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Queen's HistoryThis year, The Queen’s Medical Center celebrates its 150th year anniversary. Special events and displays will take place throughout 2009, and a book on the history of Queen’s will be published later in the year.

From 1853 to 1854, a small pox epidemic took the lives of a reported 2,485 people, virtually all Native Hawaiians. The death toll was probably much higher. But that wasn’t the first epidemic of a Western disease to devastate the Hawaiian population. When Captain Cook arrived in 1778, the population was estimated to be about 350,000. By the time Alexander Liholiho ascended the throne as King Kamehameha IV in 1854, the Hawaiian population numbered just 70,000. In his maiden speech to the Legislature, the new King made a passionate plea to establish a hospital “to stay the wasting hand that is destroying our people.

Soon after the King married Emma Naea Rooke, the new Queen became involved in the King’s causes, especially that of establishing a hospital. Although legislation was passed to establish public hospitals, the legislature appropriated no money to build them. By 1859, still nothing more had been done toward establishing a hospital. Frustrated, the King took to the streets to obtain subscriptions and raise the money himself. The Queen helped her husband raise money, most notably by conducting a benefit fair. Within a month, the King and Queen had $13,530 in donations and subscriptions.

Following the King’s determination, the legislature appropriated some funds, and on May 24, 1859, the King and his cabinet named the new hospital-to-be The Queen’s Hospital, in honor of the Queen. Queen’s opened its doors on August 1, 1859 in a temporary dispensary with 18 beds at the corner of King and Fort Streets. Meanwhile the trustees of Queen’s looked for a permanent parcel of land to build the hospital. They settled on a parcel called Manamana at the foot of Punchbowl, where Queen’s still sits today. On March 10, 1860, the hospital moved to its new site and occupied an old wooden building already on the property. However, the cornerstone was laid on July 17, 1860, and the new building, built of coral block and California redwood, opened with 124 beds on December 6, 1860.

150 Years LogoSince its very beginning, Queen’s has striven to provide a record of firsts in medical advancements, delivered with excellence and aloha. For example, Queen’s became the first hospital in Hawai’i for everyone, including subjects of the Hawaiian Kingdom and foreigners alike. Queen’s was the first to introduce x-ray equipment to Hawai’i in 1910, and Hawaii’s first open heart surgery was performed here in 1959. In 1997, Queen’s became the State’s only designated trauma center; and in 2007, the Queen’s Cancer Center opened its doors. The complete list of accomplishments and advancements is too long to list here, but they continue on a constant basis. Queen’s has also not lost sight of its founders’ charity toward their people. In fiscal year 2007 alone, Queen’s contributed over $44 million in health care services, education, charitable contributions and uncompensated care to the community.

“This is a crowning moment in the history of our organization,” said Art Ushijima, President of The Queen’s Medical Center, in reference to its 150th year. “[We remain] embedded in the fabric of our community.”

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The Queen’s Medical Center is a 501 (c ) (3) non-profit corporation.