Dignity Health Pays Homage to History with Museum of Nursing in South Park

Dignity health museum

There are over 120,000 amazing nurses in Los Angeles County alone. Many consider nurses to be the backbone of healthcare, and Dignity Health California Hospital Medical Center in downtown Los Angeles has a long history of nurturing these heroes.

Dignity Health Care has established the Museum of Nursing at their location in South Park. 
The only one of its kind in California, the museum houses memorabilia, photos, equipment, and medical tools such as glass needles of yesteryear and uniforms that date back to the 1800s, all documenting the history of nursing in California through war-torn times to break through in medicine.

According to Alina Moran, President of Dignity Health California Hospital “the room will take you back to 1898 with pictures, books, nursing and medical equipment. Everyone who enters the room stands and looks with wonder and awe at the wool cape and capping ceremony that is now the celebrated iconic and historical figures of the School of Nursing.”

The California Hospital school of Nursing first began on June 11th, 1898, at Dr. Walter Lindley’s private hospital on 6th Street in downtown Los Angeles. The hospital accommodated only six to eight patients, but four nursing students graduated from the school on June 10th, 1899. 

At the turn of the century the School of Nursing moved to the new 5 bed California Hospital building on South Hope Street, which was considered one of the largest private hospitals in the country. In 1921, the management of the California Hospital was transferred to the Lutheran Hospital Society of Southern California.

In 1924, Mr. Adolph Larson, a building contractor, and President of the California Hospital Board of Directors, built a new nurse’s home at 320 West 15th Street. lt housed 150 students and became known as “Larson Hall”. lt provided not only living quarters for the nursing students, but also classroom and laboratory space. May 2nd,1926 was the opening of the new, grand California Hospital building with capacity for 35patients, plus bassinettes for infants. 

During the early 1940s the United States became increasingly involved in World War ll, rushing in a greater demand for nurses. To meet the need, the Federal Government enacted the United States Cadet Nurse Corp. Most of the Class of 1946, which entered the California Hospital school of Nursing in 1943, volunteered to become part of this Cadet Nurse Corp in October. Since 1948, students entering the California Hospital School of Nursing had the opportunity to receive from the University of Southern California their bachelor’s degree in nursingwith their Registered Nurse license. 

After serving the nursing profession for 86 years, the Board of Directors of California Hospital, School of Nursing reached a decision to close the school. The Class of 1984 was the last to complete the school’s diploma in nursing education.

From humble beginnings with just a handful of students, California Hospital School of Nursing played a pivotal role in shaping healthcare in California. Today, the Museum of Nursing ensures this legacy lives on, showcasing not just the evolution of the profession, but the unwavering dedication of these remarkable caregivers. As California’s healthcare landscape continues to evolve, this tribute serves as a powerful reminder – the spirit of nursing, built on compassion and innovation, will forever be a cornerstone of California’s well-being.

California Media Center at Dignity Health is located at 1401 S. Grand Ave, LA, CA 90026.


Author: Keri Freeman

Military mom and proud parent, artist, writer, musician and film maker. Cocktail connoisseur. Publisher of DTLA Weekly.