Mid-Columbia Medical Center

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Mid-Columbia Medical Center (MCMC) is a hospital complex in The Dalles, Oregon. In June 1992, Mid-Columbia Medical Center became the first hospital in the world to implement the Planetree concept of patient-centered care facility wide[verification needed] and in 2007 the hospital was recognised as a "Designated Patient-Centered Hospital", one of five such hospitals in the country.[1] The Mid-Columbia Medical Center Heliport is located one mile northwest of The Dalles in Wasco County, Oregon.


The original hospital in The Dalles, Oregon was started in 1901 by pioneer doctors, Dr. Belle Cooper Rinehart and Dr. Mary Powell Johnson in the Rinehart family home.

Dr. Belle was the widow of a physician and mother of four young boys when she had her mother move in to care for her children and she began studying medicine. She graduated from medical school in 1897 and set up her practice near the location of The Dalles Clinic building on East 7th Street.

Belle Cooper Rinehart Ferguson gave high praise to her mother, "…who's encouragement, intelligence and ability imparted strength and determination." Two of Belle's sons became physicians.

In 1903, Dr. Belle Cooper Rinehart married Dr. Elmer Ferguson. They expanded their home and enlarged the hospital, which came to be known as The Dalles Hospital. Dr. John Reuter became their partner in their practice and hospital.

Other hospital expansions occurred in 1912 and 1937. They had an approximate 20-bed capacity.

When World War II caused a shortage of nurses, The Dalles General Hospital opened a nursing school. Doctors served as nursing instructors until the school closed in 1951.

In 1959, donations from generous local citizens, businesses, physicians and hospital staff bring to life visions of a modern new hospital on 19th St., the beginnings of a new era in local healthcare.

The new hospital was described as one of the most modern hospitals in the country with its electric beds, electric doctor registry (light board), the still to purify tap water in the central supply, and the latest in mercury vapor illumination in the parking lot.

The hospital building included the kitchen, laundry, maintenance and supplies on the 1st floor, administration, emergency, pharmacy, lab, x-ray, and maternity on 2nd floor, medical patients on 4th and surgical patients on 3rd floor. The mental hold locked room was located on 4A where the Sleep Center Monitoring/Scoring Room is located.

In 1979, twenty years after opening, the hospital expands by 20,000 SF to accommodate more patients with more beds and other improvements.

In 1982, the hospital jumps ahead of most other Oregon businesses when it opens Great ’n Small, offering employees an on-site option for child care and child development services.

In 1983, Ancillary service departments are remodeled and the hospital changes its name to Mid-Columbia Medical Center to more accurately reflect its emergence as a regional resource for comprehensive healthcare. The organization restructures into an independent parent corporation and several corporate entities, which include the hospital, home health and other programs.

This year also sees the establishment of the Mid-Columbia Health Foundation. Established in 1983, the Foundation strives everyday to bring hearts together to create a strong, caring and healthy community. The Mid-Columbia Health Foundation harnesses donations of all sizes to maximize that gift.

In 1989, MCMC agrees to become the first hospital to adopt the Planetree model of patient-centered care facility-wide. The transformation will involve a near-complete architectural makeover, a massive training program involving the entire hospital staff and many other significant changes designed to “personalize, humanize and demystify” the hospital experience for patients.

In 1990, Dr. Bill Hamilton and Dr. Hal Sessions performed the first laparoscopic gall bladder surgeries in the Gorge at MCMC. Patients took home a VHS tape of their surgery.

In 1992, MCMC’s remodel is complete, transforming the traditional hospital into a comfortable “center of healing” and ushering in the Planetree era. MCMC is visited by acclaimed journalist Bill Moyers, who documents the hospital transformation in his popular PBS series “Healing and the Mind.” As a result of this and other international media coverage, MCMC will in the ensuing years host hundreds of curious healthcare leaders and personnel from around the world.

In 1996, With the Planetree transformation elevating MCMC to the forefront of innovative hospitals, efforts continue to improve the hospital experience for patients and facilitate more complete healing. The Center for Mind-Body Medicine opens, offering stress management, exercise, nutrition counseling and an array of non-traditional therapies to address patients’ physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual and environmental needs.


  1. ^ Lorraine Steefel (2008-06-16). "Strong Roots: Oregon Hospital a Pioneer in Patient-centered Planetree Concept". Nurse Week. Retrieved 2008-06-19. 

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Coordinates: 45°35′15″N 121°09′51″W / 45.5875°N 121.16429°W / 45.5875; -121.16429