FLASHBACK FRIDAY: Burbank Community Hospital

By On March 31, 2017

Way before Saint Joseph’s Hospital was the main source of Medical care in Burbank, there was a place on Olive Ave. and Fifth Street called the Burbank Community Hospital.

Small for its size by modern standards it was a great step forward in medical care for the citizens of Burbank in the early 20th century. Over the years it was modernized several times and was considered a state of the art hospital until the larger St Joe’s was built.

The BCH had the backing of many local businessmen as well as some famous board members, including the great Roy Rogers, who was a great fund raiser for the hospital. Being the local place for medical care, your writer here, was born there in the 1950’s. So were many of the local children in the early days of Burbank.

In 2001 the hospital closed due to financial troubles, The Burbank Leader had this to say:

“The hospital was founded in 1907 by Elmer H. Thompson, a young doctor who arrived in Burbank from Wisconsin two years earlier with his pregnant wife, a French poodle and a bicycle. The Burbank Community Hospital, the two-story building at Olive Avenue and 5th Street was the first hospital in the San Fernando Valley. Throughout the years, the institution grew in size, but it still remained a small community hospital that served generations of local families. In 1991, 60 doctors purchased the facility, renaming it in honor of the founder.

THOMPSON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL TIMELINE

1907: Physician Elmer H. Thompson opens the 16-bed Burbank Community Hospital, the first hospital in the San Fernando Valley, in a converted two-story building at Olive Avenue and 5th Street.

1910: First wing of hospital is completed.

1925: Hospital is expanded to 50 beds and 15 bassinets.

1943: Thompson sells hospital to the Monte Sano Foundation.

1958: First open-heart surgery in Burbank is performed at the hospital.

1991: Burbank Community Hospital is renamed Thompson Memorial Medical Center Hospital after 60 physicians purchase the operation from the Burbank Community Hospital Foundation, which retains ownership of the facility and land.

1992: The medical center opens the area’s only 24-hour occupational medicine program.

1993: Thompson Memorial becomes the first hospital in the San Fernando Valley to allow chiropractors to use its facilities.

1997: Kentucky-based Vencor Hospital chain takes over the medical center.

2001: Thompson Memorial is demolished.”

The Hospital was a great institution that served Burbank and the surrounding communities for nearly 100 years.

circa 1907

circa 1920

circa 1930

circa 1950

circa 2000

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lost-in-burbank-book-coverSlowly fading with the city’s ever-changing landscape, the places and people of Burbank’s past tell a vibrant story. Before the arrival of Warner Bros. and Walt Disney, First National Pictures built  its original studio lot on Olive Ave in 1926. For over sixty years, Lockheed Aircraft Company produced some of the nation’s best airplanes where the massive Empire Shopping Center now stands. Heavyweight champion James Jeffries turned his Burbank ranch home and barn into a beloved landmark and boxing venue. Inventor Joseph Wesley Fawkes’s scheme to build a monorail to Los Angeles became a local laughingstock.  Diehard Burbankers Wes Clark and Michael Mc Daniel collect these and many more forgotten local stories where they can finally be found.

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