Edit ModuleShow Tags

Inside the Icon: Naval Medical Center

What began with a tent pitched in Balboa Park has evolved into a state-of-the-art facility whose history spans both World Wars


Published:

Photo by Austin Novy

See the Icon

34800 Bob Wilson Drive, Balboa Park

Tent City

The idea for a military hospital sprouted in 1914, when a tent dispensary was established in Balboa Park to support the 4th Marine Regiment. Three years later, the camp expanded with increased medical capabilities.

 

Doctor in the House

In August 1922, the Naval Hospital officially debuted at Balboa Park’s Inspiration Point with 204 beds in a building once used by the city’s Park and Recreation Department.

 

War Stories

More than 172,000 patients received treatment at the hospital during World War II. At the war’s peak, 5,000 patients were admitted each month.

 

Extreme Makeover

Thanks to lobbying by late Congressman Bob Wilson, the hospital debuted a $293 million expansion in 1988. The center is sometimes called Bob Wilson Naval Hospital, and the road leading up to it from Florida Drive has also been named after him.

 

By the Numbers

The multi-specialty center offers care for active duty service members, their families, and retirees, and is equipped with 272 beds, 11 community clinics, and a staff of more than 6,400 military and civilian professionals.

 

A Walk in the Park

“Our design criteria stemmed from the Navy’s strong desire for a non-institutional character and its sensitivity to the environmental setting of Balboa Park,” principal co-designer Louis Naidorf told the Los Angeles Times in 1988 about the center’s makeover. That meant low-rise buildings, courtyards, and landscaping that virtually hides the hospital from street view via foliage and trees.

 

Doctor's Orders

On a typical day, doctors deliver nine babies, dole out 625 immunizations, and fill 6,800 prescriptions.

 

CTs for Cetaceans

Outside of patient care hours, doctors routinely perform CT scans on dolphins, who are a part of the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program. The conservation-minded organization’s dolphins use sonar detection to locate sea mines for removal.

 

Supporting Our Troops

A $4.5-million rehabilitation and prosthetics center—called C5, the Comprehensive Combat and Complex Casualty Care facility—opened in 2007, serving injured troops. With the war now drawn down and wounded warriors population significantly lower, the center is adapting to include other complex-injury patients.

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

From the Archives: A Working Woman in 1950

More than 50 years ago, being a "career woman" meant jobs in art and modeling and an income for clothes and dinner parties

Fall Fashion 2018: 6 Looks Inspired by the '80s

We're, like, totally wigging out over these bold colors, patterns, and details inspired by the raddest decade

San Diego Neighborhood Guide: University Heights

Multicultural cuisine and cafés have always been this enclave’s calling card. Now it has trendy cocktail bars, eclectic theater, and vegan-friendly eats, too.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best of San Diego Party 2018
  2. Good Night, Cafe Chloe
    San Diego’s beloved French bistro is closing due to California’s unfair labor laws
  3. The Best of San Diego 2018
    We crown 103 winners in food, shopping, fitness, kids’ activities, and more
  4. Javier Plascencia Eyes Barrio Logan
    The award-winning chef is all over Mexico, but looks to make a San Diego comeback
  5. Stop Killing Chloes
    How California is very knowingly killing the mom and pop restaurant
  6. A Sneak Peek at ‘The Heart of Rock & Roll’
    The Old Globe’s newest world-premiere musical promises a familiar soundtrack and all the good feels of an ’80s rom-com
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Vote Now for Your Orangetheory Winner!

Winners will be announced at our Sweat event on May 12

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

Ten Pet Friendly Palm Springs Restaurants

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags