To stay open in 1940s, TMC developed perks for employees

Tucson Medical Center is marking its 70th anniversary this year, commemorating the day its first patient was admitted, on Nov. 9, 1944.

In late 1943, the community raised a quarter of a million dollars to finance the conversion of the Desert Sanatorium to Tucson Medical Center – but that was just the start of the process. After the Desert San owner, Anna Erickson, donated the facility to the community, it was up to the Board of Trustees and the new hospital administration to keep TMC staffed and operating.

TMC opened to the public with a small workforce and a few rooms in November 1944. Because TMC was so far out of town along a rough dirt road, many hospital employees lived on the campus, commuting to work on foot.

Staff members at main entrance, 1948

Staff members at main entrance, 1948

By the time the hospital welcomed the community to a big open house on Feb. 25, 1945, TMC boasted 25 RNs, most of them living in the nurses’ residence at the corner of Grant Road and Beverly Avenue. Various aides and orderlies lived over the garages, and dietary workers lived over the kitchen.

As the new hospital grew, TMC steadily increased its staffing levels. According to TMC historian Reba Grubb in her book Portrait of Progress, TMC was the only hospital in Arizona with a defined personnel policy for salaries, raises, vacations, holidays and sick leave.

And to support the health and well-being of its employees, TMC offered a Blue Cross hospitalization plan for any employee who wanted to pay the extra fee to sign up. In the mid-1940s, the prices were a bit different than today; the monthly health insurance premium was 85 cents for an individual and $2 for whole family coverage.

As time passed, TMC wanted to honor its ‘long-time’ employees who had been on board for a decade or more. The first Service Award Pins were issued in 1955.TMC70Final

The latest version of TMC’s Service Pin Celebration takes place Sept. 13, 2014 – honoring employees who have reached five-year milestones of employment. Among the honorees who are receiving pins this year are six employees who have served 40 years, and four who are 45-year employees of Tucson Medical Center.



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Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461
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