In the mid-1950s, the East Valley looked very different than it does today. Chandler was a town of just 9,500, surrounded by acres and acres of farmland.
A drive to Gilbert, Tempe or Mesa was a day's expedition, and Sun Lakes and Ahwatukee Foothills did not even exist. In fact, the foothills of South Mountain were then a popular weekend destination for families who drove slow miles on a dusty, rutted Chandler Boulevard for country outings.
The nearest hospital was miles away in Mesa, too far if the medical need was urgent. Members of Chandler's Lions Club decided in 1956 that the time had come for a community hospital, and the idea of Chandler Community Hospital was born.
Building A Community Hospital
East Valley citizens spent five years in their pursuit of a community hospital. Their first challenge was to find a way to fund the hospital. They decided to follow the example of Casa Grande, where citizens had formed a hospital district, as allowed by Arizona law, to publicly fund the building and equipping of a hospital.
In 1959, state officials approved creation of Maricopa Hospital District Number One, a 250-square-mile area extending from Baseline Road south to Sun Lakes and from Meridian Road to 40th Street in Ahwatukee Foothills. Voters in the newly created hospital district approved bonds to build a 40-bed hospital costing $650,000.
One final obstacle stood between the community and their goal of a hospital: the state's requirement that they have cash for two years of operations before the hospital opened. Citizens canvassed the community, asking for whatever donation people would give. The drive netted $21,000 enough to open the hospital's doors.
On July 17, 1961, East Valley citizens celebrated the opening of a truly community-based hospital, Chandler Community Hospital.