma General Hospital School of Nursing, which ran from 1885 to 1980, produced 2,216 graduates. Since 1999, the Alumnae Association has given more than $612,000 in grants and scholarships in support of nursing education and leadership, said association President Cheryl Davis, RN.

    Shelly Mullin, RN, Vice President and Administrator of MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, started her career at the hospital in 1986 as a student nurse, then worked in the Emergency Department.

    "We've always been among the first to embrace new technology and medical advances," Mullin said.

    She highlighted the hospital's purchase of its first X-ray in 1900, shortly after the device was invented, and more recently, the pioneering robotic-assisted surgeries that began in 2005.

    "Just as they have for 130 years, our patients and our community trust us to provide quality care every day," Cecchettini said. "Thanks to you and all of our staff, we are able to live that commitment, putting patients at the center of all we do. I am so proud of how we have sustained our 130-year legacy together and will continue to advance it in the years to come. For it is truly a legacy that we have inherited from those who came before us. And it is our privilege to steward that legacy and pass it on in even better shape to those who will come after us."

    For more information about Tacoma General’s 130th anniversary, visit multicare.org/tacoma-general-130th.

    Posted on Apr 30, 2012 in Tacoma