By Jason KUROSU
With recent changes to Verdugo Hills Hospital following its partnership with Keck Medicine of USC, USC Verdugo Hills officials decided that a reflection on the hospital’s past was in order, prompting a year long project which culminated in the unveiling of a history wall Tuesday night.
The wall consists of a series of panels tracing the hospital’s development, from its beginnings as Charles B. Behrens Memorial Hospital before officially becoming Verdugo Hills Hospital in 1972, to its partnership with USC in 2013. An interactive monitor at the far end of the wall allows visitors to scan through the myriad historical documents discovered by volunteers involved in the wall’s creation.
Tammy Capretta of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital governing board said that in the first year of USC’s partnership with Verdugo Hills Hospital discussions with staff across the hospital called for such a memorializing of the hospital’s long history.
“One message came through that was consistent through all of you: We are excited about our future with USC, but help us remember our past because that’s what makes us special and unique to the Keck Medicine system,” said Capretta. “From that, we came up with the idea that what we needed to do was memorialize those priorities because you are right, your past and your history is truly exquisite.”
Sue Wilder, vice chair of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital Foundation board of directors, and her husband Steve Wilder of the USC Verdugo Hills Hospital governing board, were co-chairs on the project and donated funding for the wall’s construction.
Though the project took approximately a year to put together, Steve Wilder said that it was truly a 40-year effort, when taking into account the history behind the project.
“As we worked on the history exhibit, it became evident that our history was really something to be proud of and that we want to share with others into the future,” said Wilder.
The historical content that makes up the wall was compiled from 20 scrapbooks found in the hospital’s basement. Tina Marie Ito, a member of the USC Verdugo Hills Foundation board of directors, was involved in sorting through the documents, photographs and newspaper clippings which went from possibly disappearing in the hospital’s underbelly to being immortalized as important pieces of both the hospital’s and the region’s history.
“It was great that USC wanted to honor us and respected who we are without changing us,” said Ito, who has been with the hospital for 30 years. “The experience brought up a lot of good memories.”