History of Banner Lassen Medical Center
Lassen County Hospital was built on a site located along the Susan River, just west of the Susanville cemetery. This two-story, 12-room house was a combination senior citizen home and poor house and was staffed by a live in couple and a contract physician.
Lassen County built a new hospital at 560 Hospital Lane to accommodate the rapid population growth caused by the arrival of the railroad and growth of the timber industry.
However, shortly after the new county hospital opened, the Fruit Growers Supply Co. built their own hospital in 1921 named Riverside Hospital. For the next four decades, Riverside Hospital was the main medical facility for the community while Lassen County Hospital became an indigent care facility.
Upon recommendation by a special study committee, Lassen County built a new replacement hospital named Lassen Memorial Hospital, making Lassen County Hospital the long-term care annex. In 1964 the hospital received its first three-year accreditation by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) .
The state fire marshal required the county to install a full sprinkler system in the Annex. At this time it was also noted that 49 patients were crowded into the Annex and the hospital was so overcrowded that patients were cared for in the halls. In 1976 a new wing was added to the hospital, which included laboratory and the emergency department.
The 1970s and 1980s were financially difficult years for the hospital. Prop 13 froze tax revenues and reimbursement shrunk with the advent of Medicare DRGs and reduced Blue Cross reimbursement. The County Supervisors and Tax Payers Association constantly challenged the hospital's budget. The county finally decided to sell the hospital to a private organization.
Eskaton purchased the hospital and embarked on some major renovation projects. The first Birthing Center was opened, a four-bed ICU addition was constructed, and a modular physician office building was added in front of the Annex. In order to strengthen the organization, Eskaton began to look for a merger partner; however, felt that Lassen Community Hospital needed a partner closer to Susanville and began discussions with the hospitals in Reno.
St. Mary's Hospital in Reno purchased Lassen Community Hospital as part of their rural network. In 1988 a new surgery wing was added to the hospital. However, after several years of financial losses St. Mary's decided to divest itself of its rural network including Lassen Community Hospital. In 1990 the community organized a Hospital District to buy the hospital, but the voters defeated the bond issue to fund the purchase. Over the next several years St. Mary's was unable to find a buyer for Lassen Community Hospital, so they contracted with Lutheran Health System to manage it.
Lutheran Health System assumed management responsibility for the hospital. After determining that the existing facility did not have the needed capacity, nor did it meet state seismic codes, they developed a plan for a replacement hospital located in a new Healthcare Park.
Since St. Mary's had decided to divest themselves of the hospital, a plan was developed for the Healthcare District to fund the new hospital with a low interest loan and a bond issue. However, the voters once again defeated the bond issue. Since Lutheran Health System was able to achieve financial success in their operation of the hospital, they offered to buy the hospital from St. Mary's with the agreement that Lutheran Health System would finance the construction of a new hospital.
Lutheran Health System purchased the hospital from St. Mary's. In that same year, Lutheran Health System merged with Samaritan Health and became Banner Health.
Forty acres of land was purchased north of town and the construction of Banner Lassen Medical Center started.
The new Banner Lassen Medical Center opened in May.