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The first patient was treated at San Antonio Hospital in 1907. At the time, Upland was something of an up-and-coming community with nearly 1,500 residents, six churches, two banks, and several busy merchant establishments. The hospital was located at the corner of San Antonio Avenue and Arrow Highway. The quaint configuration of that stone building placed the hospital's operating room upstairs in the southwest corner, Katherine Weber, wife of Upland's pioneer physician, Arthur L. Weber, recalls in her history of the hospital. The men's ward was downstairs in the northeast corner so Dr. John Craig, the strapping young son of the hospital's founder, Dr. William Craig, found himself much in demand both as a surgeon and anesthesiologist, and as the only member of the hospital staff who was strong enough to carry a patient from the operating room downstairs to the men's ward.
During its first six months of operation, from November 1907 through May 1908, the hospital admitted 45 patients, and performed 17 operations. There were no births. In 1916, The Upland News reported that the hospital had treated 290 patients, delivered 38 babies, and performed 152 surgeries during the previous year. At the same time, the hospital shareholders were already discussing building an addition to the hospital. The room rates were $25 per week for a small room; all other rooms were $27 per week. The operating room fee was $15. First year wages for a student nurse enrolled in the hospital's training school were $1.50 per month.
San Antonio dietary staff served patients their meals on fine china with sterling flatware. Linen napkins in silver napkin rings and fresh flowers graced every tray. Wine was available for lunch and dinner - rosé, burgundy, and white. This tradition continued even through the 1970s. The sterling silver is gone now, but meals are still served on real china with fresh flowers on every tray.
By 1938, the room charge was $6.25 per day and the operating room fee had risen to $20. The fee for anesthesia was $16. The maternity ward was still a bargain. Mrs. Weber recalls that the cost of a ten-day stay - the standard for the 1920s and 1930s - was $60 and a new mother was confined to bed for the entire stay, forbidden to rise even to use the bathroom. The national average for today's maternity stay is two days and hospital charges are more than $8,000.
Building costs have followed a similar stunning trajectory. In 1941, the West Pavilion was added at a cost of $3.50 per square foot. The cost of the proposed new emergency department, patient tower, and renovated lobby and gift shop that are planned to take the hospital into its next decade were estimated in 2006 to be between $500 and $700 per square foot. Even more incredibly, a common financial guide in healthcare planning estimates a per-patient bed cost of $1.45 million!
The growth San Antonio Community Hospital has experienced in its 100-plus year history has been transformational. In 2006, the hospital treated 14,750 inpatients and 138,000 outpatients. Nearly 62,000 people received treatment in the hospital's emergency department. The medicine practiced in 1907 by the hospital's team of dedicated physicians and nurses would seem rudimentary by modern standards.
Today, the hospital's services and techniques are at the leading edge of medical science in ways that the hospital's forebears could not have imagined, much less dared to wish for. Still, over time, two constants have steered San Antonio's evolution from a modest local hospital to a multi-facility, billion-dollar-a-year regional healthcare operation.
One is its unwavering commitment to community, quality, caring, and integrity. The second is its people - an intangible but undeniable spirit instilled in the hospital's employees and medical staff. Long-tenured employment is the norm at San Antonio. And if you ask people why they stay, an almost circular logic applies. They will tell you they stay because of the people.