KING CITY — As the only hospital within 50 miles of King City, serving an area of several thousand square miles, Mee Memorial Hospital has a long, storied history as the cornerstone of its rural community.
This year the state-of-the-art facility — the core of Mee Memorial Healthcare System — celebrates its 60th anniversary of providing culturally sensitive and patient-centered care in the heart of South Monterey County. A 60th birthday celebration and ribbon-cutting ceremony were held July 14 for employees and guests in the hospital’s rose garden.
Much has changed since Mee Memorial first opened its doors in 1962. Back then, astronaut John Glenn had just become the first American to orbit the Earth, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at around 652, and a gallon of gas cost 28 cents.
And in a city once known as Hog Town, the population of King City was around 3,000.
“Much has changed around us, of course, but much has remained the same,” said MMHS CEO Rena Salamacha. “We still see the same togetherness in our close-knit community, and we still see the dedication and professionalism of a remarkable healthcare team that always puts the wellbeing of patients first.”
That same spirit inspired rancher Tom Mee to donate all the proceeds from a cattle sale, more than $150,000, to put a hospital fundraising drive over the top in the early 1960s. The hospital was named after his late father George L. Mee, replacing a 22-bed, single-story facility on Broadway (where True Value Hardware now stands). The present hospital was built next to that facility and was completed in 2001.
Today, the hospital is the core of MMHS, with four comprehensive medical clinics in King City and one in Greenfield. In 2007, the second floor of the hospital was finished — increasing the number of beds to 119.
Salamacha points to philanthropy, dedication and volunteerism as key reasons behind the success of her nonprofit organization, honored by the King City Chamber of Commerce and Agriculture as the 2021 Business of the Year.
“Strong community support continues, led by a dedicated Service League, a valued Board of Trustees and a committed Mee Memorial Foundation that over the decades has raised several million dollars for the hospital,” she said. “The honor from the chamber served as validation for the tremendous efforts — under incredibly difficult circumstances — from all of our healthcare employees and volunteers.”
Many rural hospitals have struggled to secure financial support. Since 2005, more than 180 rural hospitals have closed across the country, with many in those communities already facing a variety of barriers to quality healthcare.
Salamacha is proud that Mee Memorial “continues to play a vital role in providing quality patient care to our community, and has done so for 60 years. We must stand together for another 60 years and beyond.”