Indian River Medical Center has a long and interesting history dating back to 1932. It is difficult to imagine a time when Indian River County had no hospital at all, but during the Great Depression the nearest hospital was 70 miles away via two lane roads that were not always paved.
Garnett Lunsford Radin, a 29-year-old registered nurse and resourceful woman from Nebraska, purchased a hotel on Old Dixie Highway with $22,000 of her own money and opened the hospital with 21 beds on May 12, 1932. The hospital staff worked under primitive conditions including an artesian well water system and one wood-burning stove providing the building’s only heat. Meals were carried in from an outdoor kitchen.
With little money to keep the hospital afloat, the Vero Beach Chamber of Commerce, now the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, stepped in, leading an effort to create a non-profit corporation and solicit contributions to keep the hospital open.
A Growing Facility
In need of more space for patients, construction began in 1951 on a new site in a residential area on 26th Street in Vero Beach. The new 35-bed facility opened in March 1952 as Indian River Memorial Hospital, dedicated to the memory of those from Indian River County who gave their lives for freedom. It became the nation’s smallest accredited hospital.
In 1958, Governor Leroy Collins approved creation of a public hospital district and two years later it took control of the hospital management. By 1967 the hospital had expanded to 164 beds and a larger facility was needed. The current 128-acre site, located off of 37th Street, between U.S. 1 and Indian River Blvd., was chosen because of its size and central location.
After a 24-year absence, Mrs. Radin returned and immediately went to work as planning coordinator, responsible for the transition to the new facility. The current facility opened on March 29, 1978 with 216 beds.
The hospital continued to grow and become more complex to operate. A volunteer board could not provide the experienced business management needed to compete in the healthcare market. In response to the changing market, the Indian River County Hospital District Board of Trustees voted in 1984 to establish a community, not-for-profit corporation, Indian River Memorial Hospital, Inc., and lease the hospital to that corporation for control of day-to-day operations. The transfer took place on May 1, 1985.
Prestige & Recognition
Since then the hospital has grown to include 332 beds. More than 57,000 people are seen each year in its state-of-the-art Emergency Department. The Heart Center, affiliated with Duke Medicine, opened in 2006. Its outstanding surgical outcomes have earned it top recognition from the Society of Thoracic Surgeons, who named it one of the best cardiac surgery programs in America.
In late 2006, to reflect the transition from a good community hospital to a top-quality medical center, the hospital changed its name from Indian River Memorial Hospital to Indian River Medical Center. Indian River Medical Center is focused on providing quality healthcare to Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola, Polk, Brevard and Seminole counties in Florida.
The level of services and the quality and sophistication of healthcare provided by Indian River Medical Center today couldn’t have even been imagined back in 1932. The entire community can be thankful for the vision and dedication of a young nurse whose professionalism and compassion have resulted in over 80 years of the right care right here.
Mission, Vision & Values
To provide exceptional, patient-centered, evidence-based healthcare to residents of Indian River County and surrounding areas.
To become indispensable for the delivery of healthcare in Indian River County:
- Everyone is dedicated to ensuring an incomparable experience and outstanding service for our patients;
- All providers are working together to deliver the highest quality healthcare at a reasonable cost;
- Continuing to develop as an integrated healthcare system, with specialty care provided (as appropriate) in our community.
- Compassion: Concern for others with a desire to help them.
- Respect: Serving others with high regard, consideration, and concern.
- Excellence: Ability to consistently and constantly exceed the customer’s expectations through continuous learning and improving.
- Accountability: Accepting personal responsibility for our actions and taking ownership of results without blaming others or seeking excuses.
- Teamwork: Cooperative effort by the members of a group or team who hold each other mutually accountable to achieve a common goal.