The History of Bear Valley Community Hospital
In the early 1950’s, residents of Big Bear Valley had a dream of receiving quality healthcare close to home. J.B. Quayle conceived the idea for a hospital in 1949 when he broke his leg skiing and was taken down the mountain in an ambulance (a two hour ride).
The first planning meeting was held in 1950 and the hospital Fund was incorporated. In 1970, the non-profit, government Hospital District was formed in a general election by a 95% favorable vote. The original facility was funded by private contributions; a General Bond Obligation and Hill-Burton funds with land donated by the Bear Valley Mutual Water District.
Brenda Boss – A Leader in Bear Valley
Many have credited Brenda Boss with the presence of the Bear Valley Community Hospital. She served as President of the Hospital Board starting in November 1974. She tirelessly volunteered on the Hospital Auxiliary to raise money to build the hospital. She didn’t feel it was money that slowed the process of making the hospital viable. She felt it was large agencies that govern public hospitals that each had to be consulted and courted. She spoke of how larger agencies did not think Bear Valley had enough people to qualify.
She often spoke of how frightening it would be not to have a hospital on our mountain and the possibility of having to take an ambulance down the hill for a life or death matter. Every step of the way was sought with lots of hard work. She says, “It’s impossible to try and measure it’s success. You can’t guess at the number of lives saved.” Brenda Boss gives credit to Bear Valley Community Hospital with saving her husband’s life.
On dedication day, June 23 1974, Brenda Boss assisted Assemblyman Jerry Lewis in the ribbon cutting ceremony as thousands waited to see the new hospital. Hospital employees guided guests on a tour of the new facility. The hospital officially opened it’s doors on July 5, 1974. Read below what happened on opening day.
Historic Event July 5, 1974 – Community Hospital Doors Open
Bear Valley Community Hospital officially opened it’s doors for patients Friday, July 5 at 6 p.m., and within a matter of hours had serviced 9 persons in the emergency treatment room.
The first emergency, described as “a medical case” arrived at the hospital at 7:05 p.m. and involved a 3-month-old boy.
Other “firsts” for the new hospital included the first X-ray (of a foot) which was taken at 7:15 Friday and the first bed patient, also a medical case, who arrived at 9:45 Friday.
The first patient for a scheduled surgery, Jimmy D. Eckardt of Big Bear Lake arrived at the hospital at 4 p.m. on Monday July 8.
Brenda Boss, hospital board president, said that the emergency room of the hospital had been kept busy “day and night” almost constantly since the hospital opened it’s doors.
She stressed that 24-hour help is available at the hospital through the emergency room and a doctor is always on call. Some people, she said, become confused as to how they could enter the hospital.
Anyone is eligible for help there, Mrs Boss said, whether through their doctor, through the Sheriff’s office, the fire departments, by ambulance, or just by walking through the emergency room door.
Staff assignments at the facility will be announced as soon as they have all been approved, she said.
Brenda Boss Continued Her Efforts
Brenda Boss continued her efforts to provide contracts with larger Medical Groups to give the Hospital District access to consultants and experts in a variety of areas of medical care and hospital administration. As technology was made available more patients were received and treated. This lead Brenda Boss to continue to seek ways to maintain a 24-hour physician on duty at the hospital. This was a goal the hospital often looked towards.
Brenda often went to the local schools to encourage local teenagers to become “Volunteens”. This was a group of teenagers who volunteered their time and service to Bear Valley Community Hospital. Brenda Boss served as the Volunteen Director. The Hospital Auxiliary presented Brenda Boss with a Certificate of Appreciation acknowledging her perseverance in organizing the Auxiliary and her continued support of the organizations endeavors through the years. They presented her with a Lifetime Membership Award on April 18th, 1983. In 1986 Brenda Boss received a National Award for Volunteer Excellence from the American Hospital Association during an annual convention in Toronto, Canada.
Contributions To Support Bear Valley Community Hospital
Brenda Boss was indispensable in collecting funds for the hospital fund expansion. Because of these efforts, among others, donations started pouring in both big and small from various individuals and groups in Big Bear Valley.
Mr. and Mrs. Fred Fluor were major contributors to the hospital and donated $500,000 towards the project. in 1983 Fred Fluor’s widow was invited to Bear Valley Community Hospital to accept a plaque for the part they played in donating monies to make the hospital possible and for the support they provided. Champagne and caked were served and a bouquet of roses were presented to Mrs. Fluor by Mayor John Eminger. He thanked her for the important role they played towards making the hospital a reality.
Escape Ski and Racquet Club presented a check for $5,000 to Mickie Beers President of the Hospital Auxiliary. The check was a result of the proceeds from a Celebrity Tennis Tournament and matching funds donated by Escape.
Bear Valley Community Hospital received life saving equipment in 1979 of a Bourns Bear I Adult Volume Ventilator from Bess Van Atten and the Old Miners Association. The ventilator was purchased after Howard Van Attens life was saved by a manual ventilator after suffering from a heart attack in June 1979. Bess then donated the life saving equipment after her husband went through this medical emergency.
Two anonymous Big Bear residents donated $14,000 towards heart equipment to Bear Valley Community Hospital. The hospital received a Cardiac Monitor and a Defibrillator. It was reported that lives were saved by using the new equipment.
Many more donations came from the local Girl Scout Troop, Big Bear Brownies and many other local agencies/clubs. All wanted to support and maintain a local hospital for valley residents.
Loved And Respected In Bear Valley
Brenda Boss passed away at age 95 on September 11, 2010, she was a resident of Big Bear since 1941. Brenda was loved and respected by many in Bear Valley. She taught in the local schools, was a leader in making Bear Valley Community Hospital a reality and instrumental in the formation of what we now call the Bear Valley Community Healthcare District. She helped raise money for the hospital and local schools along with serving on various boards including the hospital board. She volunteered an enormous amount of time towards making this community better. Brenda Boss has been a woman who was valued for her time, love and the devotion she gave to the community of Big Bear.