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After a century in downtown Hillsboro, Tuality Community Hospital continues to grow.



In many ways, the story of Tuality Healthcare is the story of Hillsboro.

It's a story of rapid growth, and a story of change.

Like Hillsboro, the hospital started small, but has blossomed over the years into a major player in Washington County.

Tuality celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, a mark of accomplishment few organizations in Washington County can claim.

When Tuality first opened its doors in 1918, the facility was drastically different from what patients at the hospital experience today.

A century ago, Hillsboro was a very different place. The city constituted a few blocks in what is now downtown, with several saw mills, blacksmiths shops, and a few general stores. The city boasted a population of about 2,000, and the telephone was a new arrival to the small city.

Local physicians regularly made house calls in horse-drawn buggies, performing surgeries in homes.

It is here that Tuality got its start, in a small two-story home at the corner of Seventh Avenue and Baseline, across the street from Tuality's current location. Local caregiver Minnie Jones had transformed her small farmhouse into a care home, where she took care of the elderly.

"At the time, doctors operated in their own homes," said Steve Krautscheid, Tuality's vice president of ancillary services and a historian of the hospital. "Doctors came back after (World War I) and visited patients in her care home, and they noticed how clean it was."

Patients would normally be sent from Hillsboro to Forest Grove for more extensive care, but local doctors were so impressed with Jones' facility, they moved operating tables and other equipment to the home, opening Tuality, then known as Jones Hospital.

'Exciting trajectory'

No one knows the actual day the hospital officially opened its doors, according to Tuality spokeswoman Lindsay Coon. With no actual birthday, the hospital is spending the year celebrating.

In April, the city of Hillsboro made a proclamation honoring Tuality for its century-long commitment to Washington County. This summer, Tuality employees will serve as the grand marshal of Hillsboro's Fourth of July parade.

The modern incarnation of Tuality was born after Jones' death in 1952, when her estate put the hospital up for sale, Krautscheid said. The hospital was purchased by area doctors for $250,000 and renamed Tuality Community Hospital.

"They bought it and said they were donating it to the community," said Krautscheid, who was born at Tuality and raised in Hillsboro. "I think that's one of the most spectacular stories of a community hospital that I've ever heard."

Tuality President Lori James-Nielsen, who took over at the hospital earlier this year, said Tuality is continuing to grow and change, with several new projects in the works.

"We're on this exciting trajectory," she said. "It's a new Tuality."

The hospital formed a partnership with Oregon Health & Science University hospital in 2016, providing resources the community hospital never imagined, she said.

Tuality is planning $18 million in improvements to its healthcare system this year, opening new primary care centers in Forest Grove and Reedville and new ambulatory services in Hillsboro next year. It plans to start offering bariatric surgery soon and is the only hospital in the state offering intraoperative CT scans.

'Commited to our community'

Through Tuality's association with OHSU, the hospital has seen an influx of resources, James-Nielsen said, including patients from the Oregon Coast, and Southern Oregon.

"Rural hospitals across the state are requesting to transfer patients to OHSU, and we're now a location for those patients to be transferred," Krautscheid said. If we can provide that service here, it's easier for patients to get to, and we can provide a high level of service here that rural services can't. We really are becoming a destination."

The hospital is expanding its women's and children's services with a new neonatal intensive care unit, said Joe Hardman, Tuality's chief medical officer. For decades, the hospital specialized in women's services. Jones helped deliver babies in the hospital's delivery rooms.

"There's a nice circle there," he said. "We're coming back to Minnie's vision of providing outstanding care for women and children in the community."

Tuality has grown tremendously over the decades, Krautscheid said, adapting to changes in the healthcare industry.

"Today, it's very competitive and insurance is driving a lot of what's done," he said. "How do you take whatever is thrown at you and still be able to make it work for yourself? To be able to say that for 100 years you've been able to move along different trajectories and succeed, that's great."

"The business models have evolved tremendously, but at the heart of who we are, that's why we exist," James-Nielsen said. "From the days of Minnie to now, we're here to care for the community."

The next 100 years will continue to bring innovation to the medical industry, said Hardman, but no matter what, Tuality will retain its community approach to medicine.

"Our organization is home grown," Hardman said. "We started in Hillsboro, we're still in Hillsboro and we are dedicated to Hillsboro. We're based here and we have that commitment to our community and all of Washington County."



By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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