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San Diego's Scripps Mercy Hospital Celebrates 125th Anniversary

The building that housed the first Mercy facility is pictured in this undated photo.
Scripps Health
The building that housed the first Mercy facility is pictured in this undated photo.

Mercy Hospital admitted its first patient on this date 125 years ago, and Scripps Health celebrated the milestone Thursday with a display of historical photos, medical exhibits and the installation of a time capsule.

The first patient — a malaria victim named John O'Connell — was admitted on July 9, 1890, after the Sisters of Mercy opened a five-bed medical facility called St. Joseph's Dispensary above a men's clothing store in downtown San Diego, at what is now Sixth Avenue and Market Street. O'Connell was discharged 13 days later, according to Scripps Health.

Another first-year patient underwent the first cesarean section to be performed on the West Coast.

Scripps Mercy Hospital is now a modern, full-service facility in Hillcrest.

"There were about 100 patients admitted to the hospital in its first year in 1890, compared to more than 32,000 annually today, so we have certainly grown with the communities we serve," said Tom Gammiere, the hospital's CEO. "And while there have been a lot of changes in health care, the heart and soul of our mission has remained the same — to provide high-quality, compassionate care to those in need."

In 1891, the facility was moved to a 10-acre site in Hillcrest, on University Avenue between Sixth and Eighth avenues.

A new six-story hospital under the name Mercy Hospital was opened in 1924 at its current location at Fifth Avenue and Washington Street. The facility joined the Scripps Health system in 1995 and today Scripps Mercy Hospital includes campuses in Hillcrest and Chula Vista.