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Enumclaw Regional Hospital gets final farewell

Roberta Dutcher fondly remembered showing up at Enumclaw Regional Hospital and thinking “what a backward town.”

“They sent me to Seattle to pick up my own blood,” she said.

The blood was for her scheduled C-section. She had recently arrived from Denver, where she worked in a 500-bed hospital. She was living in Enumclaw and working at the Auburn hospital. The Enumclaw hospital was recommended to deliver her daughter.

“One year later I was working here,” she laughed.

Now the manager of Laboratory Service she gathered with many others who packed into the Enumclaw Regional Hospital lobby for the last time Thursday afternoon. It was a chance to bid the building, which has served the community since 1949, goodbye before it is razed to make room for parking for recently-opened St. Elizabeth Hospital across the street.

“Although the building is going, and it’s an end to an era, it does not end the good work you do everyday,” said Dianna Kielian, Franciscan Health Services senior vice president of mission, at the ceremony.

She called it a time for sadness, but also a time of hope.

“It really is hope,” Kielian said. “A continuation of the ministry you’ve done for years.”

She said a hospital is more than a building, it’s housing for a dedicated and skilled staff and a community of supportive trustees and volunteers.

It was that kindness and compassion Dutcher witnessed that convinced her to join the staff decades ago.

“It was a loving and kind facility,” she said. “The hospital is only as good as its people.

“I’m happy I had a hand in designing it, but I’ll miss the old place.”

It was similar for Mable Stern from X-ray, who moved to Enumclaw from Idaho and didn’t know a soul.

“They made me feel like I had family. They were the family I didn’t have,” she said.

She tells the story of a bag lady who was sick and came to the hospital. She said a doctor treated the lady, gave her a ride to the bus, carried her bags and gave her money for food and shelter.

“I saw compassion in the doctors,” she said.

Two-year-old Cailah and her family came down to say good-bye to Enumclaw Regional Hospital and welcome St. Elizabeth.

Cailah was one of the more than 8,000 babies who took their first breath within its walls.

“We came for the commemoration,” her mother Angela Craft said. “We didn’t make it to the hospital for the open house.”

They took the time after refreshments for a quick tour of St. Elizabeth.

As the sun began to set, local Veterans of Foreign Wars members lowered the flag outside Enumclaw Regional Hospital and raised it across the street at St. Elizabeth.

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