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HN View Congratulations to Sky Lakes Medical Center

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H&N View: Congratulations to Sky Lakes Medical Center

Hospital news | Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Contact: Thomas Hottman

The H&N View: Credit those who made the medical center what it is today

Staff, leaders, and most of all, those who saw a need
Congratulations to Sky Lakes Medical Center.

Becker's Hospital Review recently named the community-owned Klamath Falls institution as one of the nation's hundred top community hospitals. It's one of three Oregon hospitals to make the list and the only one in Eastern Oregon. Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center in Medford and Salem Hospital were the other two.

Becker's, based in Chicago, puts out four health-care publications, including the Hospital Review and produces weekly email newsletters as well, and appears to be well-regarded in the industry and, without a doubt, health care is an industry.

Sky Lakes is the biggest employer in the area, with about 1,200 employees. It's also in charge of a critical part of the local area's quality of life.

The medical center started life as a Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital in 1965, replacing smaller, privately owned hospitals. The Presbyterian Church served as a sponsoring organization for the effort to build a community hospital, but it didn't play an active role in the actual hospital operations.

The money for the facility came from donations, big and small, from throughout the Klamath area. In the 1970s, the name was changed to Merle West Medical Center in honor of Merle West, a Klamath Falls box factory owner, who made a $1 million bequest to the hospital in his will. West, who owned the Winema Hotel, also is remembered for the scholarship program he funded.

The medical center was renamed Sky Lakes Medical Center in 2007.  

Credit for the expansion of services, that have made the term "medical center" more descriptive of its mission than "hospital," goes to the leadership by the medical center's board, the administration, the staff and, above all, the people who saw the need. They did the hard work of rounding up the funds, especially in the tough days of the early '60s, when the fund drive was in trouble. But the people came through again.

Congratulations to them, too.