The Early Years | 1905–1939
1905: There were no hospitals or emergency facilities of any kind anywhere on the Peninsula between San Francisco and Palo Alto. In the wake of the 1906 earthquake, the need for medical facilities was clear; many people who fled the flames of San Francisco found the countryside of San Mateo County inviting and the population experienced a boom.
Recognizing the need, heiress and philanthropist Elisabeth Mills Reid – with the rector of the Episcopal Church of St. Matthew, Rev. Neptune Blood William Gallwey, and an ambitious young doctor named W.C. Chidester – pledged funds to build and operate on the Church of St. Matthew property an emergency medical facility that would also house a parish nurse.
1907: The planned modest facility quickly expanded to a small hospital, which was dedicated in 1907 by the Rev. William Ford Nichols, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese, to "meet the needs of suffering humanity, irrespective of religious or racial affiliations."
1909: The six-bed facility, which included surgery and maternity rooms, was staffed by three nurses. One nurse served as both head nurse and surgical nurse and the two others rotated 12-hour shifts. Its name was Church of St. Matthew Red Cross Guild—although it had no formal connection with the church or the Red Cross.
By February, the facility had expanded to accommodate 24 patients with 24 nurses. The nurses' combined salaries totaled $5,315.50 for the first year.
The general list of medical conditions included everything from alcoholism to tuberculosis, as well as two typhoid patients, 13 pneumonia cases, one of malaria, one of morphomania, and one poor soul who went down in the permanent hospital record as suffering from "malingering."
In the mid-1910s, the Board of Directors convinced Mrs. Reid that the name of the hospital should be changed to Mills Memorial Hospital, although Mrs. Reid saw to it that Church of St. Matthew preceded the new name.
Through the 1920s, additions such as X-ray machines and expansion and improvement in the emergency room were made, staff added, and private duty nurses were used for at-home care.
1928: The East Wing was built, adding 124 beds and a 28-bed maternity section.
An annual report from the mid-1920s shows hospital receipts of $96,837 and operating expenses of $107,413, while the annual report of 1910 shows $26,514 in operating expenses.