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French Hospital in SLO celebrates 75 years of providing health services 

click to enlarge CARING FOR SLO COUNTY Edison French converted the San Luis Sanitarium at 1160 Marsh St. in 1946 to open the doors of the original French Hospital. - PHOTO COURTESY OF DIGNITY HEALTH
  • PHOTO COURTESY OF DIGNITY HEALTH
  • CARING FOR SLO COUNTY Edison French converted the San Luis Sanitarium at 1160 Marsh St. in 1946 to open the doors of the original French Hospital.

French Hospital Medical Center has a rich history of providing medical services with compassion to the San Luis Obispo County community—and this month marks the hospital's 75th anniversary.

According to Sara San Juan, spokesperson for Dignity Health Central Coast, Edison French, MD, founded French after serving in the Navy Medical Corps.

When he returned to San Luis Obispo, he purchased the San Luis Obispo Sanitarium at 1160 Marsh St. to repurpose the building. He opened the doors of the original French Hospital in 1946.

In the years that followed—referred to as The Golden Years by health care practitioners, San Juan said—the population grew to more than 50,000 individuals and the need for specialist doctors became apparent.

In 1972, in an effort to address this need, French decided to expand on the facility and services offered by opening a larger hospital at its current Johnson Avenue location.

French passed away in 1985, but his legacy and his contributions to the local health care industry are still appreciated to this day.

Along with his transformative views on practicing medicine, French was a physician who showed deep care for his patients and staff, and for the community in which he served, San Juan said.

Currently French Hospital Medical Center has 98 beds and serves more than 4,700 inpatients and nearly 112,000 outpatients, and has more than 20,000 emergency visits annually.

Alan Iftiniuk, French Hospital Medical Center president and CEO, told New Times that over the past 75 years French has developed and nurtured deep roots in San Luis Obispo, and those strong relationships are incredibly important to the health of both the hospital and the community.

"Our physicians are exceptionally skilled professionals that take great pride in their work and caring for their patients. Their outstanding efforts transcend beyond the walls of our hospital to include community service, serving on community boards, and being remarkable representatives of our facility," Iftiniuk said.

Those practitioners have seen great success over the years, with their combined dedication to providing safe, quality care coupled with French's state-of-the-art facility, which enables them to offer the latest technologies and programs to their patients.

"The true beneficiaries of this collaboration are the patients we are privileged to care for," Iftiniuk said.

That sentiment was reinvigorated during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iftiniuk said providing safe medical care was a collaborative undertaking.

"We attribute the success of our hospital during the pandemic to the outstanding relationships we have with community organizations, and our exceptional team of leaders, physicians, nurses, and support staff who moved swiftly to make the adaptations necessary to safely care for our patients and community," he said. "We were able to adapt in a manner that maintained very high levels of safety for both our staff and patients, while maintaining the same quality care our patients expect and deserve."

As the community continues to grow and rely on the hospital's quality of care, French Hospital is building the hospital of the future, dubbed Your New French Hospital.

This new vision will transform the current campus and set the standard for care on the Central Coast with a new four-story, 85,000-square-foot patient care tower with 56 new single-patient rooms; a 16-bed neonatal intensive care unit; 10 additional intensive care unit beds; an interfaith chapel; holistic grounds; a helicopter landing pad for critical emergencies; and more.

To learn more about Your New French Hospital and its commitment to care, visit gobeyondhealth.org or dignityhealth.org.

Fast fact

SLO Legal Assistance Foundation (SLOLAF) Tenant Clinic has moved to SLO Superior Court on July 13. Members of the public will need to use the 1050 Monterey St. entrance to access the clinic. It provides free help to low-income or senior (age 60-plus) landlords and tenants who are navigating the eviction process without an attorney. SLOLAF's clinic coordinator is bilingual, English and Spanish; however, interpreter services will be provided for other languages. The clinic can help eligible participants file and respond to unlawful detainer complaints, prepare notices, proof of service, and all other court forms and filings related to evictions. These services are available regardless of citizenship status. The clinic is first-come, first-serve, Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. It's also open Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon only. For more information call (805) 548-0797 or email landlordtenantclinic@slolaf.org. Δ

Staff Writer Karen Garcia wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Send tidbits to strokes@newtimesslo.com.

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