September 23, 2023
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Opinion: After 75 years, the best is yet to come for French Hospital in SLO


By Alan Iftiniuk

After one of the most challenging years the health care industry has ever faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, French Hospital Medical Center has reason to celebrate. The facility has reached a significant milestone: serving the community of San Luis Obispo County for 75 years.

In 1946, Edison French, MD, set out to meet the health care needs of the residents of San Luis Obispo. After serving in the Navy Medical Corps, Dr. French purchased the San Luis Sanitarium at 1160 Marsh St. and the doors of the original French Hospital opened to serve the county of San Luis Obispo.

Alan Iftiniuk

Soon the county’s population grew to more than 50,000 people, triggering the need for specialist doctors. Dr. French worked hard to recruit more medical specialists to the area, like SLO County’s first pediatrician, Dr. Louis Tedone. Dr. French’s vision was to provide exceptional health care to local residents.

As the community continued to grow, Dr. French spearheaded efforts to expand the hospital and the services it provided. Thus, French Hospital opened its doors at its current location on Johnson Avenue in 1972.

French Hospital Medical Center has deep roots in this community and strong partnerships that have formed over our many years of service. We are incredibly proud to serve this great community.

From the beginning, we made a commitment to provide exceptional health care for every stage of life, combining physicians from top medical schools, the latest advanced technologies, and safe, quality care for our residents. We feel we have accomplished that and more, and we look forward to the future of our facility.

Dr. French passed away in 1985, but his memory and the contributions he made to local health care are still appreciated. He cared deeply for his patients, staff, and for the community in which he served, and everyone at French Hospital Medical Center shares that same passion.

When Catholic Healthcare West/Dignity Health took over the hospital in 2004, we committed ourselves to exceeding the community’s health care expectations through stable leadership, improved financial strength, consistent recruiting of the very best care givers, best-in-class medical technology, and state-of-the-art facilities.

We are still committed to being at the forefront of health care. Currently, French Hospital is building the hospital of the future, “Your New French Hospital,” a culmination of Dr. French’s vision of superior health care and a pledge to care for our community, well into the future.

Your New French Hospital will transform the current campus and set the standard for care on the Central Coast with:

• A new four-story 85,000 square foot patient care tower with 56 new single patient rooms;

• A 16-bed (all state-of-the-art private, family-oriented) neonatal intensive care unit;

• An additional 10 intensive care unit beds, bringing the total to 21 (all single rooms);

• A new front entrance, lobby, and dining area;

• Interfaith chapel open to all for prayer, meditation, learning dialogue and group services;

• Holistic grounds and healing spaces;

• A rooftop garden terrace providing space for sensory stimulation, socializing, and outdoor activities;

• Expanded space for imaging, labs, pharmacy and more;

• Enhanced and advanced technologies and services;

• A helistop helicopter landing pad for critical emergencies;

• New parking pavilion.

These additions will further cement French as a state-of-the-art, acute care hospital on not only the Central Coast but throughout the nation. Earlier this year, the hospital was recognized as a Healthgrades 2021 Patient Safety Excellence Award recipient, placing our facility in the top 10% of all short-term acute care hospitals in the nation.

French’s Oppenheimer Family Center for Emergency Medicine is the area’s most advanced emergency services center. We are also home to the Copeland, Forbes, and Rossi Cardiac Care Center — the county’s premier cardiac center, providing the latest cardiac and imaging technology — and the Hearst Cancer Resource Center offering free education, resources and support to cancer patients and their families.

Together with Arroyo Grande Community Hospital and Marian Regional Medical Center in Santa Maria, we make up Dignity Health Central Coast, a network of hospitals, physicians, and outpatient services, including physician offices, ambulatory surgery centers, technologically advanced laboratories and imaging centers, and a full-service home health agency.

As we celebrate 75 years of care, everyone at French Hospital Medical Center looks forward to the future and continuing to serve our thriving community with the highest quality health care.

To learn more about “Your New French Hospital,” visit The community is also invited to follow #75YearsofCare on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

• Alan Iftiniuk has been president and chief executive officer of French Hospital Medical Center since 2004.