Community celebrates Pomerado Hospital’s 35th anniversary
By Emily Sorensen
Pomerado Hospital celebrated its 35th anniversary on Saturday.
Staff shared fond memories of the hospital’s beginning amid free health screenings for the public, tours, presentations, food and free activities for the kids. Free blood sugar, blood pressure and skin cancer screenings were available, as well as tours of the hospital, acupuncture demonstrations and chair massages. There were also nurses on hand to answer questions. A children’s activity corner offered free face painting, balloon art, cookie decorating and temporary tattoos.
Former Channel 10 news anchor Carol LeBeau emceed the presentations, providing warm introductions to the speakers, who included president of the Palomar Pomerado Health board of directors Ted Kleiter, and Poway Mayor Don Higginson, who spoke of their memories of the hospital in its early days.
“Pomerado Hospital has brought hundreds of lives into the world … and saved hundreds of lives,” said Higginson.
Higginson spoke on his history with the hospital, including the birth of his children, and about the motion he passed in the late 1980s, where the first Poway baby born in Pomerado Hospital in January of each year would get a $50 savings bond, something that is still done today.
A proclamation was issued by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, commending the hospital for its 35th anniversary, and officially declaring April 21 to be “Pomerado Hospital Day.”
For the staff, it was an emotional day full of memories, including Kleiter, who reminisced about the construction of the hospital.
“I was the first administrator in charge of building the hospital,” said Kleiter. “I literally brought it out of the ground and oversaw the first 70 percent of construction.”
Kleiter was unexpectedly tapped to lead the Palomar Medical Center after the death of administrator Rod McLeod and was unable to oversee the end of the hospital’s construction. Still, it holds a special place in his heart.
“The reason it’s so close to me is I was involved in construction, the health planning, picking the site, the architecture and the planning,” said Kleiter. “Administrator Rod McLeod had that faith in me.”
Former nurse Kathleen Slevin also shared her memories of the hospital’s beginning. Slevin worked as an operating room nurse at the hospital’s opening.
“We had intercoms because there weren’t enough staff,” said Slevin of the hospital’s early days. “It was very small. The fourth floor was closed.”
More than anything, though, Slevin remembered the closeness of the staff. “It was very close, like a family. Everyone knew everybody.”
Slevin, who left nursing to work as a teacher, still volunteers at the hospital. “My grandsons were born there,” said Slevin. “They call it ‘Grandma’s hospital.’”
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