MultiCare Rockwood Clinic was founded in 1930. The Roaring 20s were a distant memory, the stock market crash of 1929 had plunged America into the Great Depression and the Inland Northwest was struggling along with the rest of the country.
Despite uncertain financial times, a young doctor began building what was to become one of the Northwest's largest outpatient clinics and regional referral centers for multi-specialty care. Dr. William W. Robinson, a Spokane native and graduate of Rush Medical College in Chicago, returned to Spokane in 1930 to establish a medical practice. With 10 patients and a staff of four, Robinson opened Rockwood Clinic Hospital on Spokane's South Hill.
Robinson promised, "The hospital will be giving a new type of service where a complete examination and necessary medical and surgical services will be available under one roof under the close personal supervision of the physician in charge."
Rockwood Clinic prospered until World War II when many of its physicians were drafted or enlisted, forcing the hospital to close. In 1945, Robinson returned to Spokane and began recruiting his colleagues to join him in a new style of medical practice. Individual doctor's offices were being replaced by group practices, similar to the Mayo Clinic model.
By 1957 Rockwood Clinic moved to a larger facility on Eighth Avenue in a rapidly growing area that was becoming the medical center of the Inland Northwest. Physicians were added to the staff and in the 1980s planning began for a new facility. In the fall of 1987 a 103,000-square-foot clinic opened on East Fifth Avenue.
This location still serves as the Clinic's main location with primary care and many specialties located on the campus. It continues to serve as the hub of the Rockwood Clinic satellite system offering multi-specialty, urgent care and primary care (family practice, pediatrics and internal medicine on site).
Over the years, Rockwood Clinic physicians were some of the first in the Northwest to provide radiation therapy, pediatric intensive care and laparoscopic surgery. Additionally, Rockwood's physicians have received national recognition for advances in arthritis treatment using new drug therapies. In 1997 Dr. Rex T. Hoffmeister received the National Arthritis Foundation Virginia Engalitcheff Award for Impact on Quality of Life for his pivotal role in the use of methotrexate as a primary treatment in rheumatoid arthritis.
Today, Rockwood Clinic sees more than 160,000 patients a year and employs more than 350 physicians and providers and a total of more than 1,500 employees. Rockwood Clinic offers more than 60 specialties and operates from multiple primary clinical locations, providing concentrated medical and urgent care services and many other specialty care locations throughout Spokane and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Rockwood Clinic is the largest freestanding outpatient diagnostic and treatment center between Central Washington and Minneapolis and is home to the region's most comprehensive and skilled medical and health care experts.
Rockwood Clinic continues in the spirit of its founder, Dr. William Robinson, by providing compassionate, comprehensive, integrated care in "a tradition of caring."
Excerpted from "The Inland Northwest A Modern History of A Dynamic Region," by Kay F. Reinartz.